Task 2: What are the criteria by which TELEs can be evaluated?


What are the criteria by which TELEs can be evaluated?

I suppose the criteria at first glance would be taken from what we know or what has been done before? This is always comfortable, not to say it’s always correct…

My personal thoughts would be to use words or criteria like –

accessibility / intuition / engagement / control / tools / connectivity / motivation / creative / formal / informal / communication / interaction / feedback / productive / fun…

However I am sure (Now I know…) We have much deeper and consistent ways to evaluate or unpack the foundations of a TELE.


My first response would be its all about the outcome you are trying to achieve? correct for the job..! appropriate for the context..! However that is only applicable if you know what the outcome is? However if you consider deep learning or new knowledge creation as an example? Can we still use instructional methodology or must we adopt a constructivist or connectivist approach? Depending on the context, maybe we have room for all and the learning theory needs to go through the filter to produce a 21st century hybrid!

My reflection is a mixed diet approach regarding the selection and application of appropriate learning environments…untitled

I have recently found a paper which I feel deals with the question – Its long but I’m getting into the cycling suffer club mentality…!

(riding up stupid hills and enjoying the reward of the achievement… However I must note sometimes I get off and revisit the hill another time…!)

The foundations and assumptions of technology-enhanced student-centered learning environments

MICHAEL J. HANNAFINSUSAN M. LAND (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1002997414652#page-1)

This paper is basically a critique of the research associated with TELEs to unpack the foundations and some of the assumptions made around them.

“Learning systems are needed that encourage divergent reasoning, problem solving, and critical thinking. Student-centered learning environments have been touted as a means to support such processes.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

The key words are support and I assume this is in collaboration with other things. My first reflection that facilitation of learning doesn’t or happen in isolation! The complexity of the associations is extensive I feel. In the paper it is broken down and considers points from key speakers, the first focus is learning.

“Actions, goals, and processes are initiated as a result of both previous system experiences and intuitive assumptions about the concepts under study. Learning, then, is a dynamic process of “reflection-in-action” where action is used to extend thinking, and reflection is governed by the results of action” (Sch¨on, 1983).

I really like the reflection in action concept! The way action is needed in-order to move forward (I think this just sums up my learning style…). Is it then a problem that current society works on an instantaneous culture in some instances? The “Google it approach” when in reality according to learning theory, learners need time and resilience to engage in deep learning! I wonder how much this opposition that culturally society is moving towards? Can  impact learners…

Learning Environments

I have tried to highlight some interesting soundbites from the paper below, with my background as a teacher and now a HE lecturer I can see some truth in these statements and they have obviously resonated with me when reading this paper.

“Despite advances in technology, however, comparatively little impact of any significant scale has been evident. Teaching-learning approaches have often been re-hosted, not re-defined.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

“Technology has been harnessed to accomplish conventional aims, but comparatively few applications have unleashed the potential of either the technologies or learners.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

So learning environments can be categorised into five categories or foundations and it doesnt matter if they are technology enhanced or not its about the approach. 

3       4       5    6  7

PSYCHOLOGICAL              PEDAGOGICAL              TECHNOLOGICAL               CULTURAL                PRAGMATIC

I am going to use these five foundations as the criteria in which to evaluate my two TELE case studies alongside the hindering and enabling factors…


“Psychological foundations are subsequently operationalized through various design frameworks, activities, and strategies, which reflect beliefs about how individuals think, learn, understand, and act.”  (Hannafin and Land 1997)

This foundation in terms of TELEs links heavily to the constructivist theories of Lave and Vygotsky and context rich experiences. The evidence in this paper points to the positive aspects of TELEs regards the adopted psychological model alongside the key supporting features of the environment.

“Learning systems need to reflect, and be consistent with, the underlying psychological model upon which they are based. Student-centered learning environments emphasize learners as constructors of knowledge, the importance of context in understanding, and the essential nature of experience in learning.”  (Hannafin and Land 1997)


“Technology-enhanced, student-centered learning environments create contexts within which knowledge and skill are authentically anchored, and provide a range of tools and resources with which to navigate and manipulate.” (Hannafin,Hall, Land,& Hill, 1994)

“They afford opportunities to seek rather than to comply, to experiment rather than to accept, to evaluate rather than to accumulate, and to interpret rather than to adopt.”(Hannafin and Land 1997)

I feel this foundation is again regards TELEs highlights the need for diversity, options and a range of tools to facilitate learning. Varied approaches dependant on the context this I suppose is where the skill of the facilitator or teacher is challenged and the suitability of the environment is challenged.


“Technological capabilities constrain or enhance the types of learner-systemtransactions that are possible.”(Hannafin and Land 1997)

 “Technology-enhanced, student-centered learning environments often facilitate understanding of abstract concepts via concrete experience. For instance, a thermodynamics environment allows learners to collect real-time temperatures of various objects, noting changes as they are displayed graphically.” (Lewis, Stern, & Linn, 1993)

“Technological tools, in this instance, redefine the experiences available to learners and the cognitive requirements of a learning task.”(Hannafin and Land 1997)

The key for TELEs in this foundation is the link between the new technologies and the alignment with the adopted learning & teaching theory.


“Cultural foundations reflect prevailing beliefs about education, the values of a culture, and the roles of individuals in society.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

The values of a society have a massive impact on the learning environment and if you take that concept into a TELE it becomes even more so! The designers of that environment will be influenced by the culture personally and also from the institution as to what its goals or targets are? This could be difficult for a practitioner as he or she may have to use an environment that may have been formulated on a basis which contradicts or impacts the way he or she would like to engage with that environment?


“In a very real sense, pragmatic foundations dictate what can be in a learning environment, accounting for both human and technological assets and limitations as well as situational factors.”(Hannafin and Land 1997)

“However, not all perceived constraints are real. Some concerns reflect limited perspectives rather than legitimate constraints.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

Pragmatism can be very powerful tool, but also at the same time very constraining with regards a TELE. The design of such a complex learning environment can always commence with “blue sky thinking” this is easy to consider especially when you don’t have to make it work? The pragmatic foundation then is an ever-moving balance especially when you factor in technology! It must adapt and blend taking on new developments to enhance the environment, however still remaining clear on what is also realistic. I suppose in most cases pragmatism can be limiting if taken to far as often TELE environments in education can be lost in layers of constraining factors or caught in the problem that a technical person constructs the environment sometimes with limited input from teachers.


Short answer Look back to my mixed diet approach…


“As illustrated conceptually in Figure 1, each foundation should interact to some degree with all others, indicating mutual interdependence. As foundations become increasingly or decreasingly interdependent, the intersection increases or decreases accordingly. The more complete the coincidence, the better integrated the foundations; the better integrated the foundations, the greater the probability of success in the setting for which the learning environment is designed. In practice, the larger the coincidence among foundations, the better aligned the learning system’s underlying psychological, pedagogical, technological, cultural, and pragmatic factors.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

“Technology-enhanced student-centered learning environments are not simply dichotomous alternatives to direct instruction; they represent alternative approaches for fundamentally different learning goals. Any learning environment is ultimately shaped by its foundations and assumptions about learning, pedagogy, and the learner: As the assumptions change, the interplay among the foundations changes. The issue is not the inherent superiority of one approach over another, but recognition of the foundations, assumptions and methods appropriate to specific learning goals and cultures.” (Hannafin and Land 1997)

Reflections on two TELE examples –

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