Does my pedagogical apporach change online? Or should it?

During the reflection week, I encountered a couple of discussions on evidence-based methods and research in relation to this course – both the difficulty of finding research and evidence for how we should (or could?) teach online and the need for using more evidence-based methods within the course.

Online teaching is still in its infancy, especially compared to traditional classroom teaching, but I derive my online teaching methods from the same pedagogical foundations. I still rely on Bloom’s taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002) and want to integrate new material and thoughts with the students existing patterns of thought, their existing experience, and knowledge. I employ cognitive load (Paas, Van Gog & Sweller, 2010) and learning by doing (Dewey, 1999) but in different ways compared to classroom teaching. When doing this I rely on my own expertise and experience, just as I do in the classroom.

Therefore, I feel a bit ambivalent about the discussions on evidence-based methods and how this should be included more in the course. I agree that it is essential that courses with learning outcomes also have transparent and realistic ways of testing that the learning outcomes are achieved. From what I’ve seen in the course so far, it is evidence-based and the invited speakers have substantial backing for their claims – like the visitor-resident model or openness to further social equality. What I instead hear is missing is what is commonly taught in traditional pedagogical courses; best practices, examples of set-ups, ppt-material, etc (this is all from my own experience). And I am not sure that it is what I want or need more of to further my teaching practices.

Instead, I integrate what I learn here into my current knowledge, for example how to work with students’ cognitive load when I am further away than I would be in a classroom setting. For example, I have made it mandatory for my students to work together and actually meet through zoom or similar, even though we have no scheduled lectures or hours with teachers. Part of their cognitive struggle is to practice how to work together and to prepare texts that are too much for one person alone. By challenging them to write documents together and follow up on their group work through meeting minutes and evaluating coherence in the end, I believe I am able to provide tools for the students to learn without me holding their hands throughout the process.

In my teaching practice, I think I could develop learning by doing better in online and asynchronous courses. As I discussed in a previous post, this could mean starting with the idea that most of my students are visitors in the LMS and they need to be ‘learning by doing’ not just on the subject but also on the platform. Instead of assuming that students know how to find certain things or know how to use an LMS I could think about how to gradually move through different aspects of the LMS, letting the students get to know the platform through their learning in the subject I’m teaching.

In my opinion, online courses need to continue to be founded in sound teaching practices and in pedagogical perspectives that are modern and relevant, but I am not sure that the best way to find them is to let someone else make the connections between teaching practices and pedagogical approaches.


Dewey, J. (1999). Demokrati och utbildning. Göteborg: Daidalos.

Krathwohl, David R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice. Routledge. 41(4): 212–218

Paas, F., Van Gog, T., & Sweller, J. (2010). Cognitive load theory: New conceptualizations, specifications, and integrated research perspectives. Educational psychology review, 22(2), 115-121.

3 responses to “Does my pedagogical apporach change online? Or should it?”

  1. During the reflection week you have started to think about evidence-based teaching and especially online teaching. You state that you base your teaching upon your pedagogical foundation, both in online and traditional teaching settings. I think this is a good way of practice. To let your pedagogical beliefs be the base and not the technology. I also think the development from behaviorism, through cognitivism, to social constructivism and connectivism is interesting. And there is evidence along the way. You question the need for evidence in this course and solutions and best practice. Well, I think evidence is always good to investigate, and sometimes things aren’t that easy. Therefore, I think we should both present and investigate teaching research. And I totally agree with your last point, that it is never god to: “… let someone else make the connections between teaching practices and pedagogical approaches”. -That is the real complexity of the teacher’s role!



  2. Thank you Caroline
    Your text provide plenty of nuances. I particularly enjoy your skills in moving between reflection and reflexivity, between imaging yourself in the doings and in where these doings are taking place. No pedagogical ideologies or theories and tools to achieve them will work unless the performer masters them. This would of course be an continuous and emergent strategy if we ask Henry Mintzberg, and obvious to us doing teaching (on campus and online, just different classrooms). So, to believe in what we are doing is important, so is also to have an open mind. Christina Erneling has done a lot of work on child development, learning and education, and in discussions with her we do agree on that we have to dare to test things, but being open to be wrong and to adjust. John Dewey’s part in development of pragmatic thinking observes not only the immediate aspect of thinking and doing as part of the same process, but also of the continuum of never coming to the end. Education is not to prepare for life, it is life. So what with evidence based practices in people processing activities, such as education? Well for the content it seems fair to say that it shall be updated information and well founded in science (which disqualifies a few educational policy ideas in Sweden at the moment, but that is another question), but for the process it is not that easy. To connect to ideology and learning models, education can hardly be framed by goals, but by ever changing needs in life. Some change quick (e.g. tools), others slow (e.g. need for reading, writing, counting), and some are always new and old at the same time (science) in breakthroughs and history. So in the educational process we might look at evidence based practices as something that at its minimum protects children/students from being hurt and mislead. For example, if we know, from experience, that lecturing about a certain topic does not provide our students with the knowledge they need to be able to make use of the knowledge, it is a waste of time, theirs and ours, and it is evidently time to change something. But into what? Well that is a tricky thing – we need to inform ourselves, use some trial and error, and check for what happened when so to be able to improve. I fully agree to that there is no quick fix in education called using evidence based practices – that is a merge of academic and political interests that in a educational context needs to be contested, as long as that process does not hurt the children/students.

    This became a lot longer than anticipated, and it is an argument to be contested.


  3. Thanks for sharing the idea (and examples) of equalizing all visitors as a principal teaching practice and through “learning by doing” create the opportunity for a shared experience. It somehow reflects the ONL-setting where we all have to enter something unknown and try to make sense in and of it.

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