The term “critical digital pedagogy” has been used to describe a broad range of approaches to teaching and learning rooted in critical theory, digital cultural studies, and the liberatory education promoted within schools of critical pedagogy since the 1960s. References to critical digital pedagogy began to appear in published scholarly literature in the early 2000s as a response to the expansion of neoliberal ideologies and policies in an age of proliferating digital and networked technologies. These shifts in technological, economic, and social organization have since become collectively described as the “platformization” of society, driven by processes such as datafication, commodification, and algorithmic selection. In response to concerns about the neoliberalization, dehumanization, and platformization of education specifically, the emergent field of critical digital pedagogy has coalesced into a community of educators, designers, and theorists with an international scope, though the majority of published scholarship originates from the United States and the European Union. While the approaches and methods that the proponents of critical digital pedagogy engage with are varied, three broad families of practice include critical instructional design, humanizing online teaching and learning, and digital ungrading. Following earlier traditions of critical pedagogy, practitioners in the field of critical digital pedagogy find themselves grappling with critiques of their approaches as overly politicized, ideologically driven, and pragmatically limited. Open issues in the field include the expanding role of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the role of political activism beyond the classroom, and the addressing of intersections between race, class, and other dimensions of identity within a critical framework.
Critical Digital Pedagogy in the Platform Society
Earl Aguilera and Christina Salazar
Education Research Beyond Cyborg Subjectivities
Annette Gough and Noel Gough
The term “cyborg,” as a combination of “cybernetics” and “organism,” was coined by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline in 1960 in a paper presented at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conference on space exploration as a representation of a particular challenge of space travel: physically adapting a human body to survive in a hostile environment rather than modifying the environment. Soon after, NASA commissioned “The Cyborg Study” to investigate the theoretical possibilities of incorporating life support–related technologies into future spacecraft design. From the beginning, cyborgs were seen as the realization of a transhumanist goal—liberating humans from the limitations of the body and its environment by means of mechanization. Outside of space exploration, the term “cyborg” has evolved to encompass an expansive mesh of the mythological, metaphorical, and technical. Initially mainly taken up by science fiction writers to create superhumans, the notion entered cultural studies in the 1980s, particularly through Donna Haraway’s feminist “cyborg manifesto,” which argues that we are all cyborgs. Since then, terminology has shifted, and cyborgs are more likely called “posthumans,” “more-than-humans,” “other-than-humans,” or “companion species.” Discussions of cyborg and posthuman subjectivities in educational research have taken two main directions. The first argues that with equipment like tablets, smartphones, and laptops, students and teachers are already cyborgs—hybrids of human and machine—accessing information, resources, networks, groups, personal relations, libraries, and mass media through the Internet. Other research has investigated how the construction of cyborg and posthuman subjectivities changes the relationships between humans and their surroundings, devising new social, ethical, and discursive ways of thinking and representation.
Differentiated Instruction and Inclusive Schooling
Differentiated instruction encompasses a wide range of responsive pedagogies, including individualized types and levels of curricula, teaching methods, materials, and assessment strategies. It has at its roots the impetus for effective inclusive schooling, providing supports directly within general education classrooms for students with the full range of exceptionalities (both significant disabilities and giftedness) and other diverse educational characteristics such as cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic status. To effectively include students with higher levels of need, comparable levels of supports follow the student from the special education setting to the general education classroom. This enriched level of support in the general education classroom benefits not only students with disabilities, but the class as a whole. The legal and ethical bases for inclusive schooling are connected with various civil rights movements (including race, disability, culture and language, gender); it can be viewed as a response to segregated schooling (and denial of schooling altogether). Schools frequently remove students when traditional educational programs fail, adding on separate programs rather than rectifying the existing system. Such special programs have been routinely promulgated without substantial evidence of their effectiveness over supportive general education classrooms (either for segregated students or for their unlabeled general education peers). Important aspects of differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include multilevel instruction; authentic and culturally responsive curricula, methods, and assessment; universal design for learning; assistive and instructional technologies; positive behavioral supports; and a collaborative team approach to instructional decision-making and delivery. Differentiated instruction and effective inclusive schooling are vital for equitable access to educational opportunities, bringing more responsive curricula, methods, and perspectives to increasingly diverse classrooms and schools.
Teachers’ Knowledge for the Digital Age
Margaret L. Niess
The 21st-century entrance of digital media into education has required serious reconsideration of the knowledge teachers need for guiding students’ learning with the enhanced technological affordances. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK or TPACK) describes the interaction of the overlapping regions of technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge that also creates four additional regions (technological pedagogical knowledge, technological content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge). These knowledge regions are situated within a contextual knowledge domain that contains macro, meso, and micro levels for describing the dynamic equilibrium of the reformed teacher knowledge labeled TPCK/TPACK. Teacher educators, researchers, and scholars have been and continue to be challenged with identifying appropriate experiences and programs that develop, assess, and transform teachers’ knowledge for integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) that are also spurring advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) as learning tools in today’s reformed educational environments. Two questions guide this literature review for engaging the active, international scholarship and research directed toward understanding the nature of TPCK/TPACK and efforts guiding the transformation of the teacher’s knowledge called TPCK/TPACK. The first question considers the nature of a teacher’s knowledge for the digital age and how it differs from prior descriptions. Three distinct views of the nature of TPCK/TPACK are explained: the integrative view; the transformative view; and a distinctive view that directs how the primary domains of pedagogy, content, and technology enhance the teacher’s knowledge. The second question explores the research and scholarship recommending strategies for the redesign of teacher education towards developing, assessing, and transforming teachers’ TPCK/TPACK. These strategies recognize the importance of (1) using teacher educators as role models, (2) reflecting on the role of ICT in education, (3) learning how to use technology by design, (4) scaffolding authentic technology experiences, (5) collaborating with peers, and (6) providing continuous feedback. This research further characterizes teacher educators with strong ICT attributes as the gatekeepers for redesigning teacher education programs so that today’s teachers are better prepared to engage in the strategic thinking of when, where, and how to guide students’ learning given the rapid advancements of digital technologies. These cumulative scholarly efforts provide a launchpad for future research toward transforming teachers’ knowledge for teaching with the technological advancements of the digital age.