The pedagogy should lead the technology. Should it?


Matt Lingard discusses the age-old mantra that pedagogy should lead the technology rather than the other way round. I think this arises from the fear among some faculty that somehow their more technical colleagues are doing all sorts of supposedly innovative things with technology which in the end of the day don’t actually help learners. That’s a legitimate concern – conference proceedings are littered with examples of learning technology experiments that cost a lot of money and had little or even negative impact on learners. Some of the more effective examples are detailed in JISC’s fascinating recent report: Exploring Tangible Benefits of e-Learning: Does Investment Yield Interest?

I have to say I’ve always thought this mantra was rubbish though. I’ve been hearing it for almost two decades. You wouldn’t have learning technology without the technology and there would be no learning technology without learning. If the web and its many underlying technologies hadn’t been invented we wouldn’t have the possibilities of web-based learning. If wikis, blogs, forums and video conferencing hadn’t emerged for other purposes then we wouldn’t have been able to look at how to use them for learning purposes.

Technology often leads the way and can make new forms of learning possible. The key is to apply the lessons we already know about learning to new technologies as they arise, and to evaluate continuously whether the new applications are having a positive impact on learning.

Get a degree in instructional technology to advance the technical fields.