The 'P' word, as one academic put it recently, is arguably the most fundamental and important perspectives from which we can view our courses. Pedagogy is '...any conscious activity by one person designed to enhance learning in another.' (Mortimore, 1999: 3). It's the art and science of teaching...or more specifically, the strategies and tactics that teachers use, and the philosophies and educational theories that underpin them, to achieve learning outcomes and enhance the learning and teaching experience.


Learning is most effective when an appropriate blend of pedagogical strategies are used at both course and subject level. That means that jumping on the latest bandwagon, or applying a single strategy across your whole course will seldom be successful. Similarly, just because one course uses a particular teaching approach successfully doesn't mean that all our courses should make the switch. An appropriate blend means that it suits your learning context - your discipline, your students and yourselves, as academics and teaching staff.

The CSU Degree recognises and respects the incorporation of discipline pedagogies, such as the incorporation of problem-based learning in those disciplines involving clinical diagnosis or intensive situation analysis. It's important to consider not only how adults learn in general, but the kinds of situations your students will face within their professions, and the kinds of pedagogies that might best support their development to cope in these situations.

Common pedagogical approaches and concepts used in blended and flexible learning are:

What does your course strategy have to say about your pedagogical approaches, and how does this reflect these principles (as incorporated into your own course principles)?


Learning from others' experiences...

talk.jpgIn April 2011, FLI interviewed 9 of our Teaching Fellows who have been exploring blended and flexible learning in their courses/subjects. The interviews looked at what the fellows had been working on, and what they had learned in relation to BFL and in particular, to each of the five perspective areas. The videos of these interviews are currently being edited, and will be available from this site very soon. We are also currently writing up a series of case studies that highlight the approaches others have taken to blended and flexible learning. These will be added here, as soon as they are available.

For further examples, check CSU's 'About ICT Integration' and 'About ePortfolios' sites on Interact, and check the 'case studies' and 'examples' tags in FLI's bookmarks on Delicious.

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What teaching strategies are you using that have had good success with your students? Please share here or, if you want to leave a general comment (e.g. what you need from this page that isn't yet here), use the discussion tab at the top. You'll need to request membership of the wiki to be able to edit this page.


Some questions for course teams to consider

question.jpgThe following questions are just some of those that your team might consider when examining your course from a pedagogical perspective. If you have found other questions which have helped your team focus on course pedagogy, please include them for others as a comment on this page.

What is the current blend of teaching approaches used across your course, and how would you explain this mix to students?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Create a matrix which shows the range of approaches used across your course, and when they are used. Use the matrix to consider whether your students are being exposed to a diversity of approaches, the kinds of approaches that are being used at different stages of the course, and whether these are appropriate and take advantage of the students' developing skills.

Are your course outcomes and key assessments clearly defined, aligned with your learning activities and equivalent between cohorts?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Develop a course outline which makes the learning outcomes, course structure and core elements explicit to students. Where possible, relate the course outcomes to students’ long term goals. Make explicit connections between curriculum, teaching, learning, assessment, tools and learning outcomes.
  • Consider the principles provided through the Good Practice Guides for Assessment and the First Year Experience.

Does your course focus on authentic, student centred tasks, emphasising individual responsibility for learning?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Establish learners’ goals and needs early on and modify activities to meet these.
  • Provide in-context, authentic learning experiences with a focus on problem solving and meaningful reflection.
  • Include open-ended, authentic assessment, where students have some choice in the assessment task.
  • Include resources that are interactive and allow learners to determine how they learn. Scaffold the use of the ePortfolio/personal learning environment to support students in managing their learning and development.

How does your course currently maximise synergies and maintain connectedness between subjects, professional practice and community activities?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Use appropriate technologies (e.g. blog, ePortfolio, online meeting, chat) to enhance the degree of connectedness to the University that students experience when undertaking professional placements and community activities.

How does your course build on students’ prior knowledge and incorporate both independent and peer learning to extend their own perspectives?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Encourage students to develop a first year portfolio, which details their prior knowledge.

Do you transfer face-to-face teaching strategies to online teaching, or is online learning used to accomplish different things, in different ways?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Break down your subject activities in terms of those which require you to be present, those that require you to guide but not necessarily be physically present, and those that require students to work independently, either individually or in groups. Now look at the kinds of learning spaces in which these currently occur - are you making the most of your face-to-face time and online time, or could you reorganise where some activities happen to accomplish more?

How do you, over the course of the degree, support your students to develop meta-cognitive and reflective skills?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Provide opportunities for learners to reflect on learning experiences in their personal learning space (e.g. ePortfolio, blog).

How are you helping your students to develop their own personal learning network, to facilitate lifelong learning?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • If you haven't already, start by developing your own personal learning network (see toolbox in the ICT perspective for ideas).
  • Develop a strategy for gradually moving students from institutional systems into social systems in the final year of their degree.

How do you currently harness incidental learning that occurs outside of formal learning experiences?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Emphasise the value of informal learning with your students, and encourage them to record critical incidents in their blog or ePortfolio. Create space in the curriculum to share informal learning experiences, and where possible, value these through assessment.

How will your course team be encouraged to innovate in a world of high workloads and multiple pressures?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • Encourage all course team members to join CSU’s Yammer community and other external networks (e.g. ITForum) to explore innovative approaches to student learning
  • Encourage a course team member to apply for a FLI Teaching Fellowship to explore a perceived area of need for innovative and creative approaches.
  • Allow opportunities for the course team to consider their changing roles and the implications.

Do you have a plan to ensure your course is continuously renewed? What challenges are facing your staff, and are there strategies you can use to overcome these?
Actions that would make a difference:
  • As part of the course strategy, determine a plan for continuous renewal at course, subject, activity and assessment levels.
  • Encourage staff to use the Aspirational Framework and construct a personal professional development plan.


Toolbox

tools.jpgAn excellent resource for considering your course from a pedagogical perspective is Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe's book, Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age. The book has excellent coverage of various teaching and design approaches, and includes some great practical tools in the appendices.

We're also collecting a range of web resources in our Delicious site, tagged to make it easier to find what you need. The most recent additions on the pedagogy perspective are included here: