Scaffolding Instructional Practices in Online Problem-Based Inquiry Instructional Design: Systems Pedagogical Reasoning

Scaffolding Instructional Practices in Online Problem-Based Inquiry Instructional Design: Systems Pedagogical Reasoning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8879-5.ch005


The systems pedagogical approach enhances teachers' pedagogical reasoning for integrating multiple technologies in inquiry, communication, and collaboration. However, inservice teachers must rely on educational experiences for learning to incorporate the systems thinking with their current TPACK understanding. The systems pedagogical approach supports the TPACK online learning trajectory through technological pedagogical thinking and reasoning as teacher educators design opportunities for transforming teachers' TPACK. The research in this chapter focuses on the impact of this systems approach on teachers' technological pedagogical reasoning as they learn about integrating multiple technologies in their classrooms. The course design takes advantage of knowledge-building communities through the application of the online TPACK learning trajectory. This research-based application highlights how the systems pedagogical scaffolding approach supports problem-based inquiry learning for reframing teachers' TPACK towards integrating digital image and video technologies with 21st century inquiry thinking skills: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating. Through such designed key experiences, teachers gain experiences with multiple instructional strategies for collaboration, communication, and inquiry in designing problem-based online inquiry learning. The process guides them in refining their mental models for integrating multiple technologies in teaching that relies on an increasingly complex technological pedagogical understanding as they learn about the technologies and teaching with those technologies. Participants' products, interactions, and reflections demonstrate their engagement in high levels of thinking and learning with digital image and video technologies. Such a systems pedagogical understanding is at the core of teachers' development of the technological pedagogical reasoning for supporting the transformation of their TPACK.
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The whole is more than the sum of its parts. ~Aristotle

Online educational environments present teacher educators with clearly different settings for inservice teacher professional development to engage them in active learning experiences that develop their understandings about teaching with technologies. With primarily asynchronous settings for engaging geographically diverse participants, teacher educators must consciously choreograph the pedagogical strategies to guide participants in active learning experiences to involve them in knowledge-building communities. Multiple instructional strategies are available for promoting active online learning including demonstrations, simulations, lab exercises, debates, group discussions, and critical thinking challenge questions. Simply incorporating these multiple instructional practices does not necessarily produce an effective online learning experience. Course designers’ pedagogical reasoning is helpful in orchestrating the instructional experiences for specific pedagogical reasons. Wilson, Shulman and Richert (1987) describe this pedagogical reasoning process as helping teachers make important connections beginning with comprehension of the subject matter and continuing with new comprehension after reflection on the instruction. In other words, simply including supported online instructional practices does not guarantee instruction that effectively guides participants in making connections among multiple content parts of the curriculum. Carefully considered and guided pedagogical reasoning is needed for promoting active learning in the online instructional puzzle.

When designing online inservice teacher professional development courses for transforming teachers’ knowledge for integrating technologies, course designers must consider multiple technologies with the intent of supporting specific instructional goals to actively guide the participants in developing their knowledge for integrating technologies in their instruction. The empirically supported, online TPACK learning trajectory (as described in Chapters 3 and 4) provides a starting point for the design of the desired knowledge-building, problem-based active online inquiry learning experiences. While the trajectory calls for the use of key tools (communities of learners and reflection) and processes (shared/individual knowledge development and inquiry) when scaffolding the experiences with the intent of building the content, the how and what of these parts are left to the course designer’s pedagogical reasoning. Transformative adult learning theory (as described in Chapter 2; Mezirow, 1991, 2000) emphasizes the importance of the experiences combined with discourse and critical reflection provided through the key tools and processes. However, the how is a result of the course designer’s pedagogical reasoning.

Given that the technologies are intentionally optimized for particular uses or functions for online instruction, the scaffolding of the instructional practices purposefully engages participants with multiple technologies used in concert to support the learning goals and objectives (Gillow-Wiles & Niess, 2014). These instructional decisions are a product of systems thinking, a process that results in a unified whole of the group of interacting experiences through the interaction of communication, collaboration and inquiry experiences. Through this systems thinking, as noted by Aristotle, the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts. For example, technologies designed to enhance inquiry-based learning (e.g. graphing calculators) can be paired with technologies best suited for sharing student thinking (e.g. computer/projector or document camera) to support collaboration and reflection, leading to deeper, higher level thinking. Since these technologies support only part of the learning experience, knowing how they interact and how to integrate them is an important aspect of systems pedagogical reasoning (Niess & Gillow-Wiles, 2015, 2017).

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