The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Pedagogical Invention and the Great “Remote” Experiment: Lessons in Engagement and Directions for Change

Martin Laba, Simon Fraser University - School of Communication (Canada)


Imaginative and consequential pedagogy is often a matter of overcoming the constraints of our very educational contexts. At the post-secondary level, these contexts range from authoritarian, transactional models driven by canonical content and undynamic curricula, to the increasing influence of neoliberal, managerial models of administration, to the enclosures and limitations of the physical context of the university classroom, medieval in its origins. Irrefutably, the pandemic and the move to “remote” delivery under forcible necessity and systemic emergency exacerbated the existing and daunting constraints already challenging pedagogical latitude and creativity. The transition to remote teaching and learning in an abbreviated time frame meant that instructors needed to summon up their most creative teaching resources and apply, revise, experiment, and re-invent pedagogies and pedagogical approaches. In its early phase, remote teaching involved the retrofitting, often inelegant retrofitting, of in-person courses for remote delivery. Of course, remote delivery courses were not strictly speaking “online distance” courses which are designed specifically for online delivery and teaching. The compelling evidence from surveys of national student organizations around the globe demonstrates that students have struggled mightily with the lack of richness and immediacy of synchronous face-to-face teaching and with the awkwardness of and exhaustion with remote platforms. The responses to and lessons around remote teaching in the pandemic have been overwhelmingly and understandably technology/technique in substance and focus. Equally important however are issues of educational philosophy and pedagogical practice that have come into high relief during the remote experiment and that should inform and direct our educational priorities in the future. Simply stated, post-pandemic is a critical and particularly opportune moment for educational revision. How do we activate students to be protagonists in their own education, and by extension, their own civic lives? How do we achieve ethicality, compassion, political engagement, and civic fortitude as foundational priorities in our educational philosophies and practices? If greater degrees of autonomy and the skills of self-direction were critical for remote education (and not universally achieved by any means), how do we elaborate, expand and sustain these values and practices? How do we democratize the notion of “activism” and develop teaching and learning animated and motivated by social change? This paper takes up these questions and details the urgencies and qualities of face-to-face learning as technology, especially in the wake of the pandemic, becomes increasingly, an article of educational faith.

Keywords: pedagogical invention, student autonomy, engagement, post-pandemic, educational revision.


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