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Reflective Teaching

Writing about teaching theology and religion

Book Review

 Integrating Pedagogy and Technology: Improving Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
James A. Bernauer and Lawrence A. Tomei
New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015 (xi + 148 pages, ISBN 978-1-4758-0928-2,
$30.00)

If your school is in the process of transitioning to online learning, Integrating Pedagogy and Technology may be the only book you need – it certainly should be one of the first you read. Bernauer and Tomei’s work is brimming with very useful information for schools in transition. The authors have devised what they call an “Integrated Readiness Matrix” (IRM) to assist institutions both in discerning how ready their faculty may be for this change and in moving them toward greater technological and pedagogical proficiency. “The goal of the IRM and this textbook is simple: move higher education faculty incrementally from lower left quadrants to more advanced upper right quadrants” (80).

Considering how best to integrate technology into instruction “requires all faculty to be conversant with the theories of learning, the taxonomies and domains of learning, a new methodology for preparing and developing college faculty for a career of classroom teaching” (vii). The book includes a chapter on educational psychology, exploring the unique features of five pedagogies: behaviorism, cognitivism, humanism, constructivism, and connectivism. It builds to address taxonomies of learning, pedagogical skills and competencies, and technological skills and competencies. The lists of competencies and learning objectives for faculty development in chapters eight and nine are worth going over with faculty even by themselves.

The authors, from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, model educational theory, using advance organizers at the beginning of each chapter, for example. Chapters may end with review sections, indices of concepts addressed in particularly complex chapters, suggested readings, and so forth. The preface introduces preconditions for using the Integrated Readiness Matrix, which is considered “sufficiently valid and reliable to serve as a basis for faculty self-assessment and professional faculty development,” to determine where each faculty member’s pedagogical and technological skills need bolstering (vii).

Another strength of this book is its applicability to various kinds of learners and institutional contexts. This material is valuable whether you are teaching undergraduates, graduate students, or other adult learners. Your field does not matter; this is not one of those texts where everything must be translated in order to be useful to theological or religious-studies faculty. Reflective teachers and institutional administrators concerned about how to develop faculty competencies will both find appropriate and important resources here.

Many institutions of higher learning are already in the process of transitioning to more online offerings. But this often happens in a haphazard, unorganized way, leaving certain faculty to carry the technological burden for the entire institution. Alternately, online expectations are introduced or imposed, but faculty are not empowered and trained to make the best use of technological tools, or pedagogical considerations do not enter the discussion. This book can be used to assist entire departments in training faculty, generating conversation about the pedagogical sophistication necessary to use technology well, and balancing technological and pedagogical considerations while transitioning to online learning.

Laura K. Simmons
George Fox Seminary

 

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