Tag Archives: digital technology

A Meta-Awareness of Instructional Design

arabic language


This week I have been participating in course redesign discussions.. It was extremely interesting because of the nature of the content: it is all in Arabic. It is an Islamic Studies course and when talking with the instructor, we have to talk using the meta-language of education and instructional design.


When I approach English course resources like the syllabus, curriculum, materials, I bring my assumptions about them. For instance, if I know anything about a subject that is based around concepts or themes, I might assume that x, y and z should be the order of content and big ideas, those core concepts of which all else are tied to. But on occasions, my assumption has been wrong. I ask the course instructor and in fact the order and the big ideas might be different. Talking with the Arabic instructor, I had to ask him explicitly and he had to direct his attention to these. I need to ask the right question and make sure of the details to ensure of my recommendations.

Direct and Focused Thinking

To follow on from this, not understanding the language of the content forces me to ask direct questions. If I want to know what the curriculum objectives, I need to ask. If I then want to know in what ways these are met in lessons or which materials support the teaching and learning of these, I’ll need to ask directly. This certainly helps focus the instructor and my thinking on the objectives and how they’re met.

Learning Design

When I read certain ideas of how the teaching and learning might be designed. I of course outline these but at times these need clarification by the instructor as I leave out certain details that I assume are given. When speaking with the Arabic instructor, I was able to approach the course resources with a very clear and open mind. I had to rely on the instructor’s commentary of resources before I could get any impression of them and how the curriculum and learning objectives can be met through them. We were certainly able to focus conversation on the resources and the best teaching and learning to met the objectives.


This was a crucial area of discussion as currently the course has students with laptops but in six months, they’ll have students with iPads coming through. The assessments would work quite well and it was only after talking about instructional design specifics, like the above, that I was able to understand more about the assessments and how the iPad would affect this. We focused on the reports assessment that was used to assess students’ research. Already they had reflection as a component to it but with certain apps, I suggested that the assessment could be formative throughout the term and not just summative at the end. Apps like Evernote tie in with this idea well as students document the learning experience throughout the research process. Not understanding the content because of a language barrier helped me focus my questions and created a meta-awareness of the educational and instructional design features that I needed to talk about.

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Interactive WhiteBoard Professional Development

This is an executive summary of an extensive literature review of the hierarchy of conditions needed for effective Interactive WhiteBoard (IWB) professional development (PD). These conditions need to be addressed in order to facilitate the PD and support the integration of the IWBs into teaching and learning. For the full literature review, please contact Nicholas Yates.

The IWB PD Hierarchy

Unique to the pyramid is the base of situating the P.D. in the context of the integration. Any PD should be situated and school grown. If there is a school need, can the school pool their resources together before seeking outside consultation? If outside help is sought, will this person facilitate school targeted PD specific to the teachers’ IWB needs and not their stock standard cookie cuttings. Any PD should be developmental as once a set of PD objectives have been met, another set will probably rise. Glover and Miller (2009) engaged teachers in cooperative P.D. that requires teachers engage in a cyclical process to investigate, evaluate, and reflect and their hands-on experiences is exactly what’s needed; the sustained process of discovery syncs well with an object that we must actively touch and use.

The next hierarchical step in P.D. is dealing with extrinsic factors that affect teachers and the P.D. The extrinsic deals with things that are external to the teacher but must be met in order to progress towards effectiveness. Making sure there are no technical issues with the equipment or the infrastructure consistently supports IWB use are two main extrinsic factors. Also a lack of time from contractual duties (teaching, marking, etc…) is often reported as another factor against PD and this can hinder the developmental nature of learning the IWB. Assessment might be considered an obstacle of overall progressive change and this is no different here. Technology integration faces the assessment hurdle as innovation rarely syncs with standardised testing. Hew and Brush reported that high stakes assessments force some teachers to revert to old beliefs in lecture style classes being more effective at information transmission. IWBs are an emerging technology and there must be leadership to guide and encourage teachers in their pursuit of PD. Leadership is a cornerstone for further integration as most other extrinsic factors can be reduced with the right leadership.

The next section is another synthesis of the nature of P.D. stemming from the literature. The intrinsic refers to the P.D. targeting a teachers’ cognition in order to effectively integrate the IWB into their pedagogy and classroom whereas the experiential are teacher experiences to compliment the cognitive side. The experiential factors happen in conjunction and thus the positioning in the hierarchy depicts the complimentary, yet slightly subordinate, nature of the experiential. Collaboration and Community of Practice (COP) are two approaches towards experiencing a range of content, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. Through inquiry and reflection, educators can experience the IWB and allow the intrinsic elements to operate.

The intrinsic elements to effective P.D. occupy slightly more of the top of the section as many articles point to teachers’ cognitive filters when integrating IWBs and reflects that once teachers have IWB experiences, they can then cognitively process the experience before integrating it into their teaching repertoire (Lewin, Somekh, & Steadman, 2008). Many have noted that effective PD must challenge teacher beliefs and this is particularly the case with emerging technologies which are often displacing another teaching aid and beliefs associated with this. Teacher knowledge here must also be targeted as the PD must facilitate knowledge production about the IWB in terms of it can relate to their technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. In the end, a litmus test of the PD is whether there is value congruence between the PD’s message of IWB good practice and the educator’s set of values. If there is a synergy, the teacher may slowly integrate the IWB into teaching and learning in their classroom.

The peak represents the ultimate realisation of effective P.D. for IWB integration.  This hypothesis lays the situated context as a foundation and points to experiential factors reflexively influencing with the intrinsic processes; yet in the end, the intrinsic processing of the experiential will lead towards effective P.D., IWB integration. The culmination is more effective teaching and learning through integrating IWBs.



Glover, D., & Miller, D. (2009). Optimising the use of interactive whiteboards: an application of developmental work research (DWR) in the United Kingdom. Professional Development in Education, 35(3), 469-483.

Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2007). Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: Current knowledge gap sand recommentdations for future research. Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(3), 245 – 267.

Lewin, C., Somekh, B., & Steadman, S. (2008). Embedding interactive whiteboards in teaching and learning: The process of change in pedagogic practice. Education and Information Technologies, 13(4), 291-303.


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A Reappropriation of Smart Phones

Singaporean students with a smart phone

Key Features

A Smartphone with Augmented Reality (AR) is predicted to be adopted within education in the near future (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011) and I would predict that it has a very real future. “Augmented reality refers to the addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world, creating a reality that is enhanced or augmented” (Johnson et al., 2011, p. 16). There are two ways to do this:

  1. Using GPS coordinates, the AR software recognises your geo-positioning location , or
  2. Using the camera, the AR software recognises the object and displays a layer of information on the screen. (Johnson et al., 2011)

Layar is a company that makes a Layar Reality Browser that uses the smartphone camera to assist interaction between the user, the smartphone and the AR.

Potential & Recommendation

Some of the following ideas may seem unrealistic for the average teacher but teachers need to, innovate and think creatively pedagogically, rather than technologically, if we are to keep teaching and learning cutting edge. I admit that for these to be implemented, one must create software with a program similar to Layar which requires technical knowledge of AR. However, we must remember that currently, 40% of US mobile devices are smartphones (Kellogg, 2011) and IMS research (2011) expects 1 billion in 2016. Smartphones with AR is for the near future and advances in programming are constant so a program to help the average teacher may be available in the near future.

To support social-constructivist principles, the AR could be used to deliver a highly interactive AR hunt with the environment and cultural artifacts stimulating learning. Similar to AR browsing at the Powerhouse museum, the idea would be to use GPS coordinates to provide information about the environment around the user and the camera to identify specific objects. The teacher would need to nominate objects around the classroom, secondary school, or local area that fit with a cultural element. Students would be interacting with the physical environment and discovering cultural and linguistic information along the way. Follow-up activities are needed to consolidate the AR hunt by promoting dialogue, stimulating reflection, and/or text productions around the linguistic and cultural elements they interacted with (Gould, 2005).

Within this examples, students are actively learning and constructing knowledge based on their AR experiences. The smartphone and AR shouldn’t be considered as the pedagogy, rather the medium of learning. Pedagogy is what happens in reality around the augmented reality and is needed to meet learner needs (Kaufmann, n.d.). But these experiences come with a large price tag attached to the phones and to the preparation required from the teacher. Teachers must not make assumptions that all secondary students will have access to smartphones, nor the digital fluency required to seamlessly move between the AR and the real learning activity. Teachers must be prepared to use smartphones in their classrooms with very careful analysis and be prepared to justify its inclusion to possibly skeptical administrators, parents, colleagues and students.

Gould, J. S. (2005). A Constructivist Perspective on Teaching and Learning in the Language Arts In Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

IMS Research (2011, July 27). Global Smartphones Sales Will Top 420 Million Devices in 2011, According to IMS Research. Retrieved September 9, 2011 from http://imsresearch.com/press-release/Global_Smartphones_Sales_Will_Top_420_Million_Devices_in_2011_Taking_28_Percent_of_all_Handsets_According_to_IMS_Research

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kaufmann, H. (n.d.). Collaborative Augmented Reality in Education. Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.ims.tuwien.ac.at/media/documents/publications/Imagina-AR_EducationPaper.pdf

Kellogg, D. (2011, September 1). 40 Percent of U.S. Mobile Users Own Smartphones. Retrieved September 9, 2011 from  http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/40-percent-of-u-s-mobile-users-own-smartphones-40-percent-are-android/

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