Pedagogy over Tools

Do we need a new battle cry?

It’s not hard to find a post on the need for pedagogy over technology. All wonderful reads pointing to the need not to be caught in the glitz and glam of tech but rather be critical about our choices and our use. I’d be the first to retweet and start the conversation. So you can understand my surprise as I started struggling with the idea reading post after post.

It isn’t that the argument is wrong. The wonderful 6, 16, 26 year olds in our classroom and their learning should always drive instruction. Learners should ALWAYS be the centre of what we do and our decision making. We want to be critical of our choices in the classroom when we are responsible for sparking the learning of others. Pedagogy over tools I can commit to any day but here is my fear:

Is our fixation with repeating the PEDAGOGY OVER TECHNOLOGY mantra holding us back?

Do we put other tools through the same scrutiny that technology seems to experience?

Do we ask a pencil to prove it can increase standardized test scores or a book to improve reading levels (ok,  maybe we have done the later)?

Whether it is lines on a board, Monday morning ‘On my weekend I’ recounts  or 20 minutes of reading in silence we probably have all been guilty at some point of not maximizing the potential of a learning tool.

Paper rips, markers dry out, pencils break but we continue to use them.

Maybe there is no harm in the argument, it is a reminder to be critical and that can never be bad but here is my worry:

Is our constant repetition of the pedagogy over technology debate holding us back from accepting these digital tools as a natural element of our learning environments as they are of our everyday environments outside the classroom?

Are we using the pedagogy over technology mantra as an excuse to not move forward?

For the learner that lights up at the mention of Minecraft, the kid that giggles as they work through their code or the student that finds a voice online in their blog they never found in their classroom’s 4 walls, I hope we can find a new focus for our conversations.

Pedagogy over tools, yes. Learners first, even better. I guess I’m just thirsting for a new conversation, an evolution past pedagogy over technology. Accepting that these tools that we use to order personalized burgers and predict what movies we will like, have a place in the classroom. A shift not to why we need to use the tools but how we are using them to answer the question:

What can we do for this learner, for this learning, at this time?

What are your thoughts? Have I missed a part of the argument? Love to hear from you.


3 thoughts on “Pedagogy over Tools

  1. Thanks for this Tina.
    I think sometimes people use the “pedagogy over technology” argument as an excuse not to explore what tech enable learning has to offer individual learners. We accept new technologies in so many other aspects of our lives from shopping to communicating to entertainment without worrying about the motives behind them (pedagogy) and yet so many are slow to embrace it in classrooms.
    Also, maybe, for the learner the technology comes first and once they are there, the pedagogy takes over?
    I’ll keep thinking about this one.

    • Thanks for the comment Patrick. I was thinking of your tech first idea. We can definitely see that with Minecraft I think. A tool the learners explored and then we brought the big ideas to it. So much to think about.

  2. Machine/ human interactions are still poorly understood and appropriate studies are outdated faster than they can be completed due to technological change. Educators cling to the pedagogy over tools mantra rather than risk being part of the grand experiment being engaged in by society as a whole – the effect of the Almighty Algorithm on Mankind. Unfortunately no one can escape the parameters of this test … I say the risk averse risk running in reverse.

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