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Innovative Pedagogy In A Digital Environment - How Complicated Is It?

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

As updated pedagogy adapts digital tools rapidly, Israel continues to lead and innovate.

In this post, I will address two questions:
1. When do digital tools meet innovative pedagogy?
2. How complicated is it to apply digital tools & innovative pedagogy in our schools?

We will start with the first question concerning innovative pedagogy.

21st-century skills are essential today as they allow students to prosper in academic, social, and work settings.

But, how do schools support students to develop these skills through pedagogical innovation?

Is pedagogical innovation concerns abanding old methods and applying entirely new ones?*

*In the education research field, scholars are still debating

Two subjects are not expected to change anytime soon, despite introducing technology into our lives: Human brain structure and the importance of prior knowledge in the process of meaning-making.

First, we know that our brain has a structure that influences the learning process. This structure includes two key areas: short-term memory (where the brain processes new information) and long-term memory. The learner stores the latest information in a way that links it to previous information.

The constructive approach is familiar to any teacher. It is based on cognitive science.

Teachers know that they need to direct students' attention and motivate them to stay in learning tasks as long as possible to deepen understanding.

Various theories also point to the need to create learning tasks that incorporate real-world problems, encourage students to explore a topic, point to the need to organize learning groups, stimulate discourse, including games, riddles, escape rooms, and more.

The innovation that technology offers us many opportunities:

  • Digital environments for self-directed learning

  • Research in a digital environment

  • MOOC courses

  • Digital tools for creating digital learning products

  • Video, presentations, and more

  • Ready-made digital templates

  • Blogs and websites for engaging students

  • Games, apps

  • Collaborative learning online projects

  • Maker-spaces

The second field recognizes the difference between a novice and an expert and is also related to the learning theories developed in recent decades. An expert in any area of knowledge has a great deal of prior knowledge on the subject of study. This knowledge is stored in the long-term memory in an organized manner that also allows for easy retrieval for immediate use when the learner encounters a complex problem in the real world. Therefore, it is easy for an expert to be creative, solve problems, and progress in his learning without the help of an outsider and become a self-directed student. In addition, he can participate and contribute in group learning; very often, he is also more successful in tests and more.

On the other hand, the novice does not have an organized knowledge of the subject being studied in his memory. On the contrary, he aims most of his learning efforts at creating the organized structure of knowledge. He needs many assignments that advance him based on what he has already been able to learn. He builds new knowledge with deliberate effort and requires encouragement and "scaffolding" to climb to an expert level. Suppose a novice learner is given a research assignment or asked to solve a problem from the real world. In that case, he probably will not always succeed because when the subject is entirely new to him, he will not bring solutions and answer questions at all. We know a lot about step-by-step learning, tailored learning, and supportive and proactive feedback, but it is challenging to implement in practice.

The innovation that technology offers us is accompanied by the learner personally in these stages in environments that provide practice in the fields of study themselves.

Thus, pedagogy is not innovative but uses the new means available in technology to fulfill the teacher's dream. That is, to be available to students who need support even if the school setting of large and heterogeneous. In the stimulus-laden visual-technological world we live in today.

Summarizing the answer to the first question-

Innovation in digital pedagogy rests on decades of education research. However, current pedagogy is not about inventing the wheel.

Instead, it enhances the teacher's ability to develop students' knowledge from 'novices' to' experts' by using digital tools and digital environments already available to educators today.

These tools and digital environments are funded by the school or the Ministry of Education.

Appropriate use of digital environments in learning promotes many digital skills, but not all of them.

In answer to a second question - how complicated is it to apply digital tools & innovative pedagogy in our classrooms today?

It's not complicated.

I argue that it all depends on the school's support for the teacher and its intention to change the teaching routines.

School leaders must mobilize parents, students, teachers to start the change together.

Today it is possible to apply the theoretical approach that points to the advantages of the teacher as a facilitator, a learning expert.

Read more in my previous post, where I expanded on the need to establish:

  • Laboratories instead of classrooms

  • Makers-space instead of a museum environment

  • A public exhibit space instead of a binder for works

  • Coaching centers for educators instead of a teachers' room

You get some ideas from the poster-lesson plans that incorporate digital tools that we have designed for you. You can also sign up for our WhatsApp groups to receive the new posters straight to your mobile phone. Or watch our previous broadcasts where we explained how to use it.

* The text in this post about learning studies is based on this article.

As usual, I would love to get comments on these ideas here on the blog.

Good luck, 21st-century teachers.


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