Reflecting on my pedagogical development

I finished my undergraduate teacher training in 2006 and I was taught many traditional pedagogical strategies, however, I was also taught the NSW Quality Teaching Model (QTM) and it was perhaps my first step towards realising the importance of reflection in my teaching practice.  I was constantly reflecting on the lessons I taught and how they were engaging students in aspects of the QTM.  As technology became a bigger part of my teaching practice, it became evident that the pedagogical strategies I implemented and utilised might have to change more as well.  

For a few years now I have been researching and reading up on heutagogy and andragogy.  I am always keen to investigate new ways to teach content and skills to my students.  Technology has been a huge catalyst in me doing this.  I realised early on in my career that technology was entering education institutes at a rapid pace and that there was going to be a need for teachers to develop further skills in ICT integration and that how we taught would also change.  

It was when I did the Intel Teach Essentials Master Trainer course that I realised just what kinds of pedagogical strategies would be required to harness the potential of technology and teach students who were engaging with technology more and more every day.  This PD course looked at problem- and project-based learning and how to integrate technology within it.  This was the first time I had learned about PBL and I quickly saw it as a valuable pedagogical strategy for the 21st century.

What is the significant position and place of pedagogy in education?  What is it in reality?  What should it be?  These questions came to mind as I was reading Lingard et al. (2003),  Zammit et al. (2007) and DET (2003).  Where is pedagogy placed within our current education system?  Is it placed in high enough a position?  I don’t think it is in reality.  When I look at the Australian school system as a whole, the focus is always on content… cover this, cover that and culminate in a test at the end.  Do educators today think of pedagogy as simply the foundation strategies they learned about when they were studying to be a teacher initially, but something that they don’t need to consider as much with experience?  Perhaps they do.

The QLD education department seems to have it going in the right direction when in their ‘Pedagogical Framework – FAQs’ they emphasise that: 

The State Schools Pedagogical framework policy requires every Queensland state school to develop a school pedagogical framework. It needs to be informed by research, yet respond to the local context.  From 2013, each school is required to enact a pedagogical framework that is collaboratively developed with the school community and aligned to state and regional requirements. This requirement is listed in the P–12 curriculum, assessment and reporting framework.” (p. 1).  

However, when I went to the NSW Syllabus website for the new NSW national curriculum syllabus documents, I did not see the word ‘pedagogy’ anywhere.  Where is the value placed on pedagogy in the new Australian curriculum? 

I believe that school plans should be made with pedagogy in the forefront of leaders’ minds.  Pedagogy is not just classroom teaching and learning strategies, it is the ‘art and science’ of teaching.  It is the facilitation of students and teachers alike, expressing and reproducing their learning with creativity and individuality.  It is the psychology, philosophy and specifics of how to teach and learn, how we process information and what we do with that information.  That is more important than the content we teach, because it carries into life beyond the classroom.

REFERENCES

DET, N. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools. Sydney: Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate.

Lingard, B., Hayes, D., & Mills, M. (2003). Teachers and Productive Pedagogies: Contextualising, conceptualising, utilising.Pedagogy, Culture & Society.  11,3, 399- 424.

QLD Department of Education, Training and Employment, (n.d.). Pedagogical framework — Frequently asked questions. [online] Available at:     http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/pdfs/pedagogical-framework-faqs.pdf [Accessed 2 Sep. 2014].

Zammit, K., Sinclair, C., Cole, B. Singh, M., Costley, D., Brown a Court, L., Rushton,K. (2007). Teaching and leading for quality Australian schools: a review and synthesis of research-based knowledge.  Acton, A.C.T.: Teaching Australia, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. LB1727.A8.T45

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Teaching Teachers – Methodology used in Moodle Training

I have had the opportunity to train many different groups of educators in the last few years in using Moodle for course design and facilitation.  My approach to the design and delivery of training sessions, which was strongly developed through my experiences at Macquarie University, is to simulate the student experience.  I want the teachers I train to experience Moodle in the same way that their students would be expected to so that they understand what the students might find challenging and what areas they may need to provide extra scaffolding and explanation for.  The question I have had recently though is, how does this compare with other models for best practice teacher training?  What characterises best practice learning design and methodology in teacher training/professional development?

When I consider the adult learning pedagogy, known as andragogy, these things come to mind: experiential learning, self-regulation, immediate outputs, collaborative/social learning, and contextual examples.  When it comes to teachers, their learning is very much based on their experiences with subject matter and the context of their school, they are shaped by the culture that exists within the school and the results achieved from teaching and learning.  As adult learners, teachers are very adept at self-regulating their own learning and often seek learning when there is a particular need in the context of their teaching.  Teachers, however, need their learning experiences to produce immediate products and outputs, something they can implement straight away and get results/feedback on their learning.  Learning becomes very collaborative within faculty groups, informal-competency groups (those with similar levels of confidence and experience in a particular area) and other wider professional bodies of colleagues.  Finally, when teachers are learning about a new pedagogical strategy or technology for example, they want to see it in the reality of a context they can relate to so that they can see the value of it in their own teaching and learning.

So what is my formula for success when it comes to professional development for teachers?  I don’t know for sure yet if it’s a completely winning formula but I always include the following in my Moodle training modules and workshops:

  1. Discussion forums – these are for open reflections and for sharing experiences and thoughts.
  2. Quizzes – to informally assist teachers recall what they have read and processed in their training experience and also so that they understand how a quiz operates in order to create one themselves.
  3. Choice – the get an indication of preferences or opinions for something.
  4. Embedded multimedia – to show what is possible within Moodle with the use of the HTML editor.
  5. Clear summaries – Moodle labels to summarise learning intent of section and guide the completion of activities.
  6. Stimulus images – to help teachers visually identify with the content and give a different perspective.
  7. Databases – to provide repositories of resources relevant to the context of the training.
  8. Glossary – to help explain jargon and terminology that learners may not be familiar with.
  9. Books – to layout and deliver larger amounts of information, with multimedia included

These are the main things I include but I’m still developing my formula and model for best practice teacher professional development and will continue my own professional development in these areas.  Please feel free to offer your ideas and reflections of experiences of being the learner or the teacher/trainer 🙂

Self-determined learning: Heutagogy

I will admit it but I have only just come across these terms in recent months and they are really thought-provoking as I relate to much of the information I’ve read on both.  Some would say they are very similar, however, the concept originated with Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon who said this:

So, over a bottle of a nice crisp white wine one cold Canberra evening, Chris and I described the notion of self-determined learning that best described an extension to pedagogy and andragogy. Chris eventually came up with the term heutagogy, which is derived from the ancient Greek for ‘self’ with some adjustments and the ‘agogy’ added. Heutagogy is concerned with learner-centred learning that sees the learner as the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experiences. The teacher might think that he or she can control the learning experience but we think the teacher’s role is limited to the transfer of knowledge and skills.  As well as being an agent in their own learning, it is impossible to predict the extent and effect of bifurcation. Hence, the curriculum and learning activities may become increasingly irrelevant at any point in the so-called ‘learning process’. (1)

I discovered this term ‘heutagogy’ on an awesome wiki developed by Thomas Cochrane (see previous blog post).  He is an expert in the field of mLearning having conducted 35 projects in the area in recent years.  On his wiki he had this to say of his projects:

The focus of these mlearning projects has been on exploring the potential of mlearning as a catalyst for transforming pedagogy from instructivist lecturer-directed pedagogy to social constructivist pedagogy enabling student-generated content and student-generated contexts (heutagogy). (2)

To me, education should be all about students, all about their learning needs, strengths and goals and about providing them with the opportunities to guide their own learning, construct their own learning and generate meaningful content to reflect this.  Many terms have been coined to describe ways in which this occurs but I’m loving this newly found one a lot.  Other learning theories suggest that some teacher involvement is needed in learning whether it is predominantly teacher-centred or student-centred, however, this concept suggest that learners need no guiding construct in the form of a teacher but that they can self-determine and develop their own learning.  Learning when they like, how they like and in a way that most meets their needs.  I still have much to learn about this topic but I’m loving it so far.

I have reflected before on my own learning style and as I read through literature on heutagogy I’m struck by the fact that this is in my nature to learn this way.  I don’t want to necessarily be taught but I want to learn, to discover and to generate new content based on my experiences.  I go through stages I guess like anyone, where I might not be so driven to learn something new but a lot of the time I am highly self-determined to learn something new and apply it immediately, if only just to write about it on my blog.  This cements the new knowledge into my own memory system, allowing me to recall it later.

Here is a good presentation on heutagogy…

So, what can I do with the new-found knowledge of what heutagogy is?  I want to read more about it and think about how essentially teacher-centred online courses like that in Moodle can grow the opportunities for heutagogy.  MOOCs where all the information is there and it may be open all year round are I guess perhaps an example of heutagogy in action but I will definitely investigate further.


1.  Hase, Stewart; Kenyon, Chris, “Heutagogy: A Child of Complexity Theory“, Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, Volume 4 (2007), Number 1, pp. 111–118

2.  Contributions to http://thomcochrane.wikispaces.com/ are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License. Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License