putting the instruction in instructional technologist?

I just got an annoucement in my inbox for an upcoming NERCOMP SIG entitled The P Word: What is Pedagogy, and Should it Drive Instructional Technology?

My jaw dropped to the floor when I read this, as I assume yours is doing at this very moment.  After I collected myself, I scrolled down in the progam and discovered that the notion that pedagogy should drive the integration of technology in the classroom is, in fact, at the heart of the workshop.  Thank goodness, given that it’s a much-researched, much written-about, commonly accepted theory of technology integration.  Whew!

But I’m still somewhat troubled by the notion that it’s necessary to hold a workshop on pedagogy for instructional technologists that starts at such as basic level as defining the word pedagogy.  The implication that pedagogy is a dirty word for instructional technologists is also surprising.  Maybe it’s just a bad choice of words, but if not, what does the instructional in instructional technologist stand for?  Perhaps it reflects a balance that gives more weight to technology than to instruction.  In any case, I found it surprising. 

There’s a lot of learning theory that tells us how students learn best, which contradicts the established method of teaching in higher ed.  I’ve always seen instructional technologists as being on the leading edge, fighting the good fight for pedagogical change – they are, after all, the people in the best position to engage faculty in conversations about their teaching, even if those conversations start with questions about technology.  I guess that, just as I’m finding in my own research on undergrad student technology practices, I/we need to be careful about the assumptions that we make about this stuff.


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