Role reversal: bringing technology into pedagogy
October 01, 2009 by Amanda Tross
The fear of taking an established face-to-face class and transferring it into the online world is enough to rattle many instructors’ pedagogical theories to the core. But that fear does not need to exist, according to Sandra Price, teaching fellow at the University of Missouri Kansas City and adjunct professor at Kansas State University. Rather, we need to make technology the slave to our pedagogy.
After being asked to teach an online course in nonprofit management, Price began to research the pitfalls and successes of online courses and decided that her course and subsequent online courses would focus on finding the best technology tools to enhance her established face-to-face pedagogy. What resulted was her goal-orientated iCARE method, which provides a powerful learning opportunity for students and instructors.
“Your coursework has to be relevant and students have to see the connection between themselves, what they are learning and their larger world, whether personally or professionally,” said Price. To help students invest in the course, Price suggests the following learning activities:
- Self-assessment (quizzes)
- Personalized courses to the specific interests of the students
- Journaling to help with self reflection and the opportunity to see one’s growth
- Students as teachers
- Mentors to provide opportunities to further student careers or and learn new skills
- Service learning opportunities to demonstrate skill, apply classroom knowledge and meet others
- Portfolio building to create visual representations of student’s best work
- Case studies using local or pressing events
“I chose ‘connect’ rather than ‘collaborate’ because successful collaboration requires community and trust building first,” said Price. “Class collaboration is important for reflective opportunities, but engaging and connecting to the community is very powerful.” For example, Price’s class will all watch a movie and simultaneously chat online. She also suggests giving extra credit when students personalize their Axio profile.
- Know each other by connecting personally through visual or audio introductions, profiles and personal experience exercises done as a team and through groups that start and finish together.
- Collaborate with team projects, book groups, wikis, role playing, negotiations and peer reviews.
- Make external connections with mentors, community labs, research opportunities outside of the classroom and service learning opportunities.
“Students, by far, enjoy applying their course knowledge the most,” said Price. “It allows them the ability to practice classroom skills and actually transfer them into a real world setting.” Some of Price’s students have applied themselves by completing a statistical analysis of an AIDS education program in Zambia, putting together fundraising plans, organizing a spring break trip to renovate housing units for homeless and creating a community garden.
- Role playing and simulations using negotiations and problem-solving scenarios or case studies
- Games and simulations
- Service learning opportunities
- Community labs to check learned theory against the real world
“Over the past 20 years, the study of learning has moved from behavioral to cognitive psychology, so the need for advanced thinking ability is necessary in any course. We have to think about what we are learning, our own biases, and how the new information fits and doesn’t fit with older experiences and understandings,” said Price.
Among other tools, she uses Axio’s message board tool to facilitate threaded reflection discussions.
- Concept webbing/mapping to reflect on relationships
- Role reversals or debates to provide a chance to change lenses
- Journaling as an opportunity to reflect
- Debriefing during or after any experience
- Peer evaluation of assignments to create critical thinking opportunities
- Guided blogging so the blog is more than just a report, but also a reflection
- Discussion opportunities to share differing perspectives
“This is my word for take-away. Whether it’s a physical product like a portfolio that they can share with future employers, or an experience they can put on a resume, or something more ephemeral, like a relationship with a mentor or a local firm,” said Price. “The most powerful take-away has been the relationship students have built inside their organizations. Obviously this doesn’t even require technology. Your class is about the experiences your student has, and technology should support that, but not be an end unto itself.”
- Portfolio building
- Webpage or blog
- Community lab
- Service learning
Watch Price’s 2009 Axio Conference presentation, “Tuned In, Turned On: the iCARE system for built-in student learning satisfaction” on the conference website.