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.

Moodling by Design – Design by Moodling

In my research into and consideration of adult learning and andragogy, I came across learning by design (LBD).  This was not necessarily a new idea to me but I did start thinking more about how it applies to teaching and learning in Moodle.  In a nutshell, learning by design is project-based inquiry.  I have trained in the Intel Teach Essentials Online Master Trainers course in project-based learning (PBL) and have studied the inquiry learning model as well but what is the difference in it being termed learning by design?  A number of sites specifically identify learning by design as pertaining to science as well, a project-based inquiry approach to science.  Another thing to consider in its translation into Moodle.

Kolodner et al. (2003) is quoted on EduTech Wiki as saying that the design of LBD:

“ […] has been to use what we know about cognition (see, e.g., Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999) to fashion a educational approach for middle-school science appropriate to deeply learning science concepts and skills and their applicability, in parallel with learning cognitive, social, learning, and communication skills. Our intention was that the approach would lay the foundation, in middle school, for students to be successful thinkers, learners, and decision makers throughout their lives, and especially to help them begin to learn the science they need to know to thrive in the modern world”.

This post from Kendra Shimmell entitled ‘Learning by Design: It’s Not What You Know, But How You Think‘ sums it up for me perfectly.  Learning by design is designing for individual and optimal learning experiences, catering for the different needs of the students, based on how they learn.  It’s helping learners to become more aware of their own learning and to enhance metacognition.  I can relate a great deal to the post in that I often found it hard to learn in the traditional way at school but left to my own devices, I would seek out learning in my own way and succeed more than in class.  Once I got to uni and learned more in educational psychology about how people learned, I harnessed it and my learning has become easier in many ways.

So, what does it look like to cater for individual learning needs in Moodle?  and to integrate inquiry-based learning and project-based learning?  Conditional activities come to mind straight away, as does groups.  If you have not yet experienced these or utilised these in Moodle, make it your mission to take it on!

Groups, if labelled specifically, could define the custom string of activities a learner goes through based on their selection or choice.  For example,  get your students to do the Multiple Intelligences test and then set up groups with the title of each element from the multiple intelligences.  After students have determined what their predominant intelligence is, ask them to enrol in the group of that name.  Those groups can then have tasks specifically designed to cater for that intelligence, and that’s not to say that the tasks can’t be used by another intelligence group but each group will not need to see all of the materials for every other intelligence group either.

Conditional activities can help scaffold and guide the learning experience as well.  Inquiry-based learning and PBL rely a lot of good questioning techniques and scaffolds.  PBL is very methodical and sequential.  Set it out in steps using conditional activities so that students do the tasks required, in the order required.  Also, by setting it out on Moodle like this, you can provide as much or as little help as you wish.  We started PBL tasks in class today at school and we do not plan on giving any answers to questions as we want students to develop minds that inquiry and seek to know and explore for themselves.  If this was set up in Moodle, we could even just mark the role and sit back to observe amazing learning take place.  I would find that extremely exciting!!

Design your learning to take advantage of Moodle and all it offers.  Don’t limit what you do because the online environment doesn’t seem flexible enough.  Create your own flexibility and cater for all differences.  Get to know Moodle better and play around with what is possible.  Stretch the boundaries and go outside the box!  Design your teaching and learning by Moodling 🙂