Nowadays there is a wide range of pedagogical and technological choices available to teachers and students. Increasingly, educators are coming to see themselves as learning designers, drawing together possible pedagogies and technologies (though that doesn’t necessarily mean using digital technologies all the time) in such as way as to create the optimal learning experiences for their students. This is somewhat like assembling a jigsaw, or even a matrix, where all the elements should fit together seamlessly. Moreover, with the guidance of educators, and following similar principles, students can also become creators of learning experiences for their peers.
In recent years, a great deal has been said and written about the role of educators as learning designers by Diana Laurillard, Mike Levy and Glenn Stockwell, Nicky Hockly, and others. As a white paper from the 2011 Sustaining Technology Enhanced Learning at a LARge scale (STELLAR) Alpine Rendez-Vous explains:
The challenge of education is no longer about delivery of knowledge: it is about designing environments, tools and activities for learners to construct knowledge. In order for educators to effectively orchestrate learning within this landscape they need to perceive themselves, and indeed to be perceived by society, as techno-pedagogical designers.
Source: Mwanza-Simwami, D., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Clough, G., Whitelock, D., Ferguson, R., & Sharples, M. (2011). Methods and models of next generation technology enhanced learning (p.5). White paper. Alpine Rendezvous, March 28-29, La Clusaz, France.
In order to be effective learning designers, educators need a solid grasp of:
- traditional and contemporary pedagogical approaches, ranging from information transmission and behaviourism through to social constructivism (and its variants such as challenge-based learning, inquiry-based learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning and task-based learning)
- web 1.0 and web 2.0 tools and the pedagogical approaches to which they most readily lend themselves
- the evolution of the internet towards web 3.0 (including the rise of big data, learning analytics, and artificial intelligence)
- mobile learning tools and the pedagogical approaches to which they most readily lend themselves (including the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality)
- models such as TPACK and SAMR, as well as newer models like T3, which help to evaluate current and potential learning designs
- the importance of digital literacies and coding skills
- the learning and assessment roles played by structures like PLNs, PLEs and e-portfolios
- ways to ensure digital safety (including an understanding of digital privacy, digital reputation, and digital health)
Common frameworks for supporting educators in moving their uses of digital technologies away from older information transmission and behaviourist approaches, and towards more contemporary social constructivist approaches, are Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler’s TPACK framework, which reminds educators to consider content, pedagogy and technology in order to design the optimal learning experiences for their students; Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model (see below), which helps teachers assess the pedagogical level on which they and their students are currently using digital technologies, before considering how to move to a more pedagogically sophisticated level; and Sonny Magaña’s T3 framework, which builds on but goes beyond TPACK and SAMR, placing more emphasis on task types rather than technologies, focusing more centrally on students’ roles, and adding a level where students’ learning directly impacts the wider world.
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