Apr 07 2022
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What is Pedagogy in Education? & How Can Tech Support it?

K–12 modern learning environments require a tech-enabled instructional approach.

When schools transitioned to remote learning two years ago, tech took on a new role in educational instruction.

After adjusting to using computers in their lessons daily during the pandemic, some educators have begun to view teaching-related tech in a different light, says Jennifer Hall, educational technology specialist for Atlanta Public Schools.

“The comfort level got a little bit better,” Hall says. “The teachers who were not as tech-savvy had to figure out different ways to do tasks they would normally do with paper and pencil. A lot of teachers are still trying to incorporate those things.”

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What Is Pedagogy in Education?

Pedagogy — which Monica Burns, educational technology and curriculum consultant, defines as the approach educators take to get a message across to a group of students — can get a modern assist from technology.

In the past, lessons plans may have centered on traditional techniques and educator-led instruction. The emergence of tech tools, ranging from portable devices to interactive textbook solutions, expanded the ways students can learn about new concepts, says Burns.

“If you’re teaching social studies or science, I don’t know that the content component has changed drastically, but the technological component of that and the knowledge educators have around thoughtfully integrating technology has definitely changed,” Burns says. “That’s influenced the pedagogy.”

Even before the pandemic, tech-focused instruction produced positive outcomes. Forty-one percent of schools felt technology was helping students learn more actively, according to a U.S. Department of Education report, and 33 percent strongly agreed the way it was being used was helping students become more independent and self-directed.

LEARN MORE: How can K–12 educators successfully implement flipped-classroom models?

What Technology Supports Pedagogy in Education?

Certain technologies have been popular classroom choices in recent years, according to Burns, including learning management systems that help distribute resources, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom, and creativity-based solutions like Adobe Creative Cloud Express for Education.

“Other tools really take formative assessment routines to the next level,” she says. “There’s an ability to add video and voice and increase participation by giving kids more access to share using tools like Flipgrid.”

Emerging tech also is being used in instruction. Hall recently met with a sixth grade science teacher about students designing a 3D augmented reality model and projecting it in the classroom with a tablet for a lesson on how weather and erosion affect land. She’s also taken students on a virtual field trip.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, “Use of Educational Technology for Instruction in Public Schools: 2019–20,” November 2021

“They could walk around in their physical space but be viewing Machu Picchu, which was pretty cool,” Hall says. “It’s becoming more common to see that kind of technology, especially in STEM-focused classes.”

Augmented and virtual reality tools can help make visual, hands-on instruction more accessible by eliminating barriers such as the cost of purchasing materials for every student, Hall says.

“Maybe students are going to complete science labs that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous,” she says. “360-degree virtual reality video allows kids who don’t normally travel to travel. It opens the door to opportunities they might not have had.”

What Are the Advantages of Supporting Pedagogy with Technology?

Technology can help maximize instruction’s impact by offering educators a more dynamic way to present information and directly involve students.

RELATED: Holograms add depth to remote classes and enrich instruction.

“If they’re replicating a task they could have done without the computer, it might not increase engagement,” Burns says. “But if they’re using game-based assessments or video, and students are actually creating content, that’s going to be more engaging than just watching a video and reading articles.”

Incorporating technology kids use outside of the classroom into assignments ­— such as asking students to discuss a particular character from a book — could help drive engagement even higher, Burns says.

“We might bring in new ways for kids to accomplish that assignment, like creating a podcast where they interview a character, with another student in their class taking on that role,” she says. “It demonstrates their understanding and would be more relevant to the experiences they might have as a consumer of content.”

Tech tools such as cloud-based file-sharing and communication and learning platforms can also help educators offer more personalized, frequent instruction.

“More teachers are seeing the benefits of tech and thinking, ‘I used to have to carry a whole crate of papers home to grade, and now I have access through Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams. I can see students’ work in real time. I don’t have to wait until they’ve finished a paper to analyze it; I can provide feedback and support throughout the writing process,’” Hall says.

Today, there’s no shortage of tech tools that could be used in instruction and pedagogical approaches. However, while bells and whistles may entice educators, items that feature them won’t automatically guarantee student success.

MORE ON STUDENT SUCCESS: Data analytics show ed tech’s impact on learning.

“Technology should be something that adds to your instruction,” Hall says. “Teachers need to think about the task at hand. What do you want your students to be able to do or know?”

Technology, she says, has become much more enmeshed with pedagogy than when she began teaching 25 years ago with a single computer in the classroom. Educators may still be hesitant, though, to use new solutions and devices, even if they feel one might be a good fit for a particular lesson.

“It’s okay to fail forward,” Hall says. “When teachers are trying to match technology with their pedagogy, they don’t have to be experts when it comes to the tech tools, because oftentimes students are quick to pick it up and can actually show us things. If things go great, awesome; if they don’t, course-correct. I can’t imagine, and I’m excited to see, what technologies will help enhance learning in the next 10 years.”

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