Originally published on the Educational Technology and Change Journal
Web 2.0 and didactic teaching may not seem directly related, but Web 2.0 challenges the way we teach across the board, and the impact will be felt as much in higher education as anywhere else. In general terms, in England, didactic delivery of lectures is prevalent. I’m happy to be challenged on this, but that is my experience. Whatever my motivation for starting this job (as a learning technologist), my motivation for continuing is very much to do with trying to change this status quo. There are others, but this is dominant.
Why? This is difficult to get to the heart of. But it might have something to do with my experiences of education. What worked best for me. What was negative for me. It might have something to do with the fact that where I perceive bad teaching, it usually involves didactic, transmissive models. Didactic teaching is also the setup that requires the least planning, sometimes no more than deciding on the content. In some ways, it’s lazy teaching. People who don’t want to think about how they teach, will be didactic.
Coincidentally, these people will also not want to hear about learning technology. I never saw myself as championing particular pedagogies, but the various collaborative models lend themselves to everything that is positive about Web 2.0 and, therefore, my way of thinking. I have used the phrase “Web 2.0″ rather than “learning technologies” because some learning technologies are concerned with presenting content (albeit in a flexible way) rather than offering different ways of delivering and learning. Web 2.0 gives us the right social, collaborative, creative idea.
So how does Web 2.0 or any learning technology challenge didactic teaching? The simple answer is that when you show educators any learning technology, they are forced to think about how they teach. For higher education in England, the didactic, transmissive model is prevalent so this is being challenged. So, by making people think about how they teach, you are breaking down the status quo as I called it earlier. It’s worth noting that I’m not convinced our educators think about how they teach enough. My role is not ostensibly about challenging teaching methods; it’s about learning technology. But the didactic approach is often the issue underlying resistance to change.
This is where the obvious impact of Web 2.0 on all of our lives is important. The more the impact, the harder it is to ignore. The more obvious the benefit, the harder it is to ridicule. Just look at Twitter and the Iran elections.