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Susan Mckenney: Designing and researching technology enhanced learning for the zone of proximal implementation

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Yishay Mor
5 October 2011

Internationally, society is increasingly demanding that the relevance and practical applicability of research be made transparent. Despite intentions to the contrary, insights on pedagogically appropriate uses of educational technology for representative teachers in everyday school settings are severely limited. In part, this is because (design) research is often conducted at the bleeding edge of what is technologically possible - exploring innovative uses of new and emerging technologies. There is no disputing that such work is greatly needed to seek out new ways to potentially enhance the quality of teaching and learning. However, in the excitement of exploring what is possible, tomorrow, insufficient research and development work focuses on what is practical, today. This leaves a problematic gap between what could be effective TEL in theory, and what can be effective TEL in practice. This paper calls for designers/researchers of TEL to devote attention to not only fine-grained issues of pupil learning and instruction, but also to broader factors that determine if and how innovations are understood, adopted and used by teachers and schools. Methodological considerations are given for designing and studying interventions that are prone to implementation by being: value-added, clear, harmonious and tolerant.

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Design based on the state-of-the-art but also based on the state-of-practice (theoretical informed and expertise based LD?, resolving this tension)

Teachers exited by delivery available tools, but less on pedagogy.

TEL research with the ZPD:

Where teachers and learners are now and where they are suppose get.

Design trajectories for enabling the “majority” innovate in LD with technologies.

New book: Conducting educational design research

People have to clearly identify their role on the innovation, and this innovation must be compatible with their beliefs, compatible with the context.

Marcelo Fabián Maina
13:54 on 13 October 2011

It isn't easy to see the borders of the zone of proximal implementation. For example, Steve Jobs could do it, yet he revolutionised IT.


Donatella Persico
14:38 on 13 October 2011

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added by Yishay Mor


John Cook
6:28pm 10 October 2011

Following a useful introduction that highlights what can be described as the 'implementation gap' of TEL R&D, the paper focuses on design from the perspective of what can be implemented by teachers and schools. "The zone of proximal implementation refers to the distance between what teachers and schools can implement independently and what they can implement through guidance or collaboration."

Based on work by McKenney and Reeves, the author (Susan) identify four characteristics of innovations & Educational DBR: value- added, clear, harmonious and tolerant. Interesting that the case from Cook (Cistercian abbeys) also in this strand would fall under this description (deliberately so). Table 1 gives us methodological recommendations  for studying each characteristic (grey cells).

The paper provides a useful frame to examine "The importance of understanding where teachers and schools are, and framing innovations to be within a reachable distance from that". I also enjoyed reading it, it rasies some excellent issues.

One questions that occurs to me is: how can a focus on teachers ever lead to pervasive ubiquitous learning that hooks into the agency of learner and new sites of informal learning?

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