In a little under a month’s time I am meant to be in charge of the course EDC3100 ICT and Pedagogy at the University of Southern Queensland. The first time I’ve taught a course since in almost 6 years, should be fun. This is one of the responsibilities of the new job that I haven’t quite yet started. For various reasons, however, I can’t help be start thinking about the course.
As part of my thinking, I’m going to try and blog. To some extent as an attempt to model what I preach. The following is a quick overview of the little I know about the course, the direction the course appears to be taking and some questions I have for you and for reflection.
The course is taken in the third year of a four year Bachelor of Education. The students have a 2 or 3 week stint of prac-teaching towards the end of the course. To some extent the course is the fairly standard “how to teach with ICTs” course found in many education degrees.
The course is offered a couple of times a year. The largest offering has up to a couple of hundred students spread across three different physical campuses and studying via online/distance education. It appears that each cohort gets the equivalent of lectures and tutorials (more on this in the questions).
The key sentence from the course synopsis seems to be this one
Students will engage with the design and delivery of learning experiences for individuals and groups employing a range of developmentally appropriate and flexible teaching, learning and assessment strategies and resources in ICT enriched environments.
The other point made is that students will be able to qualify for the Queensland Department of Education’s ICT certificate.
I’m yet to see a weekly schedule. That and getting access to previous resources, course sites etc is a priority.
The following is my summary/revision of the course objectives. Feel free to insert the appropriate higher level Bloom’s verbs and other verbiage.
- past and present (inter)national policies around ICTs in education.
- theories and frameworks that inform ICT pedagogies.
- ideas about knowledge generation and the knowledge economy and implications for curriculum and pedagogy
- role of ICTs in curriculum, learning, and teaching
- personal beliefs and practices that impact on the use of ICTs in L&T
- design worthwhile student experiences where ICTs are integral to the curriculum and where learners use ICT for higher order thinking
- students develop strategic pathways to continue their learning journey and professional recognition.
- spell good and use grammar good etc.
If one applies Bigg’s (1996) concept of constructive alignment, then the last outcome would seem to suggest that the course provides students the opportunity to learn about good spelling, grammar, referencing etc.
I wonder if you can read anything into the fact that actually teaching with technology is left until objective 6.
My plan was (and still is) to essentially teach the course as it stands. Mostly because there are only four or so weeks between when I start work at a new University in a new discipline and when the term starts. This potentially creates three problems:
- Not allowed to make changes?.
I didn’t think University policy would allow me to change anything this close to the start of term. A course this complex usually has lead times for the production of materials, assessment etc. I expect USQ – as an institution with a history in industrial distance education – to have policies preventing willy-nilly changes to courses in the last four weeks before the start of term.
USQ is a new university for me. I’ve never taught within a Faculty of Education before. This combination does not provide a firm foundation of informed insight upon which to make changes. I want to know a lot more about the students, the course etc before making changes.
I’ve just moved town. My kids are settling into new schools. My wife is preparing for a career change. We’re still playing around with real estate and I’m trying to make my way in a new job. I don’t want to complicate that with the task of radically changing a course.
The TTF changes
As it happens, USQ’s Faculty of Education – like all the other Australian university Faculties of Education – are using Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) funds to examine and improve the use of ICTs within their teacher education programs. As part of this the USQ TTF project folk are keen to make some changes to EDC3100 before it’s next offering.
One of the rationales for these changes is influenced by one of my broader questions below about the role of ICTs in education (not to mention more generally). i.e. it is expected that the use of ICTs should become embedded throughout the courses taken by student teachers. If this is the case, why then have a separate course like EDC3100 that teaches ICT and pedagogy? Haven’t the students gotten this already? What does/should EDC3100 add?
The folk pushing these changes are good people with a lot of experience. It’s a great opportunity to listen and observe. Even if the situation challenges my ignorance and laziness explained above.
The brief discussions I’ve had with a couple of USQ staff and the TTF project staff and some skimming of the set text for the course are starting to raise a few questions and remind me of a few others. These are the types of questions I’m keen to engage with when I eventually get around to making some changes to the course.
An initial list includes
- Engaging the students.
Apparently this course and other Faculty of Ed courses suffer the traditional attendance/engagement cycle. i.e. everyone attends the first week, no-one attends subsequent weeks, except for the odd week where an assignment is due. I’m not sure this is a problem I can solve, but it certainly seems to indicate a mismatch somewhere between the course and students.
- Treating it more like a design course and less like a theory course.
The first chapter of the set text focuses on topics more related to the first three or four learning outcomes described above. I can see how this could seem to students to not help them with the main crux of the course. How to use ICTs to teach.
If the aim is to get students designing effective learning experiences with ICTs, then I’d want them doing lots of designing, examining and critiquing lots of different learning designs with ICTs. Starting from the very start. This experience can then be used to talk about national policies etc.
- Modelling good practice.
One way to do this is to make the design of this course and its various learning experiences transparent and use those designs as part of the critiquing process. One of the aims here would to show that the course doesn’t always model good practice and provide students with the ability to offer modifications. But also for them to be aware of and reflect upon the constraints and different perspectives that influence the idea of what “good” practice actually is.
One of the barriers to this approach would appear to be the significant difference between the context/practice within a University course and within a school setting. One has lectures/tutorials, the other has 40/50/70 minute lessons. At least one (in theory) expects pre-prepared lessons plans while the other doesn’t. I do wonder whether having parts of this course (or even the whole course) outlines in a set of lesson plans that students can examine and modify as part of the assessment might offer some interesting possibilities (and difficulties).
- The question of transformation.
The set text talks about the transformation of learning enabled by ICTs and yet discussion of lectures and tutorials feature heavily when talking about the course. The course doesn’t seem to show much evidence of transformation.
- The need to know more about the nature of technology?
It appears that there isn’t much talk about the nature of technology and its impact on society. This sort of thing could quickly become boringly theoretically pointless, but could be useful. Wonder if this would be revisiting a previous version of the course?
- Making it public and authentic.
The course seems to have a bit of group work. But it’s all presented within the virtual or physical class. I’m keen to see this go outside the class. What can these students do for assessment that would be valued by their mentor teachers, other student teachers and the broader
- Why is ICT and pedagogy still separate?
I’m escaping the information systems (IS) discipline and moving into education. In part, because it appears that information systems is shrinking due to ICT becoming part of everyday life. Instead of there being a separate discipline (IS) examining the integration of technology and organisational/social life, the organisational and social sciences are examining technology.
I can see echoes of this in this course, as mentioned above. If technology is part of every day learning and teaching, why have a separate ICT in pedagogy course? Shouldn’t it be part of all the courses?
The obvious answer at the moment is that it really isn’t embedded in many of the other courses and there may remain some useful experiences to provide in this sort of course.
- How can I get the Pre-Service Teacher Networking (PSTN) project connected with this course.
There are some good folk trying to get an interesting project up and going. I’m keen for this course, or at least some of the students within it, to engage with the project. I need to figure out how/if this can be done.
- Read more about the TTF.
It’s a big thing in the sector/discipline at the moment.
Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education, 32(3), 347-364.