Digital pedagogy

Published October 6, 2023
The writer is an author, teacher, educator and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect that of her employer.
The writer is an author, teacher, educator and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect that of her employer.

DIGITAL pedagogy is vastly different from in-person teaching and learning. Technology-mediated teaching leads to active involvement, collaboration and personalised learning that is not possible within the confines of a traditional teaching framework. Essentially, digital pedagogy leads learners to new dimensions above and beyond the expertise of a teacher who may not be able to give individual time and attention in large classes.

Remote self-paced learning facilitated by technology in class and at home makes learning far more accessible and effective for students. It also enables in-depth monitoring for the teacher who can see the time spent on the learning modules by each of the students, the tasks attempted and the results. Teachers need the support that digital tools provide. However, the real conundrum for many schools is to initiate ways to integrate digital tools in lesson time.

At first it may seem daunting. For many teachers, it is uncharted territory and it may take a while to get comfortable with weaving in digital teaching methods. If the strategy unfolds in easy steps, the landscape of education can change remarkably.

The essential steps to be taken involve access and availability of tablets at school. These can be easily shared among groups of students. The next step would be creating time during lesson time, or between lessons, to consolidate learning through online means. The research capabilities that students can develop in class far exceed the learning they can acquire in isolation at home. Something as simple as a key-word search may not come naturally to students but can be learnt through peer collaboration in class. Students can take quizzes online right after a lesson, providing a quick opportunity for formative assessment. Concepts can be clarified instantly with a child-friendly video that can be watched together.

For many teachers, digital tools are uncharted territory.

However, successful implementation of digital pedagogy involves weaving it seamlessly into the curriculum one lesson at a time. Many schools have been successful at initiating language learning through digital reading programmes or audio help for students who struggle with acquiring language skills. Such audio support can act as a personal assistant to the teacher, and not many students need help navigating such digital learning once they are introduced to it. Children are natural explorers and curiosity drives them to try out new things once they are shown how.

Not all teachers are comfortable with it, falling by default back onto a traditional style of chalk and talk. Preparing children for global skills requires inculcating these skills in teachers as well as students. Besides subject knowledge, teachers who succeed in digital pedagogy are those who know how to incorporate digital tools into the structure of their lessons. Some questions to consider are: can children express their ideas using a shared

online document? Can they find the information they need to complete an assignment? Can they produce video or audio content based on what they have learnt in class? Can they comfortably take assessments online? These are just some examples of areas where the teacher’s digital expertise is essential to guide the students’ journey.

A winning feature of digital pedagogy is that students don’t fall through the cracks easily, as they get to revisit the content repetitively — such as videos, discussion boards and quizzes — as many times as they wish. Technology surpasses the limitations of human patience, and students can benefit by teaching themselves, failing and trying again, asking repetitive questions and retaking assessments.

The added benefit of digital pedagogy is that it helps teachers collect data on student effort and attainment. Technological tools will provide a regular overview to the teacher of dips in a students’ performance and marginal learning curves. Without digital tools, such data collection is far less reliable and accurate.

It may be difficult for a teacher to cater to the differing needs of learners and that is where technology fills the gaps with adaptive tests and a personal e-coach. The success of digital pedagogy relies on its impact and not merely its usage, and countless studies have shown improvement in students’ academic performance once they start using digital tools.

Digital pedagogy can lead to a paradigm shift in how students work, how long they engage with course content and how well they use technology to teach themselves. No mountain is high enough for those who have acquired the skills and strategy to find their way up, and our young ones are definitely digitally-ready.

The writer is an author, teacher, educator and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect that of her employer.
neda.mulji@gmail.com
X (formerly Twitter): @nedamulji

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2023

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