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Agile Pedagogy

After spending a good part of the past 18 months talking with teachers, and visiting schools across many countries, I’m challenged by the incremental nature of any change that has come as a result of the significant increase in student access to technology.

It’s not that we shouldn’t celebrate any shift, even if it is small, nor that the rate of any transformation is as important as the long-term impact, but…why so little?...and before the technology skeptics jump in with their standard shrill cries, I would hope that by now, most of us agree that the challenge lies clearly in how we more effectively execute the vision around technology use in schools, rather than the vision itself.

Take the teaching of science as an example. Given the extent to which technology is today embedded at every level of scientific endeavor, why is there so little embedded in our teaching of science? Yes we do have the extraordinary examples such as the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, among others, but surely it is not too ambitious to expect that increased access to technology would be fundamental to inspiring young people about the magic of scientific discovery?

What about all that talk about 24/7 learning and learning beyond the school walls? To date what we are seeing often is the use of electronic pigeonholes in the form of portals, which is essentially a virtual document exchange, but little else.

Is it possible that in reality we maybe think of pedagogy as a static idea? That like many crafts, there is one, best way, to develop a concept or teaching idea...and that therefore we are not open to new ideas about how we might do it better?

In this context we might appropriate modern language used to describe the challenges of staying current and adaptive, particularly in development, and better describe the demands of contemporary teaching as requiring agile pedagogy?

In this context a teacher would no longer see pedagogy as something that is frozen in stone, for others to unlock, but rather a as a truer reflection of the art and science of teaching and learning in a contemporary setting. This might then change how we see how our teaching tasks. About first and foremost being relevant, adaptive, and, by implication, always curious about how we might use emerging ideas and technologies to create more exciting worthwhile learning experiences for our young people.

In turn, this might also change our attitudes to how we source some of these ideas…away from a traditional model of whole-day withdrawal workshops to just-in-time, on-the-job access to online ideaslabs; from set courses and content, to coaching and mentoring…and from a static, carved-in-stone notion of teaching to a fresh, dynamic concept around agility, adaptability and vibrancy.

….as always, I’m interested in your thoughts…
May 11th, 2011 @ 1:01PM

Not static, just comfortable..
I imagine that rather than thinking of pedagogy as a static idea, many educators are simply comfortable in their current craft and find the whole idea of being 'agile' - I like this term, btw - as another 'workload issue' (read: I'm comfortable and can't be bothered changing).

Your comment regarding the teaching of science also rang true to my own experiences - how is it that schools STILL use paper ticker-tape to measure speed in the Physics lab? That's how I did it in Yr 12 last century - surely we've come along a bit since then?

Technology is here, the students are using it outside the classroom and under the desk (so that their device doesn't get confiscated - go figure). It is the educator that needs to re-imagine their 'agility' and seize the opportunities arising. The physical space of the classroom is breaking down (s-l-o-w-l-y!) and I truly believe that, probably for the best, it will be the students that drag most science teachers into the vision that is technology in schools.
Posted By: David Simpson on May 12th, 2011 @ 9:11AM
"Ägile-ness" Begins At The Top
I agree Bruce that most schools now have a vision, but we now require 'braveness'to implement this vision. The ability to unlock pedagogy I believe begins with establishing a culture that encourgaes free thought, risk taking and learning driven and owned by the learner. When this occurs, pedagogy cannot remain frozen and has to become an agile, flexible, manipulative past time. This doesn't have to start with the leader of a school but for a complete implementation across all subject areas and school community, the leader has to believe and drive this ideal for complete success to occur.
Posted By: Clayton Carnes on May 28th, 2011 @ 1:19AM