The Trial and Error of Digital Pedagogy- Group Blog Post

This week in Contemporary Pedagogy, we discussed and wrote a group blog post via Zoom and Google Docs. Here is the resulting post.

 

The Trial and Error of Digital Pedagogy

Group post by Chris Clements, Austin Garren, Jazmin Jurkiewicz, Andrew Knight, Malle Schilling, and Brittany Shaughnessy

 

What do we mean by digital pedagogy?

 

Digital pedagogy presents a unique set of issues that one may not think of when first stepping foot in the classroom. Digital pedagogy hosts a myriad of definitions for different people. As with anything, digital pedagogy’s definition is situational–different disciplines could utilize digital pedagogy practices in unique ways. For us, digital pedagogy is where teaching practice and teaching philosophy intersect (Stommel, 2013), and the use of technology enhances the teaching and learning experience in our classrooms. Digital pedagogy can range from the utilization of laptops and phones to interact with a group assignment, or even responding to live polls regarding trivia or course content to engage all learners. It is vital to note the difference between digital pedagogy and online learning. Whereas online learning denotes the environment in which students and instructors interact, digital pedagogy focuses on the tools used to generate interaction and promote learning. It requires instructors to respond in real-time to their students noting engagement, adjusting as needed, and reflecting on what works and why.  

 

Students are able to shape the online learning experience and pedagogical philosophy by working with the instructor in real time to develop the most engaging and helpful class activities and assignments. Learning on the fly provides students with significant opportunities to give feedback and hopefully participate more in class that is based on their needs and interests. We believe that online pedagogy is constantly evolving to the students just like technology is constantly evolving and changing to the world’s demands. Furthermore, digital pedagogy is flexible and hopefully works toward including all students to have more confidence participating in more unique ways, such as through the chat, anonymous surveys, polls and comfort of being in their home space. If digital pedagogy is made for students to be more involved in class and feel supported, we believe that digital learning can be more interactive and lead to greater student growth!

 

One important aspect that also needs to be considered when thinking about the different types of technology to incorporate into the classroom is the instructor’s style of teaching. Some forms, such as online games, are meant to be fun for both the students and the teacher. However, some teachers prefer to convey a more serious or informational tone in the classroom. For this type of teacher, trying to conduct a game when they are not completely comfortable with that style of teaching may come across as insincere or even simply boring for everyone involved. Similarly, in some classes, games may not be appropriate for the topic being discussed or a competitive aspect may not encourage all students to participate. With the rapid adjustment to online learning, many instructors had no formal introduction to digital tools and their adaptation to digital pedagogy has been done on an individual basis in addition to changing course material and content to fit the new teaching format.

 

We have discussed the trial and error aspect of digital pedagogy in the sense that teachers may have been thrust into the digital platform of teaching during this Covid-19 pandemic and have to ‘learn on the fly’ what works for both the teachers and the students. Three of us teach public speaking, with forty students in each section. In March, like every other faculty member in the United States, we had to take a public speaking course and move it online. Granted, this was an easier task than most, as the course was already using a hybrid model, but there was a lot of trial and error involved. Before we had started teaching after “second spring break,” we had a meeting that lasted all afternoon, brainstorming how we could keep students engaged when we were having a tough time engaging ourselves. I’m not sure if we ever found a “best practice” last semester, as it was trying to make the best of the worst possible situation. This semester, it looks like each of us have crafted our own digital pedagogy practices, each providing our own voice and teaching style to the online classroom. 

 

References

Stommel, J. (2013). Decoding digital pedagogy pt. 2: (Un)mapping the terrain. Hybrid Pedagogy. https://hybridpedagogy.org/decoding-digital-pedagogy-pt-2-unmapping-the-terrain/

6 Replies to “The Trial and Error of Digital Pedagogy- Group Blog Post”

  1. What a deep post! I appreciate the link you made between teaching philosophy and digital pedagogy. I agree that we should use technology to enhance our teaching practices. This makes me think that I should have a reason for using various digital classrooms. Is my reason to engage students? Do I want to assess student knowledge? Do I want students to research topics independently?

    The second thought your post brought up is linking digital pedagogy to an instructor’s teaching style. I value proactively planning to include students with disabilities. Allowing students to use a laptop to access captions or a smartpen take notes would enhance their access. However, if I had a student who was blind or had low vision, the live polling questions may not work as well for that student (depending on how they access information). However, the live polling options may engage students who have difficulty focusing in class. Overall, I think it is important to learn students’ access needs before implementing digital pedagogical practices in my courses.

  2. I really appreciated the discussion on “making the best out of the worst possible situation” last semester. Although I was not teaching last semester, as a student, it was really a struggle to make it through the second half of my courses online. Honestly, even if the professors had been able to adapt the course in a more effective way, I still don’t think I would have been able to engage the same way that I do when I am actually in the classroom. I definitely think this situation is a learning process for us all – students and teachers alike – in figuring out what the best way is to engage across computer screens.

  3. I like that you all note that digital tools are not one size fits all. Some of us like to joke around and play music but others might find this childish… Ofcourse the students perception and engagement matters but instructors who use tools that fit their personality are probably more likely to ”sell” its usefulness to their students.

  4. I really like the thought that digital pedagogy is where teaching practice and teaching philosophy intersect and I fully agree with it. Digital Pedagogy is more focused towards the tools and techniques that improve the quality of online learning or in some cases interactive in-class learning and that is perfectly true. Also, Digital Pedagogy helps us with effective interaction with the students with the evolving education system. I also like the fact that games are are a great tool for interactive learning online but may not be suitable to every class and context, making Digital Pedagogy very subjective in nature. Discussing Digital Pedagogy in light of the pandemic sounds like a great idea and you have done justice to the issue.

    Great Post!

    Keep up the great work.

  5. I was interested in the statement in the post that “Whereas online learning denotes the environment in which students and instructors interact, digital pedagogy focuses on the tools used to generate interaction and promote learning.” This made me wonder about how we are defining interaction and learning. Does interaction include the work that students do on their own to read course texts? Is it class discussions? Discussion posts? Conversations outside of class? This also made me think about goals of interaction and learning, and how instructors and students may have different goals for these tasks. Often, instructors feel upset or frustrated when students aren’t doing course readings, because it seems to reflect a lack of interest in the class. I think it is worth asking, are the goals that instructors have the same as the goals that students have for what they want to get out of the class? If a student wants to gain general knowledge of a subject, but isn’t interested in academic skills like close reading or academic writing, is that a valid set of goals that instructors should embrace? I often try to organize classes around the readings, because I feel that this is the best way to teach academic skills, but sometimes I wonder if I am missing the point. Is it ok for interaction and learning to be not totally academic, and does that mean that I have failed as a teacher? In the digital context, especially in a pandemic, am I supposed to relax standards? Allow for more non-academic conversations? These are the questions that I ponder.

  6. Great points Austin. I learned a lot about digital petagogy through your blog post. Thanks for recognizing that using technology devices in classroom it’s not always a way for students to distract themselves. It can also be benefitial to deliver conent and enhance learning experience if the instructor can channel the usage of technology in class.

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