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.

References:

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.


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