Modern pedagogy should reflect the world our students live in. Our classrooms should not be isolated from a world increasingly saturated by media and technology. As Voogt et al state: “ICT has a primary place in 21st century skills and 21st century learning” (2011, p.2). By employing Gutierrez et al’s ‘Third Space,’ which involves the digital realms students inhabit outside the classroom, we can enable diverse, hybrid learning experiences that create “rich zones of collaboration and learning” (2009, pp.286-287).
Digital literacies are an essential skill for modern and future social and working spaces and cannot be taught without the use of technology in the classroom. However, current engagement with e-learning, across all levels of education, remains “limited to a small range of technologies” (Cox, 2012, p.16). The range being used obviously needs to be widened to better represent modern ICT and much of this responsibility for this falls on the relevant governing bodies, schools and teachers. This is not to say that we need blanket implementation of technology across the curriculum. Software and devices should instead be regarded as a compliment to core learning and judged on a lesson by lesson basis based on their affordances. By affordances I refer to the utility of technology in what it offers the user (Bower, 2008, p.5). For example, in the way Microsoft Word offers write-ability.
Teachers, not technological devices, are the key to successful integration of technology in the classroom. This integration is the “process of determining which digital tools and which methods for implementing them are the most appropriate” (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p.6). Teachers should be digitally literate, responsible role models as well as being critically aware of how different digital resources contribute to learning in the classroom. They should understand that each technology has its own “propensities, potentials, affordances and constraints that make them more suitable for certain tasks” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
Teachers should also be conscious of the ‘digital divide,’ both in terms of student access to technology outside school, and also their levels of IT literacy. It is important to be aware of both digital and cognitive divisions that affect student learning equality and think about “how this affects the affordances that the technologies will provide” (Cox, 2012, p.15).
The use of technology in the classroom can also increase engagement in students who are otherwise dis-inclined to read or write. According to Roblyer and Doering “teachers are turning to the interactive and visual qualities of software and websites to increase motivation for reading and writing” (2014, p.270). The connectivity inherent in a lot of new technology is also allowing more back-and-forth interaction between teacher and student. This is making for a less positivist and more constructivist approach to teaching as the digital era brings about a more “active development of learning relationships” (Starkey, 2012, p.29). In other words, as a bi-product of technology, students are becoming more involved in classroom collaboration and discourse rather than being passive receptacles of knowledge.
In summation, the end goal of tech-oriented pedagogy should be to develop students who are adept, flexible, ethical and creative manipulators and users of digital tools that allow them to become valuable members of future workplaces and society.
Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis—matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45(1) 3–15. doi: 10.1080/09523980701847115
Cox, M.J. (2012). Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. In Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(1). doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x
Gutierrez, D., Baquedano-Lopez, P. & Tejeda, C. (2009). Rethinking diversity: Hybridity and hybrid language practices in the third space. In Mind, Culture, and Activity, 6(4), 286-303. doi: 10.1080/10749039909524733
Koehler, M. J. & Mishra, P. (2009). What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge? In Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol9/iss1/general/article1.cfm
Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition. 6th Edition, Pearson.
Starkey, L. (2012) Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age, Taylor and Francis.
Voogt J., Knezek G., Cox M.J., Knezek D. & ten Brummelhuis A. (2011). Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? A call to action. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(1). doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00453.x.