Monthly Archives: June 2017

Jasper targets passivity

The Jasper materials respond to passivity in learning working through canned problems towards correct solutions isolated from context. Jasper incorporates video-based instruction providing generative activities and cooperative situations, whose supporting theoretical framework is that of anchored instruction, where teaching is contextualized in problem-rich environments that engage sustained exploration (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992a). While traditional questioning selects important data beforehand, numbers presented during clips might be pertinent, asking learners to differentiate what is meaningful for the problem, categorizing and prioritizing optimal solutions. Rather than isolating content, Jasper components are posed in realistic context to promote independent thinkers that can identify personal issues, moving learners from passive inert knowledge to constructivist exploration of misconceptions. Such problem-based learning enables self-generated information that is better remembered than transmitted knowledge. Unlike Khan Academy, videos can be segmented to make complexity manageable, employing media platform to accommodate poor readers with realistic narratives, enhancing opportunities to develop confidence, generating sub-problems to extend exploration. Video disc format enables controlled access, searching back and freeze-frame, to identify additional relevant data. With multiple rescue solutions possible, students communicate reasoning cooperatively, posing analog problems to master skills in context. Rather than errorless learning, authentic problems offer frameworks to correct preconceptions, whose real-world complexity produces motivation to create inquiry communities for improved interaction.

Specifics from the videos: Trip planning requires multiple considerations of fuel consumption, tank capacity and wind speeds, where headwind definitions are introduced in context using easy numbers for computation. Communication employs reasoning using analogies to change perspectives while describing historical artifacts of real people. Learners consider whether the most popular solution is always the best, which varies between schools and classes given priorities. Considering other variables like expenses, risk and time prompts students to rework plans to iteratively make them better. Solutions pose new ideas for challenges, sifting through information to decide what factors are important.

Groups work through problems on a just-in-time basis, watching videos without knowing what problems need solving, evaluating variables for multiple plans. Moving from stone-age designs to related adventures extends canned problems using what-if questioning (Biswas et al., 2001). Coaches scaffold guided discovery in exploratory setting, varying interaction styles to create learning opportunities, generalizing smart tools between problems. Learning occurs during teaching as well, doing reverse mentoring where tutors learn alongside tutees. When given the possibility for self-explanation, students tend to understand content better while preparing to teach. Differing experiences generate different questions, collaboratively working through multiple paths with conflicting solutions. Rather than viewing learning as fact accumulation, inert associations can be integrated constructively to consider multiple solution possibilities. Students learn through social activity to evaluate alternatives, whose problem-solving space improves performance, employing thinking-aloud during solving process in making cooperative solutions (Vye et al., 1997).


Biswas, G. Schwartz, D. Bransford, J. & The Teachable Agent Group at Vanderbilt (TAG-V) (2001). Technology support for complex problem solving: From SAD environments to AI. In K.D. Forbus and P.J. Feltovich (Eds.)Smart Machines in Education: The Coming Revolution in Education Technology. AAAI/MIT Press, Menlo, Park, CA. [Retrieved October 22, 2012, from:

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Vye, Nancy J.; Goldman, Susan R.; Voss, James F.; Hmelo, Cindy; Williams, Susan (1997). Complex mathematical problem solving by individuals and dyads. Cognition and Instruction, 15(4), 435-450.

Anchored Instruction…Where Did it Go?

The Jasper series were specifically made to address the issue the NCTM recommended be changed; questions needed to be more open-ended and span across many subjects. The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a) made the Jasper scenarios/videos based around the theory of anchored instruction. Anchored instruction was introducing realistic and problem-based situations for students to solve during mathematics (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992b).

I believe the Jasper series changed the way mathematics was taught in the classroom. No longer did mathematics need to be taught using strictly rote memorization or problems from a textbook. The inclusion of technology and problem-based learning made for a dynamic and community based approach to the educational setting. Students, as demonstrated in the Jasper articles, were clearly engaged with the problem and were able to come to their own conclusions after much deliberation with their group members in an “active instead of passive learning environment” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992a, p.475).

Recently, math instruction and support materials such as Khan Academy are similarly trying to engage students using TELE’s. I took a look at the programs listed, some of which I’d never heard of, and most of the programs are geared towards individual participation and growth. I do not believe that they can be considered examples of anchored instruction or, as Shyu (2000) mentions, situated learning. While the programs utilize technology to share mathematical problems, they are not inquiry based nor are they student-centered. I believe the CTGV (1992) did a great job at including technology in a meaningful way. While Khan Academy and the other programs absolutely have merit, they are not encouraging students to work together to solve real-life problems.


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992b). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program, description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.

Shyu, H. Y. C. (2000). Using video‐based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.

Problem Solving the the New Curriculum

I was extremely intrigued by this week’s focus on the Jasper Project and early Anchored Instruction TELEs.

The perceived issue the Jasper Project was trying to address was the shift in math instruction from traditional teacher-directed content teaching (without context), to problem solving and the meaningful construction and application of knowledge by students to, and within, realistic and complex situations.

I agree with this shift in focus and believe that the Jasper project was on the right track to addressing this issue. Jasper’s engaging videos (though now a bit dated) were an interesting starting point to address this. The videos gave students context and the ability to visualize often times difficult to understand information and actively apply this information within a variety of scenarios. The “Adventures of Jasper Woodbury – Rescue at Boone’s Meadow” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992) challenged student to utilize knowledge in science and math and apply this knowledge to plan and execute an eagle rescue. Results from this study and other videodisc-based instruction (Shyu, 2000) have demonstrated a significant improvement in student problem-solving skills, performance, and attitudes toward mathematics.

The new British Columbia curriculum I believe is also addressing this focus; encouraging teachers to look cross-curricular and teach with anchored instruction. Curriculum such as Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies encourage problem-solving, inquiry, and collaboration. Even within Science and Math, an emphasis is placed on real-world context and application. It is no longer acceptable to teach isolated skills or content. “The deep understanding and application of knowledge is at the centre of the new model, as opposed to the memory and recall of facts that previously shaped education around the globe for many decades” (B.C. Ministry of Education, 2017).

While I am not familiar with all of the contemporary videos available for math instruction and support technology, sites such as Khan Academy do not seem to provide anchored instruction like the Jasper Series does. From my recollection, Khan Academy provides tutorials on concepts (how to multiply and divide fractions for example) as opposed to the application of these concepts within complex situations.

Moving forward, I am interested in how current technologies may be utilized to provide anchored instructions in classrooms. What technologies have another teacher’s used? Did you consider them “successful”? (Success as defined by you in you classroom).



British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2017). B.C.’s New Curriculum. Retrieved from

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Series as an Example of Anchored Instruction: Theory, Program Description, and Assessment Data, Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-215.

Shyu, H.Y.C. (2000). Using video-based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(7), 57-69.




My overall understanding about TPACK and PCK is about finding the balance.

Whether it’s finding the balance point between Content Knowledge and Pedagogical Knowledge, or PCK with Technological Knowledge. PCK refers to the finding the best method to teach the content in a way that enhances students’ learning and integrating technology into this creates TPACK.  Like many others also pointed out when using TPACK, innovative teaching methods, keeping current is very important. Using technology effectively in the classroom by knowing which technologies to use for what content can support learning.

I came across this video that explains these models very well.

Technology Shifts

Mishra and Koehler (2006) argue that since technology is continually changing, the nature of TK needs to shift with time as well. Accordingly, technological hardware and applications will undoubtedly change, and perhaps even disappear entirely, within a relatively short span of time. For educators, the ability to learn and adapt to new technologies, in a variety of different teaching and learning contexts, be of paramount importance (Mishra & Koehler, 2006)

One of the ways that online learning frameworks might actually limit the ways that people understand online learning could result from the fact that the framework, or the perspectives and approaches described within, are outdated and reflect technological hardware and practices that have been upgraded or replaced by something new. According to the TPACK framework, teachers require a forward looking, creative, and open minded seeking of technology use, not for its own sake, but for the sake of advancing student learning and understanding. If teachers are going to be successful with integrating technology, they must continue to remain current and willing to alter or reestablish their approaches to teaching and learning with technology.

Technology can be leveraged differently according to changes in context and purpose, and appropriate technology tools must be understood, developed and utilized for educational purposes. Technology and content directly impact each other, and the technological choices made by educators will either enhance or limit the types of content ideas that can be taught, as well as the ways in which students engage with the chosen content. Avoiding the use of technology, simply for the purpose of using technology, becomes a key component here. According to Mishra and Koehler, the TPCK framework provides us with an opportunity to identify and understand what is important and what is not in any discussions of teacher knowledge surrounding using technology for teaching subject matter (2006). Further to this, Shulman (1986) presents the notion of strategic knowledge and the importance of extending understanding beyond principle to the wisdom of practice. By developing strategic understanding, we can extend teacher capacity toward professional judgment and decision making, and this leads to deeper reflective and metacognitive awareness (Shulman 1986).



Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.



The Evolution of PCK in the Classroom

As the integration of technology has emerged, I have found a distinct change in my pedagogical approach with students. One such change has occurred when teaching the concepts of Optics in the grade 8 Science curriculum. The lesson content is to get students to inquire about the question “Why is the sky blue?” and as a basis for our study of optics, to be able to work out over days the concepts of the spectrum, translucency, and refraction. Through developing this lesson at a time when technology was less pervasive in our environment, I experienced great success in this PCK approach.


In recent years, this same approach has been problematic in that students with technology merely search the question and immediately reveal the answer, “Rayleigh Scattering”, with little understanding of the concept they have found. With technology, my approach required a shift to TPCK ideals laid out by Mishra and Koehler (2006). The adjustments to my teaching have had to include “computer technology in a broader social, cultural, or educational context” (Mishra & Koehler 2006). That is, my instruction of this topic requires the class to address why the search engine answer of “Rayleigh Scattering” lends us little meaning until we can find a way to interpret this information in a meaningful and informative way.


With changing times comes the need for educators to adapt and include Technological Pedagogical Knowledge in their instruction. It is important that Mishra and Koehler’s “TPCK framework can be used to design pedagogical strategies” to better adapt to the changing needs of students in the classroom.




Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

TPACK: Putting it all together

Over the course of the MET classes I have taken so far, discussion regarding the TPACK model has been emphasized. At first, I had never really considered how vital this framework is to the design of lessons that aim to integrate technology effectively. Understanding the way each domain intersects is critical; teachers need to be able to blend technology knowledge, pedagogy and content knowledge together. Mishra, and Koehler extend the research of Schulman, to include Technological knowledge, which seeks to understand how technology is used, selected and integrated into curriculum. Going beyond devices, but diving into the quality of content made available through the use of these devices, do both students and teachers achieve results geared towards mastery of 21st century skill development. Technological tools now allow students to explore concepts through hands-on activities that go beyond the printed page, and enhance understanding. As Mishra and Koehler (2006) state, “At the heart of PCK is the manner in which subject matter is transformed for teaching. This occurs when the teacher interprets the subject matter and finds different ways to represent it and make it accessible to learners.” (1021) For me, this is the most exciting part of the framework because it is evidence that best practice, or differentiation is not only possible, but effective for student understanding. Context, as Mishra and Koehler explain, takes into account these differences whether it be student, classroom, or geographic location, must also be taken into consideration. The symbiotic relationship that TPACK provides, is where learning becomes exciting and transformative. Now as I revisit the framework of TPACK in this course, I appreciate the comments of the authors that no one framework fits all, but that it is better than nothing at all, but for me, this framework is one step forward towards best practice in educational technology design.


One example where I see TPACK come to light is through the careful design of the Grade 5 Exhibition, culminating the years students are enrolled in the IB curriculum. This 8 week inquiry-based project asks that students choose an issue of their choice, and spend the next 7 weeks investigating the idea through 8 key concepts. These concepts include form, function, causation, change, perspective, connection, reflection and responsibility. Here, students need scaffolded teacher-directed lessons to introduce effective researching skills, before they embark on individualize, self-guided inquiry. I must have wide content knowledge to help guide the students but also know how each individual student in my class learns best. Having a solid pedagogical foundation is necessary to both motivate and encourage my students to keep going even when things get tough. This is where technology as a tool is implemented because teaching with technology motivates students to show what they know in unique, personalized ways. Some of my students have created stop-motion animation videos which take their guiding questions (framed around the key concepts) and showcase their answers through short, descriptive videos. Exhibition allows for students, alongside teachers to choose the best sources (apps, etc.) to access knowledge, and then transform their knowing and understanding to do great things! This fits nicely with the new BC curriculum model as well. This year, my students collaborated in small groups to research, organize and communicate their learning and shared their inquiry projects through TEDExhibition presentations (similar to a TED talk format). This is definitely one of my favourite units of the year.


Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23. Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

My take on TELE classrooms

From my TELE teaching experience thus far, though it was in second language acquisition, I found that my students really learned a lot from interactive lessons that corresponded with their textbooks. The interactive lessons had digital response cues and textbook work that allowed them to follow along, regardless of whether they were learning individually or as a group/class. Second Language Learning is already really hard, but the most successful lesson pedagogies I found and used were usually related to the practicality of the topics and their presentation. Students learned and retained more from practical useful topics, and topics they could relate to in their own lives.  I would define technologies in TELE’s to be the means to make the connection that isn’t easily achievable in a learning environment. For example, showing a video of a scenario instead of explaining it then asking students to imagine, or getting people to come re-enact the scenario each time.

I think designers of learning experiences often aims to create experiences with technologies that are most popular because then the users would need less “learning time” for the technology and would be able to “dive” into the content quicker.   That’s probably why many learning experiences uses social media applications as a tool for interaction. So if I was to apply what I’ve learned to my own TELE math or science classroom, I would probably choose to use technology(like a computer) to run simulations for science experiments, if materials aren’t readily available. Or use the technology as an access point to math manipulatives that the classroom lacks.



PCK/TPACK were definitely new terms for me. Though my idea of a “good” teacher was one who had both content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge specific to that content, I had never heard of it being described in such a concise manner. Looking at the many physicians that teach, particularly at the clinical level, they are definitely content experts with little or no pedagogical knowledge. Somehow it is presumed that having the content knowledge gives you the ability to teach medicine, which is far from the truth, and I have personally been on the receiving end of this. For example, experienced physicians are able to accomplish tasks in an “unconscious competent” manner. Looking at the diagram below, novice students and residents start at the “unconscious incompetent” stage of this cycle.

Adult learning cycle

They observe an expert accomplish something (such as suturing) and because the expert made it look so easy, presume that it can easily be accomplished. When they are given the opportunity to do the task themselves, they move into the “conscious incompetent” stage, where they begin to understand that it isn’t as easy as it looks and there are a lot of steps that they had not considered upon observation. With repeat practice, reflection, and learning with guidance, they enter the “conscious competent” stage, where they still have to think about each step but can complete the task competently. Clinical teachers facilitate their learners through this cycle, but because many of them are doing tasks in the “unconscious competent” state, sometimes they are unable to identify some of the steps that are automatic for them, and thus are missing the pedagogical knowledge component.

A common procedure that I perform that is difficult to learn is insertion of a device called a TVT. This device is used for the treatment of stress incontinence. It is difficult to learn because it is a relatively blind procedure, with a high bladder injury rate (which increases learner anxiety!) When teaching this procedure, I often break it down into several steps for my residents:
1) Observation – I will have them observe the procedure as I perform it. I will deliberately take my time performing each step, and explain each step as well as the rationale behind my movements.
2) Then I take them over to a pelvic model for simulation (after the observation). Again, I repeat the procedure, performing each step slowly and with explanation. I will also have them slide their hands over mine to feel where I am in relation to the anatomy (because most of it is done blindly).
3) Next, I have the learner verbally repeat the steps while visualizing
4) Then I have them perform the steps, verbalizing each step as perform it (on the model simulator).
5) I will have them repeat this on the model a few times until they are comfortable
6) At the next OR, if this procedure comes up, I will have them verbalized the steps with visualization prior to the case.
7) Finally, I will have them perform the case, while verbalizing each step, and provide guidance as needed. At this point, I gauge their level of comfort and competence and adjust my guidance as needed.

Over the last couple of years that I have been teaching this, I have modified the steps based on the areas that my learners seem to struggle the most. These areas are broken down into smaller steps, with simple instructions so the procedure is easier to understand and perform.


How important is it for teachers to know subject matter content? Pedagogical content? Curriculum content? According to Shulman (1986) and Mishra and Koehler (2006), all three questions raised (known as PCK) play an integral part in teacher education programs. Is one more important than the other? Should teachers focus on pedagogy more as opposed to subject knowledge?  This is where there is a divide between scholars, school districts, teachers and students alike. They should not be separated from one another, but interwoven.

For example, in January of this year, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) had introduced an aptitude test for potential teachers. On Make a future website, it states:

           The multiple choice, timed assessment is called EPI:  Educators Professional Inventory and it covers three domains: teaching skills, attitudinal factors and cognitive ability.  You have 90 minutes to complete the test but on average, it takes about 45 minutes to complete.  The assessment is from the U.S. and occasionally will use educational terms that are not used in Canada.  For example, several questions refer to the Standards which means the key concepts and skills in the curriculum. You may want to have a pen and paper ready before you begin the test.

Apparently, these types of test were conducted for incoming teachers as far back as 1875. Is this how we still measure teacher’s abilities when it comes to subject knowledge, pedagogy and curriculum content? More recently in the United States of America, such tests don’t mention subject content, but more about cultural awareness, management, assessment, educational policies and procedures (Shulman, 1986). At the heart of PCK is the way in which subject matter is transformed for teaching.  This happens when teachers interpret the subject matter and finds alternative ways to showcase it and make it accessible for students (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). With this, comes technology.

Added to the mix is technology, or TCPK. Educators must know how technology relates to content and pedagogy. Working in the 21st century, technology is always one step ahead of the game, with students knowing more about technology than teachers do half the time.  I think it’s extremely important for educators to take it upon themselves. They need to be informed about the importance of not just the subject matter they teach, but the manner in which the subject matter can be changed with technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

An example I will share of teaching a particular concept, is the scientific method. Today was the day where the 2 science classes I teach showcased their science fair projects to other classes. This was the first time I took on 55+ kids in one setting and I couldn’t be happier with their results. What I think worked well, was scaffolding the project of breaking down the steps that are involved in the scientific method week by week. One week, we would just focus on coming up with a testable question, then the next week focus on their hypothesis etc. The students were able to manage their time better this way and I believe this produced better results in their overall project display.


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers college record, 108(6), 1017.

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

Make A Future. Retrieved from: