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Colleen's Representations 4Ts and 4SPPIces

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Colleen Godinho
7 April 2017

I selected the 4Ts and 4SPPIces models of representation for my review. I found both the representations were easier to read and understand than some of the other models available at present. I feel their simplicity was mainly due to their visual graphic appeal ameliorated by the use of symbols;–the swimming lanes with circle and rectangle shapes in the 4Ts model, and the oval shape divided into quarter segments for the 4SPPIces model. The titles of the models also help with memory recall of the models features reminding the designer that they have to focus on 4 main areas. For the 4Ts they are: Task, Teams, Technology and Time. For the 4SPPIces they are: Pedagogical Method, Participants, Space and History. There is however a crossover between the two representations for example Participants in the 4SPPIces includes Teams from the 4Ts and Space in the 4SPPIces includes Technology (Persico et al., 2013).


Both the representations lend themselves to the Social constructivism learning theories as learning through discussion, knowledge sharing and critical thinking within the cultural context is important in the learning process.


As Persico et al., (2013) note the two representations have much in common not only in regard to the focus for the designer but also the fact that both representations are specifically designed for computer assisted collaborative learning contexts which means it would work well with blended learning programmes.


The 4SPPIces model is used within LdShake in the representation and therefore unlike the 4Ts representation would have the benefit of networking with other practitioners, technicians and those interested in developments in the field. The expert support and suggestions made from feedback on the ‘tabs’ would assist the designer to overcome any issues they may encounter in their final design. There are clearly two important actors in the scenario here; the teacher and the technician; this has implications for the use of the LdShake tool, as without this it would be difficult to involve the technicians. This is not the case with the 4Ts model as the only actors are the teachers and the students.


The 4SPPIces model of representation could be useful when structuring a whole course as it is more holistic in its approach whereas the 4Ts is useful for both whole course and individual lesson design (Persico et al., 2013).  I like the idea of being able to access the activities set from anywhere 4SSPIces defines both physical and virtual ‘Space’. The idea of using ‘homework’ activities as a means of learning outside the classroom could be useful to encourage the ‘flipped’ classroom approach in schools and colleges. ‘Space’ is made explicit in the design whereas this is missing from the 4Ts model. However the 4Ts model does make explicit the timings of tasks. I feel that timing is something that would be quite difficult to account for particularly as every phase is constantly been reiterated. It varies with the task and so will constantly need adjusting as some tasks may need longer when working in collaboration or alone, this cannot be predicted in advance.


The SWOT analysis incorporated in the 4Ts design is useful in reflecting upon the entire design process. Although not used in the 4SPPIces representation, the plenary discussion and debates in the Pedagogical method does infer that reflection would be a consideration in the design process.    


The 4Ts  representation is aimed at collaborative working yet some of the activities are individual which meant further information about the teams was necessary. This was possible to include in the design although size, number and role of teacher had to be made explicit. The 4Ts model assumes that the ‘same system functionalities’ Persico et al., (2013) will be used, but in the representation ‘email’ was used which was not part of the system although included under Environment.


Both models clearly have their strengths and weaknesses but they have shown to be flexible in application in regard to the Healthy Eating scenario.




Consideration of representations for my Activity !b.


  1. I feel the 4Ts representation would have been most useful for me as I was concerned with macro-design of the entire three week course as well as micro-design of individual session plans and this model is well suited to this purpose. The 4Ts is good for introducing new teachers to collaborative methods in a straight forward way. I don’t think the 4SPPIces would have been as useful as I was a relatively new teacher at the time and not used to designing collaborative learning tasks. I think the 4SPPIces would be better for more experienced teachers who would have better skills in working with other practitioners and technicians as well as the confidence required!
  2. If I had used the representation of the swim lanes it would have helped me to see clearly the actions I needed to take, when and at what stage and time (albeit an estimate). I did of course have session plans but then this was based on the standard textual template used across all curriculums. It is so much easier to see the symbols and necessary information colour coded!    


I wouldn’t have had an issue with going back and forwards in my design as I only have the learners for a short time and therefore tended to review the sessions after each presentation anyway with a view to improvement. A SWOT analysis would provide me with a clear indication of areas for reviewing.


A collaborative approach based on socio-constructivism would be the best in view of my learners needs as all were new to the technology and lacked confidence requiring motivation. Yet they would not have been ready to make use of ‘space’ outside a classroom on their own as they needed my support to scaffold their learning process.  


As the majority of my learners did not speak English as a first language I had to deal with issues of inclusivity and I feel the 4Ts model would again assist in the design. Tasks had to be designed which focused more on ‘doing’ than requiring the learners to discuss and debate issues!  

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