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“Digital Pedagogy”?

The drive to turn education digital has riveted our attention over the last ten years. But what exactly is digital pedagogy? How does one get started in it, and how is it different from regular pedagogy?

Broadly defined, digital pedagogy is the use of electronic elements to enhance or to change to experience of education. This can be anything from the simple use of powerpoint in the classroom, to the Khan Academy’s exhortation to “flip the classroom,”  and the growth of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as Udacity and Coursera offering free online education to the general public. Examples of digital pedagogy also include blogging assignments, the use of social media in the classroom, “forking” syllabi with GitHub, and getting students to use digital tools to test ideas. In sum, digital pedagogy is an attempt to use technology to change teaching and learning in a variety of ways.

Academic interest in digital pedagogy has grown by leaps and bounds. Late 2011 saw the launch of digital-pedagogy centered journals such as Hybrid Pedagogy and the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. A specialized THATCamp, or an unconference on the humanities and technology, was held on Pedagogy in 2011, and a corresponding THATCamp Hybrid Pedagogy will be held in 2012. And MLA interest on the subject has also been growing: at the 2012 Convention in Seattle Katherine D. Harris and Brian Croxall and Kathi Beerens organized two extremely popular electronic roundtables on digital pedagogy.

Importantly, some argue that simply using electronic elements in your teaching does not mean that you are practicing digital pedagogy. Paul Fyfe (@pfyfe) thinks, for example, that simply incorporating a technological tool without reflecting upon pedagogical change isn’t digital pedagogy. He argues: “if the tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat problems as nails.” In other words, this means that a simple incorporation of a tool (say Powerpoint) in a lecture, without any reflection on how the lecture form itself should evolve, is pretty much the same as a lecture without Powerpoint (which leads to the well-known Death by Powerpoint meme). Jesse Stommel (@jessifer) argues that digital pedagogists should consider the importance of “hybrid pedagogy,” or “think holistically about the various hybridities of the modern pedagogue, to think about how we live our real/digital lives in both academic and extra-academic spaces.”

To sum up: digital pedagogy is not merely a way to teach, but also makes up a rapidly expanding field hosting multiple debates and schools of thought. Any and all of these debates are up for discussion at our unconference. See our Suggested Topics page for ideas on what you could propose!

Image credit: Evers Project 365 Blog / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0//