Features and qualities important to pedagogical models

I have long had an interest in pedagogical and instructional design models and the elements of them I have looked for, as evidence of their quality, has been guided by these questions:

  • Does the model provide adequate scaffolding for a learning experience?
  • What is considered most important, content or pedagogy?
  • Are students’ getting the opportunity to demonstrate higher-order thinking skills?
  • Is ICT considered as a supporting tool in the process and experience of teaching and learning?
  • Is there room for flexibility, adaptability and differentiation?
  • Is there room for student self-regulation to be facilitated and encouraged?
Photo by David Jones, from Flickr.com, Some rights reserved

Photo by David Jones, from Flickr.com, Some rights reserved

When I consider pedagogical models, I consider all of these and more, often thinking of the NSW Quality Teaching Model.  As a leader in technology integration in teaching and learning, I never consider pedagogical models without considering how it scaffolds ICT integration.  Technology is still such a gimmick and there is still somewhat of a novelty to its use within the classroom, however, it is not always integrated with solid instructional design as its foundation.  That is why my interest has been in models of pedagogical design and instruction that help provide that foundation that both encourages ICT integration and enables it in a smooth and undertaking way.  My most frequently referred to pedagogical models are: TPACK, ADDIE model, the NSW Quality Teaching model, Bloom’s taxonomy, inquiry-based learning model and problem- or project-based learning models.  I find each of these great foundational models for integrating ICT into pedagogy, for reasons outlined below.

TPACK – This model is comprehensive at outlining the connections between pedagogy and technology, between pedagogy and content, and between content and technology, as well as all three intertwined.  It places content as the most important element in this pedagogical model and seeks to establish solid foundation in content and activities before technology interferes.  Technology is seen as the supporting actor, the tool to enhance outcomes further.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – This model does not make suggestions as to how technology should be implemented in the model’s original format, however, the verbs offered in the model, suggest active ways that technology can be utilised.  Students can create, analyse, synthesise and discover new knowledge with technology.

Inquiry-based learning model – This model has stages for creation and for discovery or investigation as well.  Much can be discovered and investigated with resources available on the Internet.  Reflection and discussion are also important features of Inquiry-based learning and can be facilitated through the integration of technology as well.

Problem-based learning model – A model that allows students room to self-regulate their learning and to utilise a number of technologies to assist them in solving a problem or developing a product.  PBL connects students with real-world problems and audiences and leaves room for differentiation and flexibility as well. 

Photo by Alec Couros on Flickr.com Some rights reserved

Photo by Alec Couros on Flickr.com Some rights reserved

In the 21st century, students need to develop a certain set of skills: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and information fluency (Dede, 2010).  We are said to be in the age of knowledge, the knowledge society, and this requires the development of “1. knowledge construction, 2. adaptability, 3. finding, organising and retrieving information, 4. information management, 5. critical thinking and 6. team work” (Anderson, 2008 in Voogt & Roblin, 2010, p. 1).  Pedagogical models of the 21st century need to include these skills and need to integrate the mode in which 21st century learners most frequently learn and engage with new knowledge and information, which is technology.  I think some pedagogical models cater well for that explicitly and some may only provide a shel from which to interpret the nature of ICT integration.



Dede, C. (2010). Comparing frameworks for 21st century skills. 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn, 51-76.

Voogt, J., Roblin, N. P. (2010). 21st century skills. Discussienota. Zoetermeer: The Netherlands: Kennisnet.


Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition – Going deeper with technology

Another area of learning technologies that I am very passionate about and would like to see more prevalent and competently integrated in all educational contexts is the second fast trend identified in the K-12 Edition of the Horizon Report 2014, which examines the growing emphasis on deeper approaches to learning.  These approaches can include, but are not limited to: project-based learning; problem-based learning; inquiry-based learning; challenge-based learning; and, other active learning experiences.  I have observed that most educational institutes will utilise one of these methods, but will be of the mindset that one approach is enough, or it is all that is possible.  However, I believe elements of each approach can and should inform planning and preparation for teaching and learning experiences.  Many of the approaches overlap in their elements and overall intent, however, there may be some differences in the practical aspects of implementation.  The report says that deeper learning approaches can be defined as:

“… the delivery of of rich core content in innovative ways that allow them to learn and then apply what they have learned.” (p. 8)*

This is not only the definition of deeper learning approaches, but in my opinion, this is how all teaching and learning experiences should be.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjuM88N28DY]

Deeper learning approaches appear to be fundamentally about facilitating learning experiences that lead to practical application and real-world relevance.  However, the problem is that much of the syllabus and curriculum requirements dictate large volumes of content that teachers need to cover and they feel that it is not feasible to cover it any other way than through traditional methods more often than not.  The time needed to plan and implement deeper learning approaches is most likely the biggest deterrent to its increased uptake but there may also be the issue of lack in professional development and the clear understanding of what it is and how to implement it within the classroom context.

Whilst it is encouraging to read in the report that policies are being developed that will embed these deeper learning approaches into education more, what will it take to have it more universally implemented in national curriculum?  Another aspect of deep learning that was also raised in the report was that of competency-based learning.  Universities often outline graduate capabilities that students should be able to demonstrate at the completion of their degree, and syllabus documents outline learning outcomes that students should be able to demonstrate in primary and secondary education.  However, the report raises the question of students receiving credit for each competency achieved.  I am of the mindset that students should be rewarded/recognised for all new knowledge and skills and sometimes assessments only assess knowledge.  Of course skills are tested in different ways but if it is a skills that is developed in a cross-curricula context, should there be some way for students to receive credit and/or recognition for their achievement that goes above the other curriculum outcomes?  I will be interested to find out if there are schools that implement models that achieve such for their students.


So how is this achieved and facilitated by technology?  Well, if we go back to that definition of rich core content, that is presented in innovative ways and facilitates learning and application, technology plays a very important role.  In the 21st century, technology provides both students and educators have access to rich core content in the form of video, infographics, and other digital media.  These options are providing multiple ways for each learner to access core content in ways that not only suit their individual learning styles, but also in a way that is creative and often very innovative.  Teachers need to be curators of rich core content and creators as well, that is an essential role for a 21st century educator.

TEC-VARIETY in PD: Motivating Staff to Learn

It occurred to me late last night that my constant search for a model and way to motivate and deliver training sessions to all my colleagues could be informed by this instructional model.  The TEC-VARIETY model is one that is designed to inform decisions in the planning process that will help develop and increase participant motivation.  It was designed predominantly for the context of an online classroom, however, I believe it to be completely relevant for the face-to-face context as well and even for the professional development context in which staff engage.

License Attribution Share Alike Some rights reserved by jenhegna1 on Flickr

Tone and climate is all about establishing the right environment and learning culture for the individuals involved.  In staff development, I’ve found that this is about valuing the time that staff are giving to professional development and showing that I value every input they have into what happens in the training sessions.  Its also about acknowledging the differences in every KLA and the teaching and learning activities used by KLAs to achieve best student outcomes.  Tone and climate is about validating the amazing work colleagues do, and that I believe will build a great foundation for a positive professional learning environment.

Teachers are regularly giving formal and informal feedback to their students but giving staff feedback on their own professional development may also be very valuable to them.   I don’t want to ever do it in a patronising way but if I see a colleague demonstrating new knowledge and skills in integrating ICT within their teaching I want to acknowledge that an encourage them.  I also would pass along any feedback for ensuring a lesson went smoother next time if it had any hiccups.  I don’t always get the opportunity to observe these lessons but I try to and its always a valuable learning experience for all.

Motivating teacher is hard, they are sometimes so stuck in the routine of their day to day duties that anything beyond that is just not priority so motivating them to further develop themselves professionally is a tall ask.   Some schools have a policy that informs staff of PD expectations but it shouldn’t be forced, it should be something staff see as intrinsically valuable and very rewarding for them, necessary to maintain standards in their own teaching.  Curiosity might be hard to inspire in teachers but a short teaser video clip or a student sample of work might be enough to build curiosity and prompt staff to seek further learning.

License Attribution Some rights reserved by krossbow on Flickr

Variety is key in anything and even more so in PD activities.  I am constantly trying to think of new ways to teach technology to teachers and facilitate the development of new skills creatively.   PD sessions can’t simply be me talking at a group of people and then getting them to complete a task to demonstrate they have reached a desired outcome, any more so than when we as teachers teach a class of students.  Sometimes it might be a good idea if I got another colleague to run a session, or if the session was more of an immersive experience or role play rather than a more traditional ‘chalk and talk’/teacher-centred model.  Game-based learning ideas could really be the key to taking PD to the next level of fun, engaging and motivating.

Autonomy is an easy one but one I do struggle with I’ve realised.  Colleagues do not need to be treated like students and/or dictated to about what they should do and how.  I make the mistake sometimes of thinking that the way I believe it should be done would be best but in reality it may not be.  I need to be flexible and provide multiple opportunities and ideas for staff to facilitate the integration of new technologies in their classrooms.

I never encourage staff to use new technology for the sake of using it but to make learning experiences for students meaningful, authentic and interesting.  This is what makes the lesson relevant.  If I base my IT training sessions on the authentic experiences of my colleagues and their subject matter and contexts, I will be able to ensure that the learning is relevant for my colleagues.

Our school is one that does a lot of work using project-based learning and collaborative learning is a big focus of our teaching.  Having recently done more PBL training at the PBL World conference, I can see the values more than ever of using some of the scaffolds and activities involved in PBL within the professional development sessions that I facilitate.  The IT meeting groups I currently have allow me the perfect opportunity to facilitate collaborative learning.

Bonk and Khoo (2012) have put effort, involvement and investment under the concept of engagement but for me I’d like to add in my own definition, and thats ‘buy in’.  This relates to investment I guess but what I don’t know how to encourage colleagues to do that unless I do that.  I have to be completely invested in what I am encouraging my colleagues to do in order for them to feel that they can buy into the same.  I have to put the effort into integrating new technology if I want other colleagues to do the same.

Tension is my favourite concept in this model and one I seem to be able to accomplish this in my training sessions without any problems at all.  All I need to do is throw out a really controversial or problematic idea of how a technology could be integrated within the classroom and an intense discussion ensues.  I could probably achieve the same too if I intentionally threw out a scenario or lesson plan for a lesson that integrates a new technology and that would lead to similar discussion.  It can be very thought-provoking, and I find it to be quite productive, to have such discussions around lesson ideas.

Finally, and very importantly, yields are as significant to staff in PD as they are to students in classes.  All learning should be goal driven and have an end achievement in mind.  I need to be more explicit about the intended outcomes I have for IT training sessions and when it is a whole-staff session I am very intentional about identifying outcomes for the session but I should do it also for the smaller sessions.  Further to that, however, I should give staff the success criteria for what they should see and be able to do individually but also what they should see in the classroom to know that they successfully integrated the technology in a lesson.

These are all preliminary ideas but I’m keen to reflect on them more and develop the ideas further into something I could use more at school.

PBL World (Australia) – Day 2

PBL World (Australia) – Day 2

Today’s keynote was from Glen O’Grady of the Republic Polytechnic in Singapore.  He had some great thoughts to share on PBL but particularly raised the issue of research and the validity and successfulness of PBL.  He had a lot of evidence for the value of PBL but as many will testify, the proof is in the pudding of student work.  There were many other great points that came out of the presentation too.

  1. Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods – incls research t.co/YNK4bbyq75 #pblaustralia
  2. Does pbl work? how do you define work and what is the criteria used to judge. Maybe look at the end product-students #pblaustralia
  3. “Problems need to be iterative in one problem, one day” Glen O’Grady #pblaustralia
  4. Glen O’Grady is presenting interesting ideas about liquid learning, fast & slow knowledge at #pblaustralia today at Parramatta Marist
  5. Theme of students WANTING to be their best, we just need to allow them. PBL Structures support student doing their best. #pblaustralia
  6. “PBL is just the manifestation of certain principles about learning.” Glen O’Grady #pblaustralia
  7. No longer about just the amount of knowledge, but the velocity of knowledge- O’Grady #pblaustralia
  8. The John Hattie researched pegged immediacy of feedback as powerful. #pblaustralia
  9. “Habits are developed by regular, interactive actions over a an extended period of time.” Glen O’Grady ANU #PBLaustralia Keep PBL regular!
  10. #pblaustralia teachers don’t tell they ask ?’s for students to develop their own strategies and be more self-directed
  11. “The enemy of innovation is perfection” Glen O’Grady. I’m a perfectionist but cannot I be an effective innovator too? #pblaustralia
  12. PBL forces us to come to terms and deal with the issues our students are facing so we can really teach #pblaustralia
  13. “PBL is philosophy… Not just method… How ppl should learn and classrooms operate and needs to b examined” Glen O’Grady #pblaustralia

And some of our questions were clarified too…

  1. An alternate word for problem is hook. What can we do to make learning intrinsic to the learner #pblaustralia
  2. Checklists are for quantity. Rubrics are for quality #pblaustralia

More great resources were also shared…

  1. I’ve got a prototype taxonomy of 4 elements for innovation – t.co/iL5SdR6Wro #pblaustralia not just edu but any field at all

PBL World (Australia) – Day 1

PBL World (Australia) – Day 1
Questions to ask in PBL
So many questions came out of today and like the start of every PBL project, there is many questions that we need to know the answers to in order to complete our project.  In this case our project is to learn about and plan effective PBL projects.

  1. #pblaustralia Is your project a MAIN course or a DESSERT? Can we ‘renovate’ our dessert projects 2 b more encompassing of the curriculum
  2. ‘Who in the adult world would need to know this content and how would they use it?’ Thanks @OlaDoctorGina !!! #pblaustralia
  3. How much should we as teachers monitor the work students are going? Management of work. #pblaustralia
  4. How can you create buy-in for students to hook them into the project? Build their motivation? #pblaustralia
  5. “Who am I and what do I contribute to the world” PBL philosophy #pblaustralia
  6. Stimulus resources vs stimulus experiences to prompt further inquiry… Which is more appropriate? #pblaustralia
  7. What real world topic should your class tackle? Students deciding = engagement, passion, & ownership! #pblchat #pblaustralia #PBLStyleChat
  8. What essential questions do students need to be able to answer before answering the driving question #pblaustralia
  9. Is the new innovation missing? We usually start with renovation, making incremental changes. #pblaustralia

Great take aways

For me there have already been some great take away statements and resources that will help me a lot in planning PBL but also in helping my colleagues do PBL as well.  Here are some below.

  1. Best take away… “You do not know what your students can do” @gregwhitby #pblaustralia I love giving students scope to demonstrate this
  2. Cross-KLA planning for new teaching and learning programs… Luv it! #pblaustralia
  3. Good PBL: Plan collaboratively. Spark student interest. Exhibit student work for the public #pblaustralia
  4. “A common intellectual mission…” #pblaustralia
  5. “Standardisation…the death of innovation” Luv it! #pblaustralia Larry Rosenstock
  6. “Uncovering material not just covering material” Larry Rosenstock #pblaustralia
  7. @Pblaustralia Larry Rosenstock giving us gold…produce, keep it simple, all students & adults learn, uncover not just cover #PBLAustralia
  8. Do the higher order all the time and lower order takes care of itself. Production takes care of consumption #pblaustralia
  9. Do the PBL first… Not at the end of ‘Chapter 5’… Begin with the end in mind #pblaustralia

My own project begins

I’m planning a project that will facilitate learning about digital citizenship and responsible online and digital interactivity.  I particularly want this to include implications of the law.  My target group is Year 9 with a product that will target a Year 7 audience eventually.  I’m a little different in that I am not a full time classroom teacher as such but this will definitely be a good project to use with Year 9 in iPlan lessons I hope.

The student we all hope results from these PBL experiences 🙂

Looking forward to PBL Australia

Looking forward to PBL Australia

The first ever PBL conference for Australia I think, at least one of this kind and I’m not yet there but have been watching the tweets. Some conferences I’ve been to have very little backchannel happening in the way of people tweeting but already this one is flooding my tweet feed.

  1. The first ever PBL conference for Australia I think, at least one of this kind and I’m not yet there but have been watching the tweets.  Some conferences I’ve been to have very little backchannel happening in the way of people tweeting but already this one is flooding my tweet feed.  So I thought I’d reflect on some of the great tweets so far and what it says about the essence of PBL.
  2. Larry Rosenstock “I love a project where people are in disbelief that a kid did it” #pblaustralia
  3. PBL is about giving students the scope and freedom to express their learning and understanding in ways we don’t dictate.  It’s then that they go the extra mile and produce work that just shocks us and I love that about projects.
  4. Create more, consume less. Similar/Different to ‘production not consumption’ of #pblaustralia Creation for self & others #workingonit #ethos Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:53:34

Production is so much more higher order than consumption is.  We don’t want our students just processing information in a remember and understand way but we want them to use knowledge to produce and create.

  1. Are our students doing work that has value to them? #pblaustralia
  2. LOVE the idea of taking abstract concepts in history and physically manifesting them #pblaustralia
  3. Changing the subject. Exploring through PBL encourages the curriculum to come to life and engage in the community. #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:34:28
  4. PBL allows us to take the curriculum and make it real life and relevant to students.  We can take concepts and topics in the syllabi and facilitate opportunities for students to use it in their life.
  5. “Develop and defend” – key learning strategy #PBLAustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:56:51
  6. #pblaustralia innovation isn’t tinkering around the edges, it smashing the product and creating an even better product #thought Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:45:04
  7. #pblaustralia Larry Rosenstock. Thank a good teacher. Quality found in collaboration, personalization and engagement Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:51:35
  8. Integrate the world beyond through Fieldwork, Internships and Service Learning! #PBLAustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:31:39
  9. #PBLAustralia technology for production and not consumption Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:43:24
  10. @johnqgoh I’m in 🙂 Flexible teaching, flexible learning, an authentic life #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:40:06
  11. Observation, reflection, public presentation. Another tool for growing constant improvement in education. #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:39:25
  12. #pblaustralia follow passions by embracing different combinations of learning
  13. ‘The purpose of learning in this century is not to learn it but to transform it’ #PBLAustralia #ACUtech Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:30:48
  14. Content is irrelevant. Reacting to the content is. #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:29:20
  15. PBL is learning redesigned and redeveloped to allow students to have a voice, to engage in learning in a way that motivates them and gives them the most relevant outcomes.  It also helps them learn 21st century skills and future career-based skills.