CCK08: Thought on Grainne Conole’s Mapping Model


Grainne Conole's Model

Grainne Conole

I just returned from the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference in Memphis, TN where I attended many excellent sessions and gave one workshop myself on applying technology to biology teaching.  I had a great group of 60 (mostly) secondary school teachers who were enthusiastically interested in applying web 2.0 tools to their teaching.  


In my workshop, we talked about technology use in the classroom (they mostly vented about ‘no time’, ‘no money’, ‘too difficult’) and I gave them an overview of web 2.0 tools and what they (and their students) might/could do with them.  Then we broke into small groups so that they could try their hand at creating a wiki, recording a podcast, and delving into Second Life.  Lots of fun, discussion, and chaos – as any good learning environment should have.  But I did come away with a nagging concern that, ultimately, I had not done enough to give them a road map for continuing on the journey once they left the nurturing space of a conference filled with like-minded individuals.

Fast forward to this morning when I read Grainne Conole‘s article “New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies” from this week’s assigned CCK08 reading.  This one really spoke to me – got me thinking – and I wished I read it before I went down to Memphis!  

Among other things, I really like her 3-dimensional model for mapping technology tools to pedagogical goals (see image above).

This works for me and I think it would have worked well with those 60 enthusiastic teachers in my workshop.  I’m afraid the plethora of clever Web 2.0 tools I rolled out for them must have felt a bit like trying to drink out of a firehose.  But if, next time, I could get them to think about the various learning objectives in their courses in the context of a model like this (and ultimately, to take a look at their course as whole in light of such a model), I suspect it would start making more sense.

So, for instance, rather than just suggest they assign student groups to build a wiki as their group’s output, encourage them to thoughtfully consider the goals of the assignment in relationship to what the tools can do.  Do the content knowledge and desired learning outcomes for the project call for individual or social interactions?  Do they require passive or active learning?  Are they more informational in nature or experiential?  If the learning at hand is all about social and collaboration, then a wiki is indeed a good tool. Have the group work together to build a wiki as the group output – many hands collaborating, whole greater than the sum of its parts.  If the learning at hand is really more about the individual’s reflection, then a wiki is not the best tool for the job.  

And, of course, each of these dimensions is a continuim so a blog could be very far to the “top” on the “individual/social” dimension (if it’s an individual student keeping an online journal) or it could be very far to the “bottom” (if all students in the class are commenting on the blog entries and a good conversation is heating up).

I like this.  But now I have a question for my fellow CCK08 travelers –  what are we shooting for here? Ultimately, what are we encouraging teachers to do?  Do we want to shoot for regular bouncing around on this 3D spectrum, offering some info, some experience; some individual, some social; some passive, some active – so that there is a healthy range and variety in a given course experience?  Or do we instead encourage discovering an optimal coordinate spot on the pedagogical framework for each desired learning outcomes and design student work accordingly?



Filed under CCKO8, Technology Trends

8 responses to “CCK08: Thought on Grainne Conole’s Mapping Model

  1. Hi great you found this interesting and would really like to hear if you apply it more. I also worry about workshops where you feel that somehow you need to get to a deeper level of understanding rather than focusing on the tools which is the easy option!

  2. rheyden

    Yeah…I always feel compelled to try to get the teachers to a deeper place so that the effect of the session/workshop will last. But that’s not always practical.

  3. I wondered if the workshop you gave started something in some of the teachers? You write that “they mostly vented about ‘no time’, ‘no money’, ‘too difficult’”. I imagine your workshop gave them an opportunity (and an invitation) to look at supporting learning differently.

    I believe the issues that you raise are long-term learning engagement issues. Your final question about “an optimal coordinate spot on the pedagogical framework” encouraged me to clarify my thinking about this. I think the spot is dynamic but that each of us has a comfortable place that gives us affordance. Moving from that spot (technological change) is a big decision for teachers and learners. This journey and its map can be transformed if teachers think that even though there is ‘no time’, ‘no money’, it need not be ‘too difficult’. Google maps and geo-tagging have demonstrated that finding places (spots) can be transformed.

    I do hope on reflection you enjoyed the workshop. Your 60 teachers will have been given an opportunity to follow up with the choices they have … and possibly contact you and other teachers to develop a NABT social network in a subject about which they have enormous passion.


  4. jennymackness

    Hi Robin – Like you I have trained lots of teachers in my time and have myself attended lots of training sessions. I would regard doing an IT based session with 60 teachers as quite a feat!

    We have seen from last week’s focus on chaos and complexity that however well we prepare we don’t really know what learners will take away with them. When I attend training sessions myself, I always think that if I learn one thing that will effect a change in my practice or thinking, then the session has been useful. Since I have this view for my own learning, I tend to have the same view for those that I teach. I think training teachers is particularly difficult because the very next day they will be thrown back into the hectic pace of the school and classroom environment and it is so difficult for them to find time to implement what they have been introduced to in a training session.

    Lots of fun, discussion and chaos sounds an ideal session to me! I’m sure they’ll all be trying things out back in school and from little acorns big oak trees grow!

  5. rheyden

    Nicely said, Jenny! And I think that practical mantra (“just one thing that will affect my practice…”) is an excellent one to communicate to teachers in a workshop and to keep in mind ourselves.

  6. rheyden

    I like your idea of a comfortable “spot” (that gives us affordance) on Grainne’s model, Keith. And maybe that’s a good starting point with teachers. As in, find your “comfort spot” and think about how (and when) you might shift off that spot to venture into something new.

  7. Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. I have to agree with you. I made it sound as if all optimal learning takes place in the lower right corner of the mapping model framework. You make a good point in saying that different learning goals are best suited for different quadrants of the framework. I should have said that we need to move more learning to the lower right corner.

  8. rheyden

    Yes, that sounds just right. And, if we talk about learning in those terms, we will probably make teachers who are just now wading into the stream feel more comfortable. Thanks for chiming in!

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