TELE Synthesis

TELE Synthesis

   Prior to this module, TELEs were not something I was familiar with…and I have been missing out!  All Technology Enhanced Learning Environments (TELEs) focus on student-centered learning through enrichment and learning by doing. Students are not the passive recipients of information and each of these TELEs aims to motivate students. Technology itself can be motivating, however, these experiences allow students to construct and engage with curriculum material in new and more authentic ways rather than being a “consumer” of technology or via traditional pen and paper. These TELEs are all based on a constructivist theory of learning, valuing the building and integration of new concepts on previous knowledge, and collaborating with others to construct meaning. Utilizing real-life scenarios creates a natural “buy-in” for students – they are motivated and are able to “see” the context of these problems. Creating our own “Jasper Series” of math/science videos depicting “real-life” situations is something I would like to pursue next year with a group of teachers (and students) at my school. The individualized nature of the videos (which would also connecting to ADST – Digital Media) would engage our middle school students and provide cross-curricular opportunities (Language Arts, Math, possibly science or SS depending on the storyline). There are so many possibilities. I am curious to see how TELEs support our struggling math and/or science students. Have they (TELEs’ visuals, hands-on, scaffolding, etc) been successful in the past? What about our students who lack motivation? This is something I would like to further investigate.


   Overall, I can see benefits of using each of these platforms in the science and/or math classroom. Implementation of these TELEs would depend on a number of factors including teacher comfort (learning the technology, mindshift in thinking about knowledge acquisition), time (there is never enough, using TELEs instead of something else, time to learn these platforms), and the physical technology available (sharing the limited resources in the school). These platforms would provide opportunities for students to use technology to visually represent traditionally abstract concepts, and to manipulate data that may not normally be accessible in a science or math classroom. What an exciting time to be a student! The role of the teacher is one of guide/facilitator as opposed to “keeper of all knowledge”. However, allowing students to construct their knowledge as opposed to to just giving them the information is something that will be a challenge for some educators. In all TELEs, I believe that teachers need to create the technology enhanced learning “experience” with their students in mind. As I do not have my own classroom next year, my role will be to support teachers as they continue to implement inquiry learning in their classrooms. I am excited to bring my new knowledge of TELEs (even their existence!) to add to our teachers’ toolkit and I look forward to seeing what new learning opportunities and experiences we can create for our students in math/science.



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

Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(3). 355-385.

Williams, M. & Linn, M. C.(2002) WISE Inquiry in Fifth Grade Biology. Research in Science Education, 32(4), 415-436.


  1. Hi Natalie,

    Thanks for summarizing key aspects with how TELEs incorporate constructivism in learning. I’m excited to see what comes of creating your own ‘Jasper series’, firstly updating to modern technology platforms and secondly providing natural buy-in for students to learn by doing. As per how technologies have been successful in the past, I feel we can fall back onto developing courses iteratively by trial-and-error. Effectiveness of digital media varies with social context and implementation factors like time and resource availability as you mention. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with building off what others have done, but ultimately you collaboratively have full control over how you want to teach. I wonder about how technologies can be incorporated with less ‘visual’ content, but certainly a great time to be a student, and teacher!


  2. Hi Natalie

    I like the fact that you mentioned that “TELEs are all based on a constructivist theory of learning”.

    I wonder if other learning theories could be incorporated into TELEs?

    A good next step might be to investigate other teaching tools that we “have been missing out”. When I leave a ProD experience or read an article…I think that would be great to incorporate into my class…but there is not enough time. Is there something you wish to try in your class…but have had not enough time to incorporate it?


    1. I do wish to try the T-GEM TELE with some of the Grade 8 classes next as well as help design a “JASPER” style experience with our grade six pod (group of 12 grade 6 classes). As I move into admin, I will not have my own classroom, but have already spoken to many colleagues and they are interested in trying these TELEs out in their classrooms next year. We are fortunate to have some collaboration time where we could work together on these TELEs I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.

  3. Natalie,
    I really like you comparison chart, a great way to quickly look at and appreciate the differences between the different theories. Like you I like how each of them support a constructionist classroom and I don’t think you could go wrong implementing any of them in today’s classrooms.

    As I ponder this scenario it feels like the age old question which came first the chicken or the egg. I wonder if exposing and training teachers on these options we have learned about this semester, encourage ownership and desire to use and their requests will drive the purchasing and support of the technology or if we need the technology and support to give us the willingness and ability to explore and discover these experiences and be able to bring them into our classrooms.

    It would be interesting to chat with you in a year and see, very unscientifically, how you felt it was going in your school. It sounds like you have the time to support, maybe a little jealous, where our district is going with if we give them the technology its use will grow. I wonder where we both will be this time next year in our journey?

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