Pedagogy. Although it’s an integral part of my life, both as a learner and as a teacher, I sometimes have to take a step back to pinpoint its meaning. According to dictionary.com, ‘pedagogy’ is defined as “the principles, practice, or profession of teaching the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods”.
In his open textbook, “Teaching in a Digital Age”, author Tony Bates examines the pedagogical differences of media such as text, audio, video, etc. Prior to reading his work, particularly chapter 7, I don’t really believe that I put a great deal of thought into what medium I was using during a particular lesson … or why. I certainly wasn’t considering the “content, content structure, or skill” about which Bates writes.
In many cases, I used a resource simply because it was available or because it was something I’d used before. At times, I would switch media simply to offer the students some variety – but not really with much consideration of other factors, such as how I might assess the student, based on the medium used.
So, given my limited pondering over the use of media in the classroom, I had to do some serious thinking about the blog prompts for this week: “What are [my] learning preferences when it comes to digital resources?” and “How does Bates text line up with [my] own experiences?”
My Digital Learning Preferences
In reading Katherine’s recent post, I had to give full props to her teacher for his/her efforts to welcome various media into classroom assignments. Katherine describes a particular assignment which she chose to complete by creating a video. In her words, “the digital resource (in this case video), provided me with an opportunity to dig deeper and enjoy a text and medium I would not have otherwise.”
I could relate to this … but from a couple of decades earlier! I had a similar experience in elementary school … about grade 6, to be more specific. Our task was to prepare a mock news report. Most students chose to write out articles in “newspaper format”; as the teacher gave us some freedom in this regard, two friends and I decided to create a radio show. We planned our script (I remember laughing our heads off – we thought it was the funniest thing in the world), recorded it on a cassette tape, and played it for the class. Take a trip back to a few decades to hear this for yourself!
(Oh my goodness. It took me over an hour to try to insert this simple clip! Apparently, WordPress doesn’t like mp4 files … and I didn’t know how to convert it. I finally uploaded it to YouTube. I hope this works!)
Not only was that project a lot of fun to complete… it was also a challenge, as we had never before worked with recording audio for an assignment. To this day, I am drawn to audio as a learner … and in other areas of my life.
Andrew once mentioned that he sometimes prefers to listen to a Jays game, as opposed to watching it. I feel the same way about CFL games. When I listen to the play-by-play commentary of a Saskatchewan Roughriders game, I am definitely more aware of what is happening. Everything else seems to stop. I turn inside my brain and just listen to the detailed accounts shared by the commentators. I am somehow more focused – perhaps my ears are on high alert because I don’t have visuals to distract me. Or, as Bates suggests, perhaps it is due to the sequential fashion in which information is presented when the medium is ‘audio’ (Ch 7.1). I must be a rather linear thinker!
In spite of my fondness for audio as a learner, as a teacher, it really wasn’t in my repertoire. In fact, I had never had my students listen to a podcast or other audio recording, nor had I given them the task of creating a podcast as part of their own learning. I recently chose to step out on a small limb and try something new with one of my classes.
After reading chapter 7 of Bates’ text book, Teaching in a Digital Age, I decided to read a story aloud to my grade 10 English class. Without copies of their own to look at, they sat silently and devoured every word. Like me, they seemed to be more focused with only one sense ‘in use’!
How does Bates’ Text Line up with My Experiences?
a) Finding the Right Match
Now, although I feel like my ELA 10 “read aloud” lesson was successful, you couldn’t ever convince me to use audio as the sole medium through which to teach ‘the organization of a courtroom’ for Law 30, for example. Or – even better – to teach sewing to a bunch of grade 9s, should I ever be given the challenge of a PAA class!
Bates puts it best when he says, “One of the arts of teaching is often finding the best match between media and desired learning outcomes.” To successfully find these matches, Bates recommends considering content, content structure, and skills. As I mentioned earlier, I’m afraid my inclusion of various media in my classroom has always been rather haphazard… or, at least, lacking in the kind of calculated method that Bates describes.
b) Video is Best for Skills-Based Learning
Ashley, and many others, have stated that they use videos when certain skills need
to be taught. Bates’ also suggests using video when “it would be too difficult, dangerous, expensive or impractical to bring students to such events”. My only experience using video for teaching a skill would be in IP 10, showing the students how to create charts and graphs in Excel. I suppose I’ve also used videos to show students what life is like inside a prison, as it would be difficult and possible dangerous to take them inside a real prison as a Law 30 outing.
c) The Trouble with Text
Liz, Ashley and several other EC&I 834 classmates have “admitted” to loving good ‘ol fashioned text. It is so true that this medium stands the test of time. On that note, however, I had a major “Ah ha” moment when I read Bates’ statement, “Indeed, one of the limitations of text is that it requires a high level of prior literacy skills for it to be used effectively for teaching and learning”. In other words, text is a great medium for students who are capable readers. Students with weak literacy skills need (and deserve!) to have content presented in a different way.
d) The Power of Audio and Text Together
Bates’ conclusions about audio are that it is a powerful tool when combined with text. Looking back, I suppose I have, on countless occasions, read aloud to students while they followed along in their books. Come to think of it, in a recent action research project that my Psychology 20 students conducted, I noticed that, when given the opportunity, the grade 3 participants were reaching out to pick up and read the research questions to themselves while the researchers read them aloud. They seemed to perform better when they were able to both read and hear the questions. As an observer, this was very apparent to me, although I hadn’t ever considered it in my own classroom.
e) The Limits of the Imaginations and Skills of Teachers
Bates states that, if teachers don’t have experience in video creation, they’re not likely to dive into that medium for a student project. I have virtually no experience in creating videos, so I’ve never given my students the opportunity to use videos to submit projects. In fact, besides allowing students to respond to a question using Flipgrid, I don’t really see how students could use videos to complete any of the content that they are required to complete for my classes. This coincides with Bates’ suggestion that, “the imagination of the teacher” is an important consideration when determining the best choice of media.
f) Text May Still Rule – But Give New Media a Chance
I was surprised and intrigued by Bates’ comments about text. My first reaction – surprise – came about when I realized the respect Bates still gave to text. I was pleased that this ancient tool still could hold its ground. Later, I was intrigued when I read Bates’ comments about newer media:
“The value of graphics, video and animation for representing knowledge, the ability to interact asynchronously with other learners, and the value of social networks, are all under-exploited in academia.”
I feel as though I have just stepped into this world – beginning with EC&I 833 in the fall and continuing with EC&I 834 now. I have, as Carla mentioned in her post, begun to recognize that “different media (text, video, picture) all contain a unique experience to the learner.” I didn’t used to see the value in using a variety of media but, since last semester, I have started to regularly insert some interactive moments into my lessons (for example, creating a Menti word cloud or doing a quick Google Forms survey and projecting the results).
I’d like to take this a step further, however. When I compare my efforts to the SAMR model (see a video about this model), I don’t think I’m QUITE doing EdTech justice! Rochelle, for example, talks about connecting with students from other schools using Twiducate. I had NEVER heard of this before, but I definitely want to try it!!
Do you have experience moving “up” the SAMR model? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
Thanks for reading!