Defining and Evaluating Online Pedagogy

Defining and Evaluating Online Pedagogy

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5055-8.ch005
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Online pedagogy is a new subject area in terms of education compared to traditional pedagogy. Specifically referring to the way a teacher can teach online and the way in which a student can learn online, this area of study may have some overlap with traditional pedagogies but relies on new ways of thinking, teaching, and learning in order to be successful. This chapter defines the term online pedagogy as it relates to traditional notions of the educational process. By understanding the role of the instructor in the online classroom, a reader is able to understand the distinction between traditional and online pedagogies. Furthermore, by demonstrating the significant differences in teaching and learning, online pedagogy is uniquely justified as a new area of research, scholarship, and development.
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Areas of competence important for teaching at a distance include course planning and organization, verbal and nonverbal presentation skills, collaborative teamwork, questioning strategies, subject matter expertise, involving students and coordinating their activities at field sites, knowledge of basic learning theory, knowledge of the distance learning field, design of study guides, graphic design and visual thinking (Cyrs, 1997).Purdy and Wright (1992)asserted that, ‘it is not that the technology underpinning distance education drives the system, but rather that fundamental changes in teaching style, technique, and motivation must take place to make the new classrooms of the present and future function effectively.’ What fundamental changes must instructors make to make distance learning more effective and appropriate for a growing audience? –L.J. Richards, K.E. Dooley, & J.R. Lindner (2004)

Traditional face-to-face (F2F) classroom pedagogies have long been studied and utilized. Some of the more traditional technologies that are used we do not even consider to be technological developments anymore, such as the pencil, pen, and chalkboard. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “pedagogy,” has three main definitions:

  • 1.

    A place of instruction; a school, a college; a university…Frequently used between the 15th and 17th centuries as a name for the universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews; also for the faculty of arts at both places.

  • 2.

    Instruction, discipline, training; a system of introductory training; a means of guidance.

  • 3.

    The art, occupation, or practice of teaching. Also: the theory or principles of education; a method of teaching based on such a theory. (“Pedagogy”)

Although such definitions make the concepts of pedagogy seem easy to understand and work with, the definitions are anything but simplistic. Those attempting to define or understand the complexity of pedagogy typically find themselves surprised by the “diversity of definitions, understandings, and interpretations [that] emerge over time” (Loughran, 2005, p. 1). Loughran explains that “pedagogy,” is usually used as a catch-all term that refers just to teaching in a general sense even though beginning with “ped,” should indicate teaching children (p. 2). In recent years, we have popularized the term andragogy to make the distinction between teaching adults from teaching younger demographics, especially in terms of higher education.

Knowles (1984) was especially interested in distinguishing learning techniques and theories specific to adult learners.

Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning:

1. Adults need to know why they need to learn something

2. Adults need to learn experientially,

3. Adults approach learning as problem-solving, and

4. Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value. (Knowles, 1984a; Knowles, 1984b; qtd. in Culatta, 2013, par. 1)

Learning about ways in which the information given to adult students can be better received is immensely helpful to instructors, new and experienced. Knowles has identified four principles pertaining to adult education:

  • 1.

    Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.

  • 2.

    Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities.

  • 3.

    Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life.

  • 4.

    Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented. (Knowles, 1984; qtd. in Culatta, 2013, par. “Principles”)

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