Philosophy, pedagogy and practice

Following on from my recent post on innovative teaching, here is another question from teachers about the use of ICT in schools, and the underlying pedagogies:

Is learning in an ICT-based environment characterised by a unique pedagogy - for example by a student centred pedagogy while the teacher serves as a guide who mediates learning using a variety of technological tools?

This is an interesting question, because there are several possible answers. Teachers generally work in their classrooms (or elsewhere) as professional educators - people who are responsible for optimising learning so that all of their students attain the highest levels of knowledge, understanding and skills. How a teacher goes about this professional practice depends on a number of factors. One of the key factors underpinning their practice is their belief in what constitutes good teaching. Personal philosophy on education is developed over a period of time, as teachers develop their professional identities. Most teachers would claim that their particular brand of pedagogy places the student at the centre of the learning experience. Most teachers would also disagree somewhere as to what exactly is the best possible pedagogy. This is because not only do our professional opinions differ, so do our personal experiences as teachers. Arguments about pedagogy tend to stem from varying professional identities. Furthermore, the environment in which we practice education varies widely, across cultures, across cities, even across a single school. Our pedagogical approach may also be constrained by restrictions such as institutional rules, lack of resources or time and other factors beyond our control. Finally, and most importantly, the way each teacher approaches the practice of education is dictated by the individual and corporate needs of the students.

Therefore, some teachers adopt a largely traditional approach to education, where content and knowledge are central and where the teacher is the arbiter of that knowledge. Others at the opposite end of the pedagogical spectrum subscribe to a progressive approach where students take responsibility for their learning, and where the teacher acts as a guide or facilitator. There are proponents of both these approaches, and some that vehemently defend one position or another. Generally however, most teachers will oscillate between positions, doing what they can within their constraints, and making decisions about their pedagogical approaches based on the needs, conditions and environments in which they are positioned. It follows that teachers who incorporate technology into their lessons can adopt any number of approaches. Some use the technology as a presentational aid to deliver instruction to their students, while others employ the same technologies as resources students can use for themselves. A classic case of this is the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) which some teachers use solely as a teaching tool for presentation, while others allow students to use the IWB as a learning resource. As with any extremes of the spectrum, there are many teachers who manage both approaches.

The short answer to the question therefore, is that there appears to be no particular pedagogical approach that naturally occurs when teachers embed technology into their lessons. All tools are neutral, and can be used for several purposes. What generally shapes our professional practice is not the absence or presence of technology, it is our personal philosophy.

Photo from Pixabay

Creative Commons License
Philosophy, pedagogy and practice by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Así es Steve. ñas tecnologías son neutrales, pero creo que el "tema actual de la pedagogía" no está con las TIC, si no con lo que significa hoy la educación.

La cultura en que vivimos en sus ultimos años ha hecho saltar por los aires la dependencia a ultranza de la pedagogía, sea aceptada o no la tecnología por unos y por otros, lo que nos conduce a entender la "educación" bajo otro prisma muy diferente, una educación que salga de las instituciones, deje de estar en manos de los "expertos" y se convierta completamente en popular, solo entonces la "pedagogía" en su sentido amplio como "praxis" y el soporte de las tecnologías, tendrá razón y será aceptada por todos como algo suyo. @juandoming
Hujud Alharthi said…
Hi Steve, as a teacher I totally agree with your answer particularly "What generally shapes our professional practice is not the absence or presence of technology, it is our personal philosophy".

Popular Posts