The Padagogy Wheel


It Is Not About the Apps, It Is About The Pedagogy

The Padagogy Wheel is designed to help educators think – systematically, coherently and with a view to long-term, big-picture outcomes – about how they use mobile apps in their teaching. The Padagogy Wheel is all about mindsets; it is a way of thinking about digital-age education that meshes together concerns about mobile app features, learning transformation, motivation, cognitive development and long-term learning objectives.

The Padagogy Wheel is not rocket science. It is an everyday device that can be readily used by everyday teachers; it can be applied to everything from curriculum planning and development, to writing learning objectives and designing student-centred activities. The idea is for the users to respond to the challenges that the wheel presents for their teaching practices, and to ask themselves the tough questions about their choices and methods.

The underlying principle of the Padagogy Wheel is that it is the pedagogy that should determine the educational use of apps. It is all very well to come across an exciting new app and to think, “That is really cool, now how can I use it in the classroom?” What teachers need to do at the same time is to think about how that app might contribute to their set of educational aims for the program they are teaching. It was in fact this very concern, how to make the pedagogy drive the technology and not the other way around, that led to the birth of the Padagogy Wheel.

How Does the Padagogy Wheel Work?

The Padagogy Wheel brings together in the one chart several different domains of pedagogical thinking. It situates mobile apps within this integrated framework, associating them with the educational purpose they are most likely to serve. It then enables teachers to identify the pedagogical place and purpose of their various app-based learning and teaching activities in the context of their overall objectives for the course and with reference to the wider developmental needs of their students.

Padagogy like Mechanical GearsIt is useful to see the wheel as providing a series of challenges and questions, a structured set of prompts asking teachers to reflect on their teaching, from planning to implementation. These prompts are interconnected like mechanical gears, where a decision in one area often affects decisions in other areas. Teachers should consider each area as a grid through which they filter what they are doing. There are five of these grids, as detailed below.

The Five Grids

  1. Graduate attributes and capabilities

Graduate attributes are at the core of learning design. Graduate attributes address the long-term, enduring aims of the educational activity. They involve thinking about the type of people that emerge from educational programs – their ethics, responsibility and citizenship, for example – and their employability in the current and future society. Teachers must constantly revisit the way in which their programs are contributing to the development of these attributes. They need to do the hard yards of articulating what they expect a graduate of a program to ‘look like’; that is, what is it that a graduate is and does that is regarded as successful and meets the expectations of his community as a change agent and leader. How else can teachers help students know what transformation looks like?

Many universities around the world are constantly working on their graduate attributes and mapping their programs to them. The blog post If you exercise these capabilities. You will be employed! is really eye-opening for college educators. These are the attributes and capabilities that CEOs in the marketplace want in graduates, the things they look for when hiring. If educational leaders do not have a clear picture of the qualities and capabilities of an excellent graduate of their program, then how can teachers help students strive for excellence and to be leaders in their worlds?

Every teacher needs to look at their courses and pedagogy and ask, “How does everything I do support these attributes? Is there any way I can build content and activities that help students become excellent?”

  1. Motivation

Motivation is vital to achieving the most effective learning outcomes. It is valuable for teachers to regularly ask themselves, “Why am I doing this again?” That is not a joke. It refers to the choices of learning outcomes, development of activities and design of content, for example, writing text and even making videos. The wheel introduces a 21st century model of motivation that science has developed. Dan Pink presents this well in the TEDtalk The Puzzle of Motivation. If teachers think through the grid of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (AMP) and filter everything they do, from idea-creation to assessment, it will significantly help their teaching be transformational. Barbi Honeycutt on her FlipIt Blog has some good ideas on how to implement Dan Pink’s AMP principles in the flipped classroom model.

  1. Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy is really a way of helping teachers design learning objectives that require higher order thinking. Start with remembering and understanding, which is the easiest category to serve with objectives, but produces the least effective outcomes in achieving transformation. When supporting teachers, try to get at least one learning objective from each category and always push towards the domain category of creating, where higher order thinking takes place. This is the ‘By the time you finish this workshop/seminar/lesson you should be able to…’ type of thinking. Only after teachers have developed their learning outcomes are they ready for technology enhancement.

  1. Technology enhancement

Technology enhancement serves pedagogy. When teachers choose any app or technology they must remember to apply the app selection criteria. The model only suggests apps that can support the learning objectives and activities at the time of publishing. The Padagogy Wheel constantly needs updating with apps as they are released. Teachers also should think customization all the time – is there a better app or tool for the job of enhancing their defined pedagogy?

  1. The SAMR model

Developed by Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR model – standing for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition – is a framework that assists teachers to assess the degree to which digitally empowered learning and teaching is (or is not) moving beyond what can be taught using analogue technologies. The SAMR model is extremely useful when teachers are considering how they are going to use the technologies they have chosen.

SAMR is a widely used model with a wealth of resources online, like Kathy Schrock’s excellent SAMR resources page. A very useful perspective on SAMR is through the eyes of the students, as explained in a short YouTube video.

Teachers should take each of their activities and think through how they will use the technology for each task. Ask “Does this activity just substitute (that is, students could easily achieve the tasks without this chosen technology) or can the tasks be augmented or modified to improve the activity and increase engagement?” Finally sieve the curriculum building activities and teaching practice through the SAMR grid of Redefinition. Is there any task that can be built into the activity that without the technology would not be possible?

A Challenge

Teachers should spend time thinking through how they can apply all five of the grids to their curriculum design, lesson plans and teaching practice. They should learn more about each grid, take the Padagogy Wheel out for a spin and share their best practice examples.

This year, an objective is to build an online resource of how teachers have used the model, showcasing best practice and including research projects. China has over 14.5 million teachers (yes, just teachers!) and they are all extremely committed to change, hungry for professional development and collaboration. Work on the Padagogy Wheel by Australian teachers could help many thousands of educators in China, as well as others around the world. This will help students become excellent practitioners and graduates, leading their communities into transformational change and could make the world a better place. After all, that is why you became a teacher, is it not?

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Allan Carrington
Allan Carrington was a Learning Designer at the University of Adelaide for 10 years and has a background in print production, publishing and marketing. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and has won two major teaching awards including a National OLT citation. He has two Masters degrees in Education and Interactive Multimedia. He now runs Designing Outcomes helping educational initiatives around the world.
Allan Carrington

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