Learning Design Basics: Bifurcating Pedagogical Content Knowledge

In my last post, I reflected on pedagogical content knowledge and appreciated the critical role it plays in contributing to sound learning design. I use the term pedagogy to mean instructional methods and not (just) those of teaching connected with education. By that reason, I mean it to encompass andragogy too.

Now, digging a bit deeper…

There are two sides to pedagogical content knowledge… ‘content expertise’ and ‘pedagogical expertise’. That is, what the course (or, the learning experience) is going to convey is as important as how it is going to convey it. The what – that is, content – belongs to the SME (subject matter expert). And, the how – that is, pedagogy – belongs to the learning designer.

Which means, I as a learning designer should make a conscious choice at this intersection.

Bifurcation of pedagogical content knowledge!

My conscious choice would be to take the ‘pedagogical expertise’ route and not the ‘content expertise’ route.

Because, interestingly, this is where the mix-up happens. I start inadvertently channeling my energies on the content thereby losing sight of my profile (which is instructional thinking). Of course the content is important, because that’s what feeds my pedagogical expertise and therefore deserves my full attention.

But, it’s a thin line separating my looking at content as a means to the end and my viewing it as the end itself. I cross the line, then the entire equation changes pushing my expertise out of focus, bringing to the forefront elements such as language edits, parallelism and stuff like that. Not that these are negligible… they are quite critical to the course looking perfect, but yeah… they’ve their place in the scheme of things.

Back to the ‘pedagogical expertise’ route… how do I proceed to get that understanding right?

Eagerly looking forward to exploring more in the next post.


The earlier posts connected to this topic are here:

  1. Learning Design Basics: Introduction
  2. Learning Design Basics: Definition, the take-off point!


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