Fall Quarter is Convened and Digital Pedagogy

It is an evolving challenge to take the minutes to write this blog as Fall Quarter begins! I was encouraged to check out Convocation to get an impression of what learning and community means here at K and that definitely came through during the event. The words of President Wilson-Oyelaran stuck with me in particular. She made it clear that the singular goal of our college is not a laser focus on professional marketability or even the other extreme of learning simply for learning’s sake. Kalamazoo College is about “becoming fully at home in the world” and building “a passion for life that will not allow you to keep silent when you should speak; that will not allow you to be inactive when your action is needed.” Well said!

In addition to getting ready for Fall and making sure faculty have access and support for the resources they need, I’ve been spending some time this week reading and engaging conversations around the topic “digital pedagogy.” One provocative resource is the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy. Before digging in, this phrase struck me as another buzzword conjured by young educators or instructional designers do dismiss all that came before in pedagogy and most of what is happening now in classrooms. However, despite the present iconoclasm (End the LMS!), there are themes in digital pedagogy that I appreciate greatly. The definition offered by Hybrid Pedagogy references the conscientious use of digital technology as a pedagogical tool to utilize in teaching, not an end in itself. That’s a great sentiment that is easy to lose track of in the pursuit of fancy, shiny new tech to impress parents and prospective students.

Another sentiment, more complex and nuanced embedded within the philosophy of digital pedagogy, appears to be that the webspaces, communication platforms, software, and devices we encourage students to learn through should be implemented in a way that reflects the open, intersectional, creative, and non-hierarchical digital world that exists outside the “traditional” confines of the academy. This idea is big and subtlety controversial. Some instructors’ conceptions of the campus and the class are as contained bubbles in which learning is facilitated via a carefully organized set of stimuli through well-planned structures. The idea of throwing our learning environments out to enmesh digital spaces that threaten to wrest away control and introduce variables can be frightening. It’s also worth pursuing with caution keeping students’ best interests in mind. However, I think the impulse is firmly with a pedagogy that encourages active learning, play and making as a path to understanding, and freedom, choice, and chance as instructional principles. That is something I can get behind in educational technology.

It is Friday and this blog is getting far too heavy and philosophical. Everyone in Information Services has elaborately styled and ornamented offices. There are roller coasters, Star Wars toys, sports memorabilia, stuffed animals, and more. My young office is meek in this regard. However, these four are keeping me company atop my filing cabinet. This is my start.

EGO Gang

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