Thursday, 11 December 2008

The pedagogic medium is the message?

One of the things I've been thinking and posting about recently - and it's created conflict with some of the MA course team - is that in terms of teaching, learning and assessment practices, the medium is the message.

For example, if I wanted to run on module on critical pedagogy, would it make sense to 'deliver' (deposit into student accounts?) that module via a series of weekly lectures, fortnightly seminars and a 3,000- word essay from a selection of titles that I, as the module leader, had developed?

I guess my own answer to that question is no; the types of learning activites and assessment opportunities we construct demonstrate to students what constitutes knowing and acting in an appropriate way in a given area of intellectual inquiry. To run such a module in such a way would surely run counter to the core ideas covered (e.g. the student-teaching power relationship)?

Maybe this is too extreme; maybe it's perfectly coherent intellectually to deliver this module in this way if the learning outcomes require some form of description of, for example, Freire's core ideas or their application to practice. However, it's a missed opportunity for 'deep' rather than 'surface' learning.

Returning to my (their) MA (whose course is it anyway?), the core concepts of Module 1 seem to be:

  1. literacies as plural
  2. literacy practices and events as socially embedded and operating in distinct domains
  3. the growing importance of multiple semiotic modalities in emerging text-making practices.

My grouse is about an assessment that privileges one kind of academic literacy (the essay) and doesn't appear to wish to license exploration to explore other (e.g. digital, possibly multimodal) forms of constructing academic discourse or other ways of being academically literate.

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