You can’t teach someone to swim while they’re drowning.
Instead, he suggests we should be engaging with whatever is at hand.
What does kitchen math look like in an emergency online learning space? It is an engagement of the tools common to your environment and based fully in pedagogical principles. The technology informs the pedagogy. If the goal is instructor presence, why not film a short video on a mobile device reflecting on the relationship of the course and this time in life, and share it with students? If the concern is the validity of an examination, why not think about a way in which students could use those same cameras not to film or photograph themselves taking a multiple choice exam but constructing knowledge by building a manipulative at home that shows the relationship of the individual to instruction? If there’s a concern about some of the reading, use the telecommunications tools for discussion or even a read-aloud session. Working with what’s available not only eases the faculty burden, it grounds the learning in the environment of the learner. Everyone is dealing with the same emergency; the best tools to get through this are the ones we have regular interaction with, not those brought in as a panic buy with a significant instructional manual and learning curve.
One of my greatest fears right now is that this pandemic strengthens this surveillance culture in school. And the new technologies, adopted to ease the “pivot to digital,” will exacerbate existing educational inequalities, will put vulnerable students at even more risk. These technologies will for foreclose possibilities for students and for teachers alike, shutting down dissent and discussion and curiosity and community.
As education moves online we are going to have to get better at stating, and upholding, our values around trust and care with the concomitant acknowledgment of the risk we are accepting to protect certain freedoms. If not, then education will continue to merge with the corporate/civic surveillance state we are now only too aware of. To avoid sleepwalking into this new normal there will be times where we must deliberately refuse to use aspects of the data and control which technology offers, even when there are demands framed in terms of fairness or reduction of risk.
Neil Selwyn captures this sentiment by highlighting the need for educators to remember the human aspects involved within technology.
Teachers need to have good awareness of the social, emotional and affective aspects of technology-based education, and feel confident in their capacity to respond appropriately. Teaching of any sort is never simply a technical process – this is certainly the case when teaching online.