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Multi-pedagogies meeting Multi-technologies, Looking Back 20 Years and then Forward to Today!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
There many famous quotes and expressions related to change and innovation that imply that what we see around us everyday is basically what we already have seen; i.e., today is the same as yesterday. For instance, the obvious one is “the more things change, the more things stay the same.” Another is “Yesterday comes like today.” How about this one that I found in Wikiquote ( “They made two thousand years ago seem like yesterday, and yesterday looked like today, just as today would, in time, look like tomorrow” by Geoff Dyer. In contrast, the 9th president of Turkey, Süleyman Demirel said “Yesterday is yesterday, today is today” (see

Well, some of what I see happening in relation to the use of technology in education reminds me of the past. However, much of it has some freshness that is worth writing about. Let’s see if you agree.

Twenty Years Back:. Back in the late 1980s when I was just a wee young lad studying collaborative reading and writing back at the University of Wisconsin (age 7 or 8), there were numerous methods that were developed and researched and dozens more that were likely never researched. For example, there were generic cooperative learning methods such as student Team Learning techniques like Student Teams Achievement Divisions (STAD) and Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT) from Robert Slavin and others at Johns Hopkins University which were more behaviorally based. At the same time, there was the Learning Together method as well as Structured Controversy from David and Roger Johnson at the Cooperative Learning Center the University of Minnesota which were both more humanistically based. There were several other generic cooperative learning methods that could also be used for reading and writing.

At some point there was a flurry of techniques developed specific to the reading and writing area. Much of this flurry paralleled the rise in meacognitive strategy research in the cognitive psychology camp. I do not have the time nor the space to detail each method here but I have a really old and never officially published paper on this if anyone wants. For instance, around 1988 many people were talking about the success of the Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) method which Robert Stevens researched when at Johns Hopkins. There was also research on Reciprocal Teaching which Anne Marie Palincsar and Anne Brown made highly popular when at the University of Illinois; it is popular today. Then there was the MURDER/Cooperative Scripts technique which Don Dansereau and his colleagues at Texas Christian University designed and researched for helping with the comprehension of text in pairs. Note that back when I was at West Virginia University, Deb Clarke and I developed a similar technique called READERS, but that is another story for another day. In contrast to these peer-based and cooperative methods, other techniques that took a more personalized or individualized stance including Reading Recovery (Pinnell, 1989), and Success for All (Slavin et al., 1990). Interestingly, these two methods you still here about today!

For all you Web 2.0 and e-learning geeks, there were technology-based approaches for collaboratively developing reading, writing, and other skills such as Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE) from my friends at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) (Scardamalia, Bereiter, McLean, Swallow, & Woodruff, 1989). CSILE morphed into the Knowledge Forum about a decade ago. Also interesting to me was the Reading Partner and Writing Partner approaches wherein, like my dissertation, technology was used as a tool or collaborative partner operating in the zone of proximal development of the learner (see work of Salomon, Globerson, and Guterman, 1989 as well as Zellermayer, Salomon, Globerson, & Givon, 1991). Then there was the work of John Bransford and his colleagues at the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (Bransford, Sherwood, & Hasselbring, 1988) which designed numerous instructionally "anchoring" situations called "macrocontexts." Macrocontexts are a shared knowledge or experience base (back in those days they were typically films adapted to video) that help learners focus on collaborative meaning making activities, small group dialogue, and the building of multiple perspectives. With the explosion of online video during the past few years, macrocontexts and anchoring instruction is definitely alive and well in the twenty-first century. Now you can anchor your instruction in a common YouTube, TeacherTube, CNN, or Yahoo video which your class can watch (or potentially create).

In addition to macrocontexts and anchoring instruction, what does this have to do with today? Well every single method mentioned above were multicomponent strategies. They were called “kitchen sink” approaches to instruction since everything was thrown in (e.g., discussion, peer feedback, modeling, questioning, reflection, debate, etc.). In fact, the research at the time on cooperative scripts and reciprocal teaching was highly focused on determining which strategy or feature was vital to making any of them work. However, that was the kicker—there was no one key strategy. Everything was needed!

Back to Today: And that, my friends, leads me to this reflection on my own teaching the past few weeks and this entire fall. I have been trying out things that involve many pedagogical ideas meshed and intertwined with each other. For the most part, they have worked great. But, just like those cooperative reading and collaborative writing methods that I studied in the 1980s, none of these would have worked so well if I had forgotten a piece. Perhaps that is why teaching is an art and a science. Here are ten of these pedagogical ideas and inventions (all briefly stated):

Ten Ideas Where Multi-Pedagogies Meet Multi-Technologies:
1. Synchronous Webinar plus Asynchronous Discussion: Three weeks ago, my students in my learning theories class (see syllabus at had a Breeze (now Adobe Connect Pro) meeting with the famous instructional design professor from Utah State, Dr. David Merrill. He was marvelous and the session was as well (we recorded the final 53 minutes of it; you can find it here:; ignore the first few minutes with feedback in the system). But this was a capstone event. Before meeting Dr. Merrill in Breeze, my students read and discussed some of his articles online and watched a videostreamed lecture he gave at Florida State University last April (see; go to page 2). Combining such pedagogical approaches was highly powerful. They read, discussed and debated, watched, brainstormed about, and then met Dr. David Merrill. Along the way, they used at least four different technologies.

2. Improvisation: After the Breeze session, I had my students do some improvisation of their learning theories (in a similar fashion to a performance I merrily witnessed at the Comedy Store in London last year); I am always on the lookout for ideas to enhance my teaching. Here I had students read ideas from their reflections on their learning and teaching philosophies. Some of these were on paper and others came from posts in our online discussion forum. If I liked what they were saying, I blew a train whistle at random moments and they went to the end of the line and stayed in the competition. If I did not like it or they hemmed and hawed or repeated themselves, I rang a bell and they had to sit down. I did this in groups of 4 students. The ones left standing at the end got a trophy. The train whistle and the bell were the main technologies used here though they might have posted their philosophies to Oncourse. Improv is fun and cool.

3. Wikibook Critiquing, Editing, and Creating: At the same time, this class was creating a Wikibook on the “Practice of Learning Theories” (the POLT; see with students from the University of Houston. But first this class critiqued an existing wikibook on learning theories from Michael Orey’s class at the University of Georgia (see critiques at and Mike's Wikibook at Then they edited an existing Wikibook on learning theories and learning theorists from Dale Fowler’s class at Indiana Wesleyan. In effect, this is likely the first class to ever critique a wikibook, edit a wikibook, and produce one of their own. We ended with a capstone videoconference between Indiana and Houston students. Again, there were many things combined in here. Student chapter drafts were edited by their instructors and peers before posting.

4. Wikibook Global Collaboration: In my other class on the Web 2.0 and Participatory e-Learning (see, during the past few weeks, my students and I designed a Wikibook on “The Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies” or “The WELT”). Peers from the Open University of Malaysia, Beijing Normal University, National Chiao Tung University, and Indiana State have all been involved in this wikibook project. Individual work plus peer feedback from around the world and now anyone can edit it! This is so cool. Check it out: Perhaps you can make a contribution! Note that students also reflected on their learning from their wikibook chapter.

5. Second Life from the Source: In the Web 2.0 and Participatory e-Learning class (i.e., R685), two weeks ago we had a guest lecture from Sarah Robbins (alias “Intellagirl” in Second Life; see I had her make an appearance only my students read about Second Life (SL) and watched educational videos in YouTube related to it. During my class, Sarah talked about her upcoming book, “Second Life for Dummies” which I recommend some of you check out. My students were amazed with her presentation style. So, in this approach, we had a live demonstration of SL after watching SL videos and reading about SL.

6. Wiki Research Panel: In the previous week, we had a wiki research panel of graduate students and faculty members (wherein I participated). First we read articles on wikis, then they heard research on wikipedia and wikibooks, and then, as stated earlier, they wrote their own wikibooks. Multi-pedagogical approaches and multi-technologies.

7. Blogging Plus: The R685 class also did blogging for a class assignment and had an option to create a YouTube video, video podcast (i.e., vodcast), or video blog (i.e., vlog) in place of one of their other assignments. This worked pretty well. Some students did not look forward to critical friend feedback but they grew to liking it. Some students received feedback from the author of the articles they were reflecting on. Now that is cool and something that was much more rare or impossible previously. With the blog assignment was a reflection paper and peer feedback from an assigned critical friend on each blog. Multiple levels of reflection!

8. Online Explorations for Class Role Plays: The Web 2.0 class also engaged in role play during the semester related to the free and open source software movement. First they had to find out as much information as they could about the person whom they were to role play (most of it online). Then they were to read his or her assigned articles (which were all online). It was quite fun and fascinating.

9. Podcast Explorations: I also had my students listen to a podcast and critique it during the week we were reading about podcasts (again all online articles). And three times during the semester, we had a podcast made in iTunes of the lecture. We experienced podcast then in multiple ways—listened, created, and read about them.

10. YouTube Anchors and Enders: Finally, I had my P540 (learning theory) students sign up to be the cool resource provider for the class one week during the semester. In addition to online articles and portals, they had to find online videos such as YouTube videos to show that relates to the weekly assigned readings. These videos can anchor their instruction at the beginning of class as well as end the class meeting. As they found out, there are thousands of educational videos you can use. We post these to our course management system to watch later if they want. One day, we watched short online videos from George Siemens about Connectivism and then we brainstormed questions to ask him. George replied via email to the class. How cool was that! We all should be using short online videos in our teaching at least a couple of times per course. They are free, they are available in many formats and from many sources, and they are at your fingertips (no longer do you need to complete a silly form to get the video from an AV department). In addition, you can feel less guilty not showing the entire video. Hec, you can always show it again later on or students can access it on their own before or after class. Video in instruction is now on demand and highly flexible AND it can be the anchor of your lectures. Dual coding theory in action--your verbal lectures or course readings plus a few short YouTube or CNN videos. Wow--this is so cool!

So, combining pedagogies and combining technologies was my approach this fall. Like the strategies from the 1980s, mentioned earlier, I tried multicomponent methods. I threw in the kitchen sink! I am not sure what worked best or why it worked, but, as a whole, it worked and that is the important thing. Increasingly instructors will be relying on teaching techniques which are multicomponent. There is so much to do and so many opportunities. Time to turn on the juice!

We live in a time when people talk about multi-tasking and multi-literacies. I think we have to start discussing multi-pedagogies and multi-technologies. Yesterday is yesterday, and today is today; so let’s find more ways to live in today and take advantage of what is here now or in front of us.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 11:30 PM  
  • At 6:06 AM, Blogger MW (My Wish) said…

    Cool reflection! Wish things were different here with elearning. There is no such thing called pedagogy for online learning. Hate that.

  • At 6:57 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Ah, Lori, perhaps bring me over to Taiwan to show some of your administrators what is possible or have me do a talk via videoconferencing perhaps. Happy to do!!!!!!!!

  • At 8:16 AM, Blogger william said…

    Hi Curt - you wrote: I do not have the time nor the space to detail each method here but I have a really old and never officially published paper on this if anyone wants.:

    I am in the middle of some historical reviews for my own research and would be very much interested in your findings, experiences via an old paper. We do a lot of stuff just like those you are describing with your methods, in our polytechnical high school here in Roskilde Denmark. Its great stuff. If you could email me your old unpublished paper, I would appreciate it muchly.

    Bill Linnane
    Media Lab, Chemistry, Technology and Industrial Processes
    Roskilde Technical School, HTX

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Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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