Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Technology and learning

You might guess that a publication addressing the state of the art in pedagogical uses of technology would include MOOCs, learning analytics and badges - and that's exactly what you get in the OU review Innovating Pedagogy 2013. But you also get more varied material on geo-learning and 'maker culture' alongside useful critiques of familiar topics like learning from gaming and digital scholarship. I thought the idea of rating the impact and timescale for adoption was an interesting and original approach - much better than that tiresome trick of lifting a sentence from the text and putting it in a large font, as if it is more significant or somehow captures the essence of what's being said without subjecting you to the chore of reading the whole page. One of these inserts is 'technologies may change, but the innovations in  pedagogy bring lasting benefit' - it's a rather vacuous statement in my opinion. Meanwhile the idea of 'one tablet per child', recently adopted in Thailand shows the extent to which national governments are willing to invest in technology - the scheme, still in the pilot stage is apparently paying off already. It's the sort of investment that's needed before innovating pedagogy can take place.

Monday, September 09, 2013

What's on it?

It's getting quite common to hear about how technology can solve all our literacy issues in one fell swoop. But this story about using e-readers in Ghana as a way of raising literacy levels was inspiring, and an outcome of the work done by the Worldreader charity. So it begins to look like e-readers can be a relatively simple way of enhancing the reading experience of students of all ages. But yet it seems to me that there's two crucial things that are missing in this largely technocentric debate, and they are - perhaps inevitably - to do with the social dimension. Firstly, we know that something like a Kindle or an iPad is simply a platform for digital content. What counts then, once you've got over the love of technology, is the quality and values of that content. Is it a commercially-bundled curriculum? Is it worthwhile reading material, and does it really explore the multimodal (and other) affordances of digital content? Secondly, what happens when you insert this kind of device into everyday pedagogical situations? What sorts of new roles and routines develop (or could develop) for teachers and learners? There's a significant research agenda here, and we need some answers to avoid being blown away by technologists, or bundled into oblivion by commercial publishers.