I just finished reading about signature pedagogies by Shulman (2005). A signature pedagogy is not something that I have considered before so I am going to post some of the quotes that I like, and my response to them.

Erik Erikson observed: “If you wish to understand a culture, study its nurseries” (p.52)

If you wish to understand why a person is the way they are, examine how they were raised. Thus if you wish to understand why a person teaches the way they do, examine how they were taught.

“Signature pedagogies are important precisely because they are pervasive” (p. 54)

The way that a discipline is taught goes far beyond any one faculty or university. Rather the way that knowledge is imparted in a discipline tends to cross all boundaries, whether the boundary is an institution or a geographical area. The rituals & modes of educational instructions is similar within the discipline. Why is this the case? Perhaps it has to do with the way people have been taught in a discipline

“Since faculty members in higher education rarely receive direct preparation to teach, they most often model their own teaching after that which they themselves received” (p. 57)

This actually makes the argument for the role of an educational developer. If you have not received instruction on how to teach, mimicry is a coping strategy. How faculty cope with being in a teaching role when they have never been taught how to teach? They copy by following the signature pedagogies of their profession, by teaching as they were taught. Thus pedagogies develop tremendous inertia in a field. In order for change to happen, an instructor must be aware that there are other ways of imparting information. The role of the educational developer is important for being a coach/advisor/support when  someone recognizes that there are other (better?) ways. It is important for a change facilitator to be present in that nexus otherwise the moment may pass.

One more thought: “Professional action is often characterized by tension between acting in the service of one’s client and acting in a manner that protects the public interest more broadly … Every profession can be characterizes by these inherent tensions, which are never resolved, but which must be managed and balanced with every action” (p.58)

A professional pedagogy must work to balance the tensions, to provide students with the ability to deal with the tensions. Any changes to the way that information is imparted must ultimately be in support of helping professionals cope with this tension. Change must be effective and not just change because it is the current ‘trend’ in education. Instead, does that new way of teaching support the students in their future. The research of a educational developers can really be important here.


Shulman, L.S. (2005) Signature pedagogies in the professions, Daedelus 134 (3) 52 – 59,


Evidence: Summary of Learning Video

Learning Outcomes:

  • Critically assess and evaluate resources for best practice in online learning
  • Consider potential design/implementation opportunities and challenges of emerging technologies
  • Research and identify emerging technologies with educational applications not yet adopted by mainstream education or in early adoption phases

My Summary of learning was designed as a Pecha Kucha. Unfortunately due to the upload size constraints of WordPress, I had to save it as a video. I wanted to express my thoughts and understandings of what I learned in OLTD 509 with imagery and quotes from my cohort as much/most of what I learned came from discussion with them.

Disruptive and sustaining innovation in education is changing how we teach our students. It is important to remember that just because technology is shiny and new we should use it only if it fits with the pedagogy of what we are trying to accomplish. Technology should be used not for technologies sake, but for solid educational reasons. To that end it is important to consider not only the advantages to using emerging technology but also the disadvantages and challenges around it.

The seminar I taught with Charlene & Stephanie (which can be found in this post BYOD seminar) really showed me how powerful it can be when students use their own devices to enhance their own learning. However, most of my students live below the poverty line, not all have or can afford their own device. I cannot make having a device a requirement of the class as that would prevent some students from taking it. The disruptive innovation of BYOD would be a challenge to use in in my teaching practice, despite the opportunities it gives. In comparison, Virtual Labs, which are also an emerging technology, is something that does work with my students. At VIU there are many computer stations for students to use 24 hours a day. Prior to this class, I was using virtual labs. OLTD 509 allowed me to explore the advantages (and disadvantages) of virtual labs. I come away from class understanding why the best practice for lab work is having both physical and virtual labs. I am no longer doing it for convenience but because it is sound educational practice.