Throughout July, the Edmodo blog will feature EdmodoCon 2016 speakers. For our eighth installment, meet Senior Lecturer Craig Blewett, who uses Edmodo to further his research on the search and development of appropriate digital pedagogies. Craig believes it’s time to put an end to copy-paste online approaches and supports “The @ctivated Classroom.” Be sure to register for EdmodoCon to catch Craig’s presentation.
Briefly tell us about yourself. What’s your role and where do you work?
I am a senior lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where I am involved in teaching various technology subjects. In addition to my teaching I am actively involved in researching EdTech and run various EdTech programs.
How did you find Edmodo, and what inspired you to apply to be an EdmodoCon speaker?
Since 2002 I have been involved in a quest to find effective online learning spaces for my students. Since then I experimented with teaching in about 10 different online spaces (OLS, Elgg, Mahara, Ning, Moodle, Elgg, etc.). In 2010 I came across Edmodo. It was the first time that my students truly seemed to enjoy the learning space. They kept comparing it to Facebook. I realised something profound had happened to our students – social media spaces like Facebook had profoundly changed how they learn. This inspired me to undertake my PhD research in Facebook in an attempt to try and understand how the new generation learns in these new digital spaces. Edmodo was the Facebook of learning, and I needed to understand how learning had changed and what Facebook, and by implication Edmodo, had done to how we learn. What I discovered has profoundly changed my approach to teaching, and has resulted in the development of a powerful digital pedagogy that has helped me lift my teaching, and many others, to another level. It was my desire to share my journey and the results of my research that got me to apply to speak at Edmodo. I want to share with other teachers how they can take the power of Edmodo and supercharge how they teach.
Our back to school campaign will revolve thematically around explorers. What kind of explorers do you think your presentation will resonate with most and why?
I would suggest that coming to an understanding of a digital pedagogy is important to all levels – whatever the explorer kind. Many people who are climbers and voyagers and moonwalkers have achieved great things – but could achieve even more with a good pedagogy guiding their approach. However it is most important to the Adventurer – the person starting out, because if they begin with a good approach they will see real rewards.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for teachers and administrators who are just getting started with edtech or blended learning tools?
There are two pieces of key advice. The first is that you need a digital pedagogy. A Great Teacher + A Great Environment <> Great Teaching. The missing element is a Digital Pedagogy. The formula is: (Great Teachers + Great Environment) x Digital Pedagogy = Great Teaching. Make sure you are trained, not just in the technology, but more importantly HOW TO TEACH (pedagogy) with the technology.
Secondly, is the beta principle. We live in a beta world where all software is released in beta. It’s a world where things slowly get better – we don’t expect perfection up front. The same applies to using technology in the classroom. Don’t try and get it all right up front. Try something. It’s OK to fail. Its beta to try and than not try at all 😉
What’s the one thing you hope your audience takes away from your EdmodoCon presentation?
That using Edmodo is not simply about copying our old approaches and pasting them into a new digital space, but rather by being guided by a digital pedagogy we can realise a vista of exciting, unimagined learning opportunities.