Tools and pedagogy

Mapping pedagogy, tools and activities is something I have been interested in for a long time. What is the relationship between these things and can understanding/articulation of this relationship help use design better learning activities? So I really like Steve Warbuton’s diagram about interpreting technologies in use. He maps technologies along three dimensions 1) isolated-social, 2) active-passive and 3) formal-informal. Some of the examples he gives include a wiki as a collaborative document, an RSS feed about a course announcement, a blog as a reflective journal. What’s nice about this is the dimensions bringing out the characteristics mapped to the use in situ – ie the context will change where something is located on the 3D matrix. This really resonates with a framework we developed. (A description of some of this is in a Computers and Education article we wrote). 

 We reviewed different learning theories and came up with three key dimensions 1) individual – social, 2) active – passive, and 3) information – experience and then mapped where different learning theories were situated in relation to this.

We had a nice table in the paper showing how different learning theories were situated in different parts of the framework,  so behaviourism was individual, passive and information focussed, whereas experiential learning was high on social, active and experience based. In some further work I went on to look at how technologies in context could be mapped onto this framework - in much the same way that Steve has done. For example have a look at some of the final slides from a presentation I did at Queen’s University which shows that a) a learning object moves around the framework depending on how it’s being used and b) how ‘chat’ which you would ordinarily think of as high on the active, social dimensions, moves to the passive, individual dimensions when the archive of the chat is used by an individual after the event as an information source (something we found in some of our evaluation studies on online courses). This got me interested in trying to map – pedagogies, tools and activities and I spent a lot of time doodling tables and matrices trying to look at the relationship between these. However I always ran into the sand because although initially this seems an obvious thing to do as a means of articulating the affordances of tools and how they can be used for learning the problem is that the inter-relationship of these three things is very context specific. So it’s the ‘it depends thing’. I can use a pencil as a tool to write with (which you could argue is one of its most prominent affordances) but I can also use it as a teaching aid to talk about the properties of lead, to discuss the social evolution of tools for writing, or to spark a debate on modern design. So is chat better for communicating than a discussion forum? What are the pros and cons of each? It depends… sigh… {As you can see this is still very much a work in progress!!}


2 Responses to “Tools and pedagogy”

  1. » Blog Archive » Slow learning Says:

    […] quite live up to the reality. This slide picks up on the framework we developed in our computers and education paper, arguing that different learning theories can be viewed along three dimensions (individual-social, […]

  2. » Blog Archive » Mapping methods to approaches Says:

    […] when they are making decisions about creating learning activities. It has a lot of similarities to Steven Warburton’s more complex 2-D map of tools and approaches and to similar work we have done mapping tools in use […]

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