Appropriate pedagogy for the use of technology in secondary school classrooms requires learner-centred approaches (Sutherland 2004; Chang and Wang 2009). Learner-centred pedagogy involves students being actively involved in knowledge construction. Dwyer et al, (1991) in Fullan and Smith (2000) outline the differences between knowledge instruction and knowledge construction. Essentially, knowledge instruction is viewed as the transfer of thoughts from one who is knowledgeable to one who is not, and teacher work is perceived as direct instruction. Knowledge construction views learning as a personal, reflective, and transformative process where teacher work comprises facilitating students’ abilities to integrate ideas, experiences, and points of view into something new. The two approaches are not incompatible and simply position on a continuum of learning strategies.
Knowledge construction views learning as a personal, reflective, and transformative process where teacher work comprises facilitating students’ abilities to integrate ideas, experiences, and points of view into something new (Fullan and Smith 2000). According to them there are more possibilities with a classroom that enables knowledge construction.
“In a knowledge construction setting, technology becomes a tool to help students access information, communicate information and collaborate with others. In today’s classrooms there is certainly the need for some knowledge instruction but a great deal of student activity might involve knowledge construction given the explosion of information” (Fullan and Smith 2000).
These technology-based, learner-centred and knowledge constructivist pedagogical approaches are more readily appearing around the world. For example, Australian schools and teachers are integrating ICT to support experiential, constructivist learning in schools and across learning sites; engage students in personalized, collaborative, connected and interactive learning; and broaden and use new pedagogies (MCEETYA 2006).
Student centred pedagogy and its associated approaches have resulted in personalised learning environments for students. Personalised learning refers to the “school’s capacity to use ICT to extend and differentiate student learning opportunities, and to support students to manage and direct their learning” (MCEETYA 2008). Emerging technologies offer unique opportunities to personalise the learning environment for individual learners. A 2009 Horizon Report sponsored by the New Media Consortium identifies the ‘personal web’ as,
“a collection of technologies that confer the ability to reorganise, configure, and manage online content rather than just view it; but part of the personal web is the underlying idea that web content can be sorted, displayed, and even built upon according to an individual’s personal needs and interests” (Johnson, Levine et al. 2009).
The personal web enables students to experience school in a different way; a more ‘personalised’ way due to the advent of technology (Drexler 2010).
The personalised learning environment, “promotes inquiry-based learning and digital literacy, empowers the learner, and offers flexibility as new technologies emerge” (Drexler 2010). The requirements of personalised learning place high demands on teachers and schools, and it is not surprising that personalised learning is entering schools only slowly (ICT Cluster European Commission 2010). However, the development of personalised learning as part of a school learning environment, assists teachers adopt technology in their classrooms.
There is an implication that pedagogic change and greater personalisation of learning are both necessary for student centred, self-regulated and independent learning (Sebba, Brown et al. 2007; McLoughlin and Lee 2009). Addressing the need to rethink and reposition pedagogy for the new learning landscape of the 21st century calls for the active involvement of students in defining their learning goals and choosing both ICT tools and strategies for learning; it also requires recognition that user and learner generated content has a central place in a curriculum that fosters self-regulated learning.
To adopt new pedagogies which allow for increased use of technology, the design of programs and units of work within the guidelines of syllabus documentation, requires problem-based learning and project-based activities (Rotherham and Willingham 2010). All of this signals a need to reconsider our notions of pedagogy so that learners are envisaged as active participants and co-producers of learning resources rather than passive consumers of content.
Drexler, W. (2010). “The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy.” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 26(3): 369-385.
MCEETYA (2006). Leadership strategy: Learning in an online world. . Carlton South, Australia, Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, Australia.
McLoughlin, C. and M. Lee, . (2009). “Personalised and self regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software.” Educational Technology 26(1): 28-43.
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