There are a few people who have worked to define digital pedagogy but to me it’s about the intersection of the online context, the curriculum, and quality pedagogy. I may even think of it like this:
And that’s fine. My understanding is useful for some and not for others. I basically believe that pedagogy is not a stand-alone concept. It needs to take into consideration the needs of the curriculum, including a high expectation of rigour in the application of the content; the environment, or online context that curriculum is presented through; and what it means to be an inclusive and justice oriented online educator through the selection of strategies and how relationships are formed. I generally write blog posts in the pedagogy node because I’m interested how people compose things in online environments. I am also becoming more and more interested in justice in online spaces and how teachers should recognise how their privilege comes across in the decisions they make (just like in regular classrooms). So usually my thinking looks more like this:
Other scholars around the world are looking at all different aspects of digital pedagogy and you can find a lot of the conversation in Hybrid Pedagogy, an open access, open peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the topic. You can also search the hashtag #digciz or #digped to connect with many of these scholars on Twitter. When you spend some time reading within this community digital pedagogy as a field begins to resemble this:
Sometimes working in a field where there is so much to consider is like keeping a million balls juggling. It is literally impossible to be across it all. There are certain frameworks which guide the development of digital pedagogy, but these frameworks are in constant flux. For one, technology keeps changing, as does the curriculum. For example, I have been teaching primary Humanities and Social Sciences online for a few years now and we have had two major curriculum changes in that time. Each time that happens I have to adjust the curriculum node and rethink how that is going to be delivered in the online context of the specific university I am teaching in. Furthermore, each cohort is unique with differing needs and those need to be considered in an online context. So in reality digital pedagogy feels like this:
This is quite overwhelming at times and I never feel like I’ve got a complete expert grasp on digital pedagogy. There is absolutely no formula for what works in a constantly shifting field, nor will there ever be.
I believe that this is because I have had the wrong conceptualisation of our community. It is not my responsibility to be across everything in order to be an effective researcher in the field. I need to stop thinking I need to catch all the balls to be the expert. I need to embed myself in the community as someone who is considering one aspect of the field, and I am connected to many others who are considering others. It is in the networked concentration on moments of conflict in digital pedagogy that the field can advance.
Yesterday I read a wonderful article by Qi who explained that being a critical scholar is problematic if the expectation is that the scholar knows all the answers. If I want to place myself in the field as an expert I am setting up a power imbalance between myself and those who want to know. It’s also exhausting. Qi describes networks of communities in China called hutongs. When a problem arises within one hutong, there is no expectation that the single hutong works it out for themselves. All the other hutongs have different and nuanced understandings of the problem and together they all present a remedy. This appealed to me greatly.
I have brought Qi’s definition of networked hutongs into how I’ve watched and participated in digital pedagogy scholarship online. We are constantly connecting through hashtags, pinging each other on Twitter, reading each other’s blogs, and citing each other’s articles. We have a literal digital network which IS digital pedagogy. This network morphs and flows with the ideas that are brought forth. It is a field of criticality and discussion over the fine details of thinking. Each member of the network, each educational actor, as Qi calls it, no matter their title, is welcome and their contribution valued – academics, teachers, students, policy makers, educational leaders etc. So digital pedagogy really looks a bit like this (has someone actually mapped it?):
While digital pedagogy is a small field it means that there has been the opportunity to shape the research culture from scratch. And though I have been on the peripheral watching for a while (my barrier is time zone), I am really eager to connect and be a part of a more horizontal approach to educational research.