Pedagogical Values in Online and Blended Learning Environments in Higher Education

Pedagogical Values in Online and Blended Learning Environments in Higher Education

Sophia Palahicky, Donna DesBiens, Ken Jeffery, Keith Stuart Webster
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5557-5.ch005
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Pedagogical values directly affect student performance and, therefore, are essential to successful teaching practice. It is absolutely critical that post-secondary educators examine and reflect on their pedagogical values because these principles pave the path for student success. This chapter describes four pedagogical values that are critical to student success within the context of online and blended learning environments in higher education: 1) value of care; 2) value of diversity; 3) value of community; and 4) value of justice.
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Many educators venture into the field without taking time to reflect on the pedagogical values they bring with them to the learning environment. When educators talk about pedagogy, often teaching strategies and assessment practices become the main topics of discussion. However, the pedagogical values that underpin specific educational practices are based in our worldviews, beliefs, perspectives, and biases about teaching and learning. What do you deem to be necessary for student success in various learning environments, and why? What do you deem to be important, and why? What do you deem to be beneficial, and why? Articulating your pedagogical values depends on critical reflection on such questions. So, why is it important to articulate our pedagogical values? In the big picture, broad knowledge about values serves as the foundation to a democratic educational experience (Heasly, 2015). On an individual level, this is important because the act of teaching is imbued with values as it encompasses ongoing personal choices in action, judgement, and evaluation (Gudmundsdottir, n.d.).

What educators believe about teaching and learning is critically important, because values drive practices that may be beneficial – or not – for learner success. What pedagogical values guide your own choices, actions, judgements, and evaluative decisions in your teaching practice? What worldviews, beliefs, and perspectives inform your values? Before responding to these questions, educators must first acknowledge that pedagogical decisions, actions, and behaviors aren't solely related to the development of content or design and development of learning activities. It is imperative that educators reflect on how they interact with students, how they engage students, how they support students, and how they aide in the holistic development of students, versus merely addressing content and outcomes (Lovat, Dally, Clement & Toomey, 2011). This chapter examines four essential pedagogical values that enhance student success: ethics of care, diversity, community, and justice.

We propose that when educators critically reflect on their pedagogical values, they can increase their effectiveness in building engaged, creative, and inclusive learning environments. Philosopher and educator Toulmin (1996) observes that we need well-founded ethical judgement to describe, explain, and improve practices in human studies, due to clear moral and political implications in their effects on people’s lives. Toulmin also reminds us that criticism of value commitments in any science only have “bite” when assumptions, beliefs, and biases are not made explicit. In our view, the Western democratic ideals of education that emphasize inclusion and equitable participation are worth pursuing. One early statement of these ideals is Dewey’s (1916) conception of education as a social process to create a desirable society, i.e. one that

makes provision for participation in its good of all its members on equal terms and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through…equitably distributed interests. (p. 63, 64)

In one contemporary framing of these ideals, Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012) identify open scholarship values for the ideals of democratization, fundamental human rights, equality, and justice and highlight challenges associated with the movement’s aspirations of broadening access to education and knowledge, such as the commodification of MOOCs, and unequal access to technology and/or lack of digital literacies. Veletsianos and Kimmons propose that,

scholars need to develop an understanding of participatory cultures and social/digital literacies in order to take full advantage of open scholarship.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blended Learning Environments: Includes a combination of face-to-face classes with asynchronous and/or synchronous internet-based classes in higher education using a variety of educational technologies for communication, collaboration, and student engagement.

Social Presence: As a component of both the CoI model and the fully online learning community (FOLC) model, social presence is the socially mediated, interpersonal aspect of learning. Learners interact with the course material, each other, and with the instructor through social presence.

Affective Domain: One of the three domains of learning identified in Bloom’s taxonomy that focuses on how human beings deal with their learning on an emotional level. This includes feelings, appreciation, attitudes, values, and motivations for and of the learned.

Decolonization: Efforts to remove the punitive structures placed by a colonial power over Indigenous peoples and to mitigate the ill effects produced by these structures.

Learning Environment: A construct that defines the learning space occupied by the students. This does not necessarily mean a physical space, but could also mean a virtual or online space.

Community of Inquiry (CoI): A theoretical framework that situates learning within a group of learners and is based upon the premise that learning is inherently social, and that learning is supported through three distinct presences: social, teaching, and cognitive.

Cognitive Domain: One of the three domains of learning identified in Bloom’s taxonomy that focuses on how human beings acquire knowledge. This domain includes learning information, developing thinking, and knowledge-based skills, as well as memory and analytic processes.

Critical Pedagogy: Teaching and learning designed to enable learners, particularly members of oppressed or marginalized groups, to combat social injustice and prejudice.

Pedagogy of Care: Method and practice of teaching where the instructor takes the role of care-giver and student takes the role of care-receiver. Caring is relational and includes concern for person and performance.

Online Learning Environments: Includes both asynchronous and synchronous internet-based higher education programs using a variety of educational technologies for communication, collaboration, and student engagement.

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