Robots (7).jpg

Pedagogy 

The second stage in the creation of an EdTech product is defining its pedagogical approach.

You should ask yourself, "How do I want learners to achieve their goals with this product?" 

How to consider learning science principles in the EdTech product designed for schools? 

  • Every EdTech product represents a certain pedagogical approach.

 

  • The pedagogical approach is formed of the learning activities and the features that affect the learning experience; interactivity, adaptivity, creativity, sociality.  

 

  • If the solution's design aligns with learning science principles, it is a pedagogically valid product. That indicates that meaningful use of the solution is likely to help learners to achieve those learning objectives that the activities are based on. 

  • There is no single pedagogy that would be ideal for all products. What pedagogical approach should be chosen depends always on the learning objectives that learners are supposed to achieve. 

Aligning Pedagogy With Your Learning Objectives

 

Education Alliance Finland has built a pedagogy evaluation framework across four conceptually separated but empirically intertwined pairs of concepts that are organized as being each other’s counterparts on a spectrum. 

 

The components we use to examine the pedagogical practices are organized as
concept-pairs such as:

1) Active vs. Passive, referring to the requirements of the learner's participation in the process;

2) Individual vs. Collaborative, referring to whether the pedagogy is directed towards individual or collaborative learning; 

3) Rehearse vs. Construct, referring to whether the learning activities are designed to drill and rehearse certain skills or information-bits or to build new knowledge networks; 

4) Linear vs. Non-linear, referring to the organization of the learning process, that is, whether it is expected to develop gradually on a fixed learning curve or more dynamically, across various possible curves.

​1. Passive or Active Learning? 

 

One of the key benefits of technology in learning is that it makes the learning materials interactive.

 

Interactivity means that the user can react to the given information, learn by doing, and get immediate feedback on his/her actions. The feedback can tell how well the learner succeeded in the task and it can guide the learner forward. Instead of "feedback", learning scientists prefer to use the word "feedforward" as it guides the user to do better next time. 

Interactivity is the basis of the Active Learning experience, but we shouldn't think that Active Learning is the only way to achieve results. At times it's valuable to provide moments with lower cognitive stress when the learner can for example watch a video, being in a Passive role. 

Indications of Active Learning are:

  • The solution includes interactives.

  • In order to progress the user is required to acquire and use new information.

  • The solution responds or adapts to user's activities.

  • The solution rewards user after progression.

  • The solution requires the user to choose what and how to learn.

If the learner is in a Passive role, mainly consuming material, it's valuable to try to maintain engagement through emotional engagement. It can happen by providing materials that learners can relate to and find interesting for themselves. A good example of emotionally engaging instructional materials is nature documentaries. Setting the challenge level optimal in these cases is important, likewise considering the learner's personal interests.  

Screenshot 2021-11-29 at 11.34.31.png
Screenshot 2021-11-29 at 13.56.32.png

2. Individual or Collaborative Learning? 

 

When considering the social interaction aspects of the EdTech product, it is important to ask questions like does the solution require social interaction, or does the solution allow learners to make all decisions independently?

With many EdTech products, the default use case is individual, which is a practical choice as it allows using the solution flexibly anytime and anywhere. However, as meaningful social interaction related to the learning objectives is known to affect positively on learning outcomes, it is valuable to consider how to design elements that spark conversations and knowledge exchange between learners. 

Indications of Collaborative Learning are:

  • The solution allows face-to-face interaction to be part of the learning experience.

    In order to progress the user is required to acquire and use new information.

  • The solution allows social interaction through digital channels as part of the learning experience.

  • The solution provides guidance for constructive collaboration.

  • The solution provides an open learning community to share information, thoughts, and experiences.

  • The solution promotes sharing of learning outcomes.

  • Collaboration is rewarded.

  • The user is responsible to other users.

  • The users are guided to help and support other users.

  • The users set common goals for learning.

3. Rehearsing or Constructing Knowledge? 

 

Depending on the learning objectives, the most effective way of reaching them might require numerous hours of drill or careful, constructive exploration of the learned topic. 

The rehearse and repetition based approach can work well with a type of learning content that requires strong routine and automation, such as learning foreign language words or practicing mental calculation. Quizzing until correct is a popular approach with these types of solutions, and it can be used also when learner is expected to build deeper understanding. However, in that case it can work better if the quiz is done first and after the completion the learner is explained more in detail what were the right answers and why those were the right ones. 

Knowledge building approach normally requires demonstrations, explanations and scaffolding when the learner is adopting new knowledge. 

Indications of Constructing knowledge approach are:

  • The solution aims to keep up the user's interest during the progress.

  • Solution guides the user to define own learning goals.

  • The solution supports learning new things through creative tasks.

  • The solution requires utilising learned in open-ended problem solving.

  • The solution guides the user in reflecting their progression.

  • The user is guided to make choices based on what should be learned next.

  • Success is based on the ability to adapt knowledge that the solution delivers.

  • The user can choose learning tools or methods based on one's own interests.

  • Prior skills or knowledge needs to be used in conjunction with new.

If the learner is in a Passive role, mainly consuming material, it's valuable to try to maintain engagement through emotional engagement. It can happen by providing materials that learners can relate to and find interesting for themselves. A good example of emotionally engaging instructional materials is nature documentaries. Setting the challenge level optimal in these cases is important, likewise considering the learner's personal interests.  

Screenshot 2021-11-29 at 14.19.53.png

4. Linear or Non-linear Learning? 

 

When mapping the characteristics of EdTech products, there are plenty of products from both ends of this scale.

 

EdTech tools where learners can create content (e.g. music platforms, or video editors) often allow a fully non-linear approach, as learners get to freely decide what to learn and how to learn when using the tool. 

Then again those products that include ready-made learning content, such as coding platforms or language learning applications, typically rely on a linear approach in order to introduce the content in a chronological and meaningful order. 

A common element between established and commercially successful EdTech products is a linear approach especially at the beginning of the usage. With linear, prefixed activities it's easier to onboard new users and support the feeling that they're taking correct actions and progressing. 

From the viewpoint of learning engagement, it is still crucial to consider if users can be given autonomy to make meaningful decisions regarding their own learning. Well-designed applications can grow from linear to non-linear as the learner's competency level is increasing. A typical example of this approach is a coding platform, where the user follows a linear learning path in the beginning in order to understand the basic key concepts. Once a certain competency level is achieved, the learner can use his/her programming skills to develop their own games or applications. At this point, the linear approach has transformed into a project-based, explorative approach where the learner is setting his/her own goals for learning and deciding how to achieve those goals. 

Indications of Non-linear approach are:

  • The solution promotes free exploration of tools and/or content.

  • The solution provides infinite learning outcomes.

  • Learners' progress varies in time and order.

  • The solution provides an unlimited learning process.

  • Learning outcomes have a random effect.

  • The solution allows learners to decide what to learn and how to learn. 

Screenshot 2021-11-29 at 14.42.30.png