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Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

Introduction to Pedagogical Theories of Learning

What is Pedagogy and Why is it Important?

Pedagogy is the theory and practice of education. As librarians, at the very least, a part of our professional lives are spent teaching and instructing our stakeholders. It is thus important to think about how we teach, how we deliver the information to our students that must be delivered. This section of the Libguide will introduce a selective range of pedagogical theories that apply to Digital Pedagogy in particular. 

The pedagogical approaches, which will frequently be referred to in other sections of the Libguide, that will be elaborated upon here include:

  • Constructivism
  • Constructionism
  • Active Learning
  • Problem Based or Inquiry Based Learning
  • Andragogy

Why Pedagogy?

Cathy Davidson and  “Why Start With Pedagogy?"

In her  "Why Start With Pedagogy? – 4 Good Reasons and 4 Good Solutions,” writing for HASTAC, Cathy Davidson argues that “you can change to a pedagogy of liberation today, one where, in any discipline, at any level, at any college or university, you help your students to find their own agency, their own mission, and connect that empowerment to larger social purposes and to the role of higher education as a social good.”

Davidson presents the fact that the research on active learning indicates that student learn to a greater degree by engaging in their own research interests and projects. Davidson suggests the following four pedagogical methods for those tasked with instructing post-secondary students, students that have had at least twelve years of a pedagogical approach where “mastering the formal education methods where hierarchy and control displace all the complex, experience-based, interactive learning methods,” was typically the norm. Davidson states that the suggestions are based on extensively researched theories, practices, and methods that have been designed to help students retain and apply complex ideas that are transferable to other learning situations. 

1. Your pedagogical approach is in your control : Davidson describes the various inequalities that can occur within the post-secondary system, and states that those who educate in the post-secondary setting “can rethink pedagogy and enact change in how students learn-- and change lives tomorrow.” She insists that pedagogy is the responsibility of the instructor, and that as the instructor,  “you can change how you teach and learn immediately, in ways large and small, in virtually any institutional setting.” This applies to both faculty members and librarians equally.

2. Your pedagogical approach is free.  Davidson argues that it does not cost anything to go from a teacher centered to a student centered environment. The student centered environment is marked through interactivity, engagement, research-based, goal driven, egalitarian approaches. classroom. Davidson insists that instructors do not necessarily need to include technology into this process, technology can also go a far way in terms of creating engagement.

3. Student centered pedagogy works: Davidson insists that if you try student centered techniques, you will have successful responses. She also states that student centered learning has the potential to enrich everyone’s learning, lightens the instructor’s own load, and makes everyone feel included. She argues that this approach is similar to why a democracy is preferable to oligarchy, in terms of a social idea. She refers to Eric Mazur (Harvard) who argues that “just putting student inquiry at the center of a classroom helps everyone learn better, deeper, and more.” 

4.    It is gratifying and gives you energy and inspiration for the bigger institutional battles: There are numerous difficulties and injustices being faced at the post-secondary level (high tuition rates, adjunct professorship, irrelevant curriculum), so, Davidson argues, why not change your curriculum so that students become more engaged in ways they were not before? Davidson states that it is both gratifying and inspiring.