Apr 172011

Pedagogy: Critical Pedagogy

Pedagogy: Posted by Gerry White on 14 Apr 2011

Pedagogy: When technology for use in classroom learning programs and professional learning are discussed, the term ICT is often used. ICT refers to ‘information and communications technology’ and usually denotes the mainstream uses of the Internet and one of its services, the World Wide Web. ICT conjures up images of computers, connected services, networks and people sharing information. However, there are many other digital technologies that can operate independently of networks and can be used very successfully for learning. Take digital cameras and videos, for example.

Late in 2010, DERN was privileged to receive a copy of a research document titled Critical documentary making: An action research to develop pedagogy for the 21st century. This research is refreshing because it is about documentary film making as a pedagogy utilising readily available technologies with which students and teachers are mostly familiar

The researcher involved two classes in two schools – an international primary school class and a secondary hospital school class – each in a series of four workshops. The workshops focussed on  making documentary films on topics associated with curriculum priorities. Critical documentary making developed a ‘theoretical framework and pedagogic principles to guide critical documentary making activities in schools’ (p. ii). The basis for the framework included critical pedagogy, collaborative learning, peer tutoring and participatory documentary. Also identified were pedagogical principles such as ‘pupil-centred; conscientising (sic), action driven, and reflective; collaborative; dialogical; empowering; accessible; and integrated’ (p. ii).

The rapid proliferation of digital technologies such as digital cameras and videos, and the growth of Internet services like YouTube for sharing videos have changed the dominance of adults in film-making which is now accessible to young people. Rather than a negative focus on the dangers and fears of using digital video, this fascinating research clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of using documentary film making as a pedagogy across the curriculum.

‘Documentaries address issues of social concern and activate “our social awareness … [and] our social consciousness,” and have been used since the 1920s as a means to “promote a sense of participatory citizenship” ‘ (p. 8), asserts the research. It goes on to suggest that, ‘The process of making a documentary incorporates elements of problem based learning, such as collaborative problem solving and reflecting on experiences, challenging open ended problems related to content and the documentary process, and meaning making rather than collecting facts’ (p.8). If that is the case, and the research, Critical documentary making, certainly asserts that it is, then documentary film making can be a powerful teaching pedagogy.

‘Digital media provide flexible tools for producing creative materials’ (p. 9) and can also be shared with a global audience using the Internet, DVDs, mobile devices, digital radio and email. Although during the workshops some students expressed fears about appearing in the videos, they were able to use alternative formats such as photographs, texts, audio and the like. The use of the digital video devices allowed students to participate and to contribute at their own levels of confidence.

What attracted DERN to this research were a number of features, especially the main findings, the concentration on sound pedagogical principles and the focus on creativity. The findings included motivation of students, closing of ICT competency gaps, awareness of social inequities, utilisation of knowledge and skills learnt outside the classroom, a capacity to articulate views visually, an exploration of student identities, transferable skills and an integration with the school curricula (p. 94).

This well written research highlights the capacity for educators to effectively harness digital graphics/videos, with which students are becoming very familiar, for learning. Such pedagogies are a rich addition to the traditional methodology repertoire of teachers and a clear demonstration of how learning can become part of the digital world.


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