Mind the gap

I was invited to do a Google Hangout video interview ahead of the Reform Symposium online event last week. I was interviewed by Shelly Terrell about my work, my teaching philosophy, and yes... the new book I'm currently writing.

Minding the gap was one of my key messages in the interview. The sign stencilled onto the platforms in London's underground stations warns of the gap between the edge and the train. My view is that there is also a gap - a perceptual gulf - between what teachers intend and what students expect. It's a form of transactional distance. It takes a number of forms, including language use, acceptable behaviour, approaches to learning, power structures and the inevitable age differential, but the most visible gap is around the perception of how technology can be used in the classroom. Many teachers and students simply don't agree.

I expressed my view in the interview that teachers firstly need to know and acknowledge that this gap exists. Secondly, they need to be aware of the dangers of the gap. And thirdly, they need to be willing to step across the gap, and cross over into a territory to reach out to learners. This is the terrain where students are allowed to use their own devices, and where technology becomes mundane, embedded and virtually invisible in education. Teachers can no longer afford to see technology as 'special' - students certainly don't. Once the spotlight is off the technology, and on to pedagogy, we will realise that learning can be supported in any number of ways. This is not capitulation, it's common sense. So teachers, please mind the gap between your own intentions and your students' expectations, and be prepared to cross over.

Here's the link to the video.

Photo by Juergen Rosskamp on Wikimedia Commons

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Mind the gap by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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