Author Archives: Kirsten Ocoin

Virtual Reality Alone is NOT Enough…

This week, I chose to focus my attention on the Carraher, Carraher & Schliemann (1985), Spicer & Stratford (2001), and Yoon, Elinich, Wang & Steinmeier (2012) articles.

When I started reading the Carraher et al (1985) article I wondered the relevance it would have to my Grade 1 students who come from a fairly privileged neighborhood. I quickly realized that the young children in the study who were able to determine the price of ten coconuts without the use of paper and pencil and little to no education were a great example of how to teach mathematics. More than ever, educators are starting to veer away from the traditional math worksheets and teach using a variety of hands-on activities with a wide variety of manipulatives. Had these Brazilian students been sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher speak at the front of a classroom about multiplication, would they have understood the concept as clearly? It is evident that hands-on, applicable learning is key in students understanding mathematic concepts as well as being able to apply them to different situations in their lives.

In the Spicer & Stratford (2001) article, they discussed a VR program called Tidepool and polled students on whether or not they believed VR programs such as this could replace actual field trips. In this particular VR program, students could copy and paste, add hyperlinks, pictures and text from the ‘field notebook’ to their own electronic notebook. This allowed students to gather information that they thought was most informative or valuable to them in an easy and accessible manner. This use of technology reminded me of how inquiry based learning can encourage deep and meaningful learning to occur as students are creating their own understandings based on the information that they deem to be useful. While the consensus of the study demonstrated that VR is not as immersive as actual field trips, it is clear that there is some merit to such experiences, especially when actual field trips are not possible. Utilizing programs like National Geographic’s live cams and Discovery Educations virtual field trips allows me to plan my science and mathematics program to ensure that my students are immersed in as much live content as possible. Being able to follow the life of a bald eagle and see its nesting patterns, etc. versus reading about it in a textbook or even on the web is not the same. Being able to view, in real time, live experiences through virtual realty programs is incredibly intriguing to students.

It is clear that with the inclusion of VR/AR activities, scaffolding and collaboration is key in the successful learning and understanding of students. As Yoon et al (2012) pointed out, “scaffolds would promote collaboration within the peer groups by encouraging students to discuss their observations and reflections of their experience”. This statement clearly demonstrates the importance of discussions when utilizing technology. Without collaborative discussions to outline what the students are examining through virtual realties, connections are not being made and the usefulness of these programs declines. Therefore, it is important for educators to purposefully utilize these programs in conjunction with collaborative activities for learning to occur.

All in all, after reading these article and taking time to explore the different websites/activities provided, it is clear that in order for such programs to be successful in the classroom, they must be utilized in conjunction with a clear plan outlined by the educator. Additional activities that delve into the deeper meaning of these programs and what is being viewed are necessary for deep learning to occur.



Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Schliemann, A. D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. British journal of developmental psychology, 3(1), 21-29.

Spicer, J., & Stratford, J. (2001). Student perceptions of a virtual field trip to replace a real field trip. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17, 345-354.

Yoon, S. A., Elinich, K., Wang, J., Steinmeier, C., & Tucker, S. (2012). Using augmented reality and knowledge-building scaffolds to improve learning in a science museum. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(4), 519-541.

Actua: STEM Outreach Program

I came across this awesome Canadian company that organizes STEM outreach programs at your local university. Educators can organize for their classes to be engaged in these programs at the university or can arrange for the program to come to their school. This is run right across the country and would be a wonderful program to make use of. The website also includes various STEM activities for free! Check it out here.

Authentic & Embodied Learning

Wow, were there ever a lot of interesting readings this week! I decided to kill two birds with one stone and choose readings that could inform the TELE that I will be undertaking for my final project. The aim is to use this TELE for my Grade 1 students in September and the readings this week helped me step closer to my goal. For that reason, I chose to read the Winn (2003), Aleahmad & Slotta (2002), & Huang, Lin & Cheng (2010) articles.

The Winn (2003) article focused on the connections between learning, the activities chosen and cognition. Examining the interactions between the learning that occurs and its relativity to the learning environment, via one’s external body is what Winn (2003) refers to as embodiment. Mathematics is a topic that benefits from embodied learning. One way that I have used embodied learning in my classroom is when doing a math unit on measurement and weight. I have filled little-big bags of sand and the children will pass them around. Based on what they feel, they will order them in what they believe to be lightest to heaviest. We then check our answers by utilizing a scale to see if we are correct or not. I have also brought students outside to explore our local community and compare different rocks, tree branches, etc. and categorize them as heavier/lighter. I find that when my students are able to leave the traditional classroom setting and explore their physical environments, the learning is deeper. As Winn (2002) states, “Embeddedness therefore depends on the nature of the interaction of the students with the Umwelt [environment] and how well the Umwelt reflects properties of the environment” (p. 13).

The Aleahmad & Slotta (2002) article examined handheld technology, such as phones, iPads, tablets, etc. and web-based science activities (WISE). Combining the two, the authors argue, makes for a “unique educational opportunity” (p. 2). As I mentioned earlier, I am teaching a Grade 1 class in September and have been trying to find educational technologies that would be age-appropriate for my students. When looking through the WISE archives, I noticed that despite the fact that there is a K-3 category, there are no WISE activities for this age group of students. The Aleahmad & Slotta (2002) article made me think about the use of Virtual Realty and Augmented Reality programs and their usefulness in the classroom. While I have not implemented either into my classroom, the idea leaves me with some questions.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Should WISE activities only being designed and utilized for Grades 3 and up or is it possible to create a WISE that would benefit younger students?
  2. What are some VR/AR that are suited to younger students? Are these two technologies still too young in their development to be used in classrooms?
  3. If students are learning in artificial environments, does authentic learning occur? Do all learning environments have to produce authentic learning?


Aleahmad, T. & Slotta, J. (2002). Integrating handheld Technology and web-based science activities: New educational opportunities. Paper presented at ED-MEDIA 2002 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. Proceedings (14th, Denver, Colorado, June 24-29, 2002); see IR 021 687.

Huang, Y. M., Lin, Y. T., & Cheng, S. C. (2010). Effectiveness of a mobile plant learning system in a science curriculum in Taiwanese elementary education. Computers & Education, 54(1), 47-58.

Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: Embodiment, embeddedness, and dynamic adaptation. Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning, 1(1), 87-114.

TELE Synthesis- A Work in Progress

Hi Everyone,

I have compiled my synthesis of the four main TELE’s using a mind map program called Venngage. Unfortunately, unless I was to upgrade to Premium I cannot add the image to this feed so if you could please follow the link, it’ll bring you to my work.

During this module we examined four different components of TELE’s; Anchored Instruction, WISE/SKI, T-GEM & LFU’s. TELE’s, Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments, provide students with access to creative technologies that showcase new ways of learning information. I personally have learned a great deal and am excited to continue my own personal learning journey by adding to this diagram as I continue to come across different TELE’s.

My take home point to this synthesis of TELE’s is that while there are many different technologically enhanced learning environments that can assist in the construction of knowledge for students, it is important as educators to continue to remember that what we choose as a means of presentation must be meaningful at its core. TELE’s must be purposefully implemented and used for a specific reason and not just for the fact that it is there. With many TELE’s that we have come across in this module, they can overcomplicated student’s understandings of a topic if they are too complex for the age group. As such, educators must be cognizant of this and carefully pick which TELE’s to make use of and which to avoid until the right time/class.


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.

Khan, S. (2010). New pedagogies for teaching with computer simulationsJournal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215-232.

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education56(2), 403-417.

Pellegrino, J.W. & Brophy, S. (2008). From cognitive theory to instructional practice: Technology and the evolution of anchored instruction. In Ifenthaler, Pirney-Dunner, & J.M. Spector (Eds.) Understanding models for learning and instruction, New York: Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 277-303.

Light & Colour

I decided to create a T-GEM cycle on light & colour as this is a challenging concept in primary education for many students. After having conversations with students, it is clear that many still have difficulty explaining how light and colour works, even after full units have been completed.

As such, I have created a T-GEM cycle on light and colour that included the PhET Colour Vision simulator. You can view it by following this link.


Colour Vision. (n.d) Retrieved July 11 2017, from

Khan, Samia (2011).  New pedagogies on teaching science with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology 20, 3 pp. 215-232.

GIS & Inquiry

Edelson (2001) discusses the overwhelming pressure for inquiry to be built into science classrooms. He mentions that one of the pushbacks from educators that are finding inquiry difficult in the modern day classroom is the lack of time. While I can certainly understand that time is precious and not overly plentiful, I think this is where educators need to be especially saavy. Combining curriculum expectations and designing a unit that brings science, math and language together in one unit will help teachers jump the hurdle that is time. Solely dedicated time to science and science alone is not realistic and I can see why some educators are having difficulty with the concept especially when educators are being asked to “teach more content more effectively, [and] devote more time to having students engage in [inquiry] practices” (Edelson, 2001, p. 355). Edelson (2001) continues to say that another problem in schools is the fact that computers are placed in classrooms but educators are not shown how to use them to their benefit.

The same can be said for other technology or programs that are available to educators nowadays. There are endless amounts of programs (including My World GIS, ArcGIS & WISE) that can be used for science inquiry in classrooms but the education to educators is not being provided. Again, this raises the issue of how, or rather when, educators are to teach themselves these programs? Should this be done in their free time or during PD? The Perkins, Hazelton, Erickson & Allan (2010) article discussed a study on GIS systems and how they can be used in classrooms to increase spatial sense in students. They mentioned how the teachers at this particular school where specifically given a day-long workshop, presumably on a Professional Activity Day, to be trained in the Schoolyard Tree Inventory My World GIS curriculum.

This is a true concern for educators and should be taken seriously by boards that are pushing certain expectations, such as more inquiry with technology in classrooms. If boards want certain methods to be used in the classroom, they must back it up with mandatory training for teachers that will allow educators to feel comfortable with the programs so that they can teach students without feeling uneasy about doing so. When specific time is given to educators to learn certain platforms, wonderful learning can exist and therefore be transmitted to the classroom setting for students to be engaged with.

Reading the articles and learning more about GIS helps me to start forming ideas for my final project. Next year I will be teaching Grade 1 and would love to do an inquiry unit on living things that include humans, plants & animals. Utilizing the LFU principles from Edelson (2001),Motivation, Knowledge Construction, and Knowledge Refinement, we could use GIS such as Google Earth to explore different ecosystems in and around our community bringing the outside into our classroom. We could specifically look at an endangered species in our area using GIS-mapped natural heritage areas such as the Dundas Valley, where my school is located. Utilizing GIS will help us to narrow in on where this species is located and help us establish what can be done to protect it.

I would love to utilize the outside on a daily basis, money and time restrictions do not allow for it. That being said, if by utilizing Geographic Information Systems in addition to other technology that would allow for me to bring the outside in, I can engage my students and create relevant learning.



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.

Perkins, N., Hazelton, E., Erickson, J., & Allan, W. (2010). Place-based education and geographic information systems: Enhancing the spatial awareness of middle school students in Maine. Journal of Geography, 109(5), 213-218.


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.

PCK & TPCK- There Is Theory Behind It!

Shulman’s (1986) PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge) theory and Mishra & Koehler’s (2006) more developed TPACK/TPCK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework are two acronyms that I had never heard prior to these articles. Mishra & Koehler (2006) delve into both of these terms and explored, during a five-year period, ways in which technology can be added into a teacher’s educational pedagogy. They suggest, as has been mentioned in previous articles throughout this course, the implementation of technology into a classroom is not sufficient enough to make an educational impact.

Shulman (1987) began his research by comparing the teaching practices of new and experienced educators and recorded the ways in which their pedagogy dictated what was (or was not) taught in their classes

Mishra & Koehler (2006) discuss that in order to obtain a proper understanding of “thoughtful pedagogical use of technology” (p.1017), one must develop Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). They realized that technology was being added into lessons but not pedagogically thought out as to its usefulness for the students. In a quote from the Mishra & Koehler (2006) article, they state, “In other words, merely knowing how to use technology is not the same as knowing how to teach with it” (p. 1033). Educators have to have a purpose for adding/using technology in their class. As the diagram I added in the previous post demonstrated, technology has to be added for a number of reasons.

One example of PCK in my classroom is by using the Jigsaw Method. The Jigsaw Method is a cooperative learning strategy that allows students to become well versed in one topic and then break off into mini groups to teach the concepts to their peers. This concept allows students to understand a larger concept but taught by their peers. I find that when my students are engaged in the content with their peers, as opposed to me ‘being the sage on the stage’, the learning curve that occurs is significant. I act as a facilitator and can then roam around to the different groups checking for understanding. While I have not yet added technology to the Jigsaw Method, I could get students to prepare mini summaries of their topic on a Google Doc where they could then share with their peers. The students could add their own thoughts to the shared document and it would expand on this collaborative learning method.


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

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23. Text accessible from Google Scholar.

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

My Vision of TELE’s: 5 Main Conditions

I have to agree with Chris Dede and his acknowledgement of Trotter’s (1998) statement that the inclusion of technology alone does not equate to better educational outcomes. My ideal pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced learning experience for math and/or science is exactly that, enhanced. The inclusion of technology into a classroom must enhance and enrich the learning experience. As I have stated before, technology needs to be implemented in a meaningful way that will allow students to better engage and learn the information at hand.

I found this diagram, picture below, that details five different conditions of meaningful learning.

While this particular diagram does not specifically address technology in the classroom, one can certainly see the relatedness of it. Any technology that is incorporated into the classroom should fall into most, if not all, of the following categories: active, constructive, cooperative, authentic, and most importantly in my opinion, intentional. Technology Enhanced Learning Environments (TELE’s) should be purposeful at their core.



Meaningful Learning – Education wired up. (2017). Retrieved 9 June 2017, from


Hi Everyone,

From my interview, the main theme that kept reoccurring was implementing inquiry-based learning, along with technology, as a main means of learning. I am trying to come up with my STEM issue and I have a great interest in IBL. I’d love some feedback on my working research question.

Does Inquiry Based Learning have a positive affect in promoting and improving student learning with regards to STEM?

What do you think? Thanks!