Special episode – More than a pivot: thinking critically about our pedagogy

In early June 2020, Jesse Stommel, Sara Camacho Felix, Lee-Ann Sequeira and myself held a participatory workshop where we thought through our assumptions around what it means to design for learning and teaching in digital spaces especially in current circumstances. Due to the participatory nature of the workshop, admission was limited to 100 people with additional signups entered on a waitlist that had over 200 folk waiting!

Post-event podcast & reflections

In the subsequent podcast, four of us further explored the role of critical digital pedagogies in the shift to online learning and assessment. You can listen here:

I’m happy to be able to share the podcast as part of a special episode within the Digital Education Practices Podcast. You can also find the original link here: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/highereducation/2020/07/30/more-than-a-pivot/

Although COVID19 is causing a move towards digital education, the discussions were particularly useful as they helped shed further light on the need for all educators to consider the following points and issues as a result of how COVID19 is affecting education and especially higher education:

  • Many of our students and staff are in difficult situations within our sudden, new life, work and study environments, as a result we should take pause to understand how the situation COVID19 creates lends itself to trauma-informed teaching;
  • Kindness is always important, and particularly in these times. We should be kind to our students and ourselves and so forming a pedagogy of kindness as is a pedagogy of care to design for this as well;
  • Digital inequities are further exposed, and we must recognize these inequities will advantage some while disadvantaging others;
  • Digital capital is an area worth investigating as not all users of digital devices come with the same level of knowledge, skills and experience.

Last but not least, we must be mindful of the educational technologies and tools for digital education that we use or wish to use by considering the following and always remembering that good pedagogy and teaching comes first:

Questions for good teaching practices

  • What are the key aims of this module/course?
  • What does the module/course achieve? What are the key aims?
  • How does this course/module look and feel for it to be well-structured?
  • How many credit hours or credits is this module worth?
    • How much time will students need to spend on studying?
    • How much of it will be live/synchronous vs asynchronous?
    • To what extent will students be passive vs active learners?
  • How is the syllabus structured? How does this reflect what students see and interact with in the online learning environment?

Questions for building community

  • What does the induction look and feel like?
  • How are students introduced to each other and how do they develop relationships prior to the start of the course?
  • What kind of community of learners do I wish to develop?
  • What behaviors do I want the students to develop and/or exhibit?
  • To what extent are students engaged in meaningful, socially active learning?
  • To what extent is group work a part of the course?

Questions for digital education, tech & tools

  • To what extent does the syllabus reflect the learning experience online?
  • What apps, interfaces and/or tools can help me to achieve good learning and teaching?
  • Who created the apps or tools that I want to use? What is their motivation?
  • How does my current learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE) help and/or inhibit good learning and teaching?
  • What solutions can I create to offset the inhibitions that the VLE create
  • Food for thought: a tool parade to explore a range of tools

To close, we must not allow either models or tools to supplant good teaching practice. We should use the likes of Microsoft Teams or Zoom while taking a critical stance on these tools, for both are created by for-profit companies. These tools are here today, and they could be gone tomorrow, replaced by something else even more dazzling. We should always try to look for open source and open educational resources wherever possible.

Attribution & thanks

The workshop and subsequent podcast would not have been possible without the collaboration and time from from Lee-Ann, Sara and Chris and Jesse and Sean.


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