Prior to the Information Age, teachers were expected to stand at a podium and expound upon topics that were otherwise out of reach to the students. Since the last part of the 20th century, instructors have felt a shift from being the information hub to being the architects who must gather the various informational materials and help the students to build their own solid edifices from it. This evolution of the trade can be difficult for instructors to navigate, especially if their only instructional models came from the era of information hubs. The shift from hub to architect often requires that the instructors learn new pedagogical practices and new technologies.
If you find yourself in the uncomfortable phase of this shift, there are certain places to start and resources to harness in order to help you with the transition. According to Julie Dirksen in Design for How People Learn (2016), the best starting point is to ask yourself several questions about the learners and the learning goals. For example:
- Who are the learners?
- What are the goals of the course?
- What are the gaps between where the learner is now and where s/he needs to be?
- How can I, as the instructor, help my students to bridge the gaps?
In order to answer the last question, you’ll want a certain understanding of different pedagogical methods that could help you and your students toward your goals. Vanderbilt University has built a descriptive site about methods at this link, Pedagogies & Strategies. It also introduces some technologies that support the methods. MERLOT, a group dedicated to improving instructional design, has also made a great list of pedagogical methods at this link, MERLOT Pedagogy Portal.
Pedagogical methods and strategies range from discussions, to collaborative learning practices, to multi-media, to experiential learning and beyond. The choice may be different for each course and context. Getting a solid grasp on the possibilities will help you to have a complete toolkit from which you can choose the most appropriate tool for each learning experience.
By answering the questions about your learners and the goals of your course, and by learning new pedagogical practices, you’re well on your way through the shift from information hub to master architect leading students to build their own solid structures.
Dirksen, J. (2016). Design for how people learn (2nd ed). New Riders: USA.