Portfolio for TRU EDDL

No Size Fits All

What is the main position, hypothesis, argument, or finding of the resource(s)?

The main argument in unit 4 is that more consideration and creative pedagogies could be employed to make the most of online, distance or blended learning environments with consideration to ever evolving educational technologies. With subtle or substantial technological advancements, it’s common to get focused on the tools for teaching. When more often the heart of the knowledge transferred isn’t through the medium of technology, but rather the personalized examples and deeper insights gleaned from the information. “Another myth is that computers personalise learning…. they don’t. They allow students alternative routes through material and they allow automated feedback but they do not provide a sense of being treated as an individual. This can be done in online learning, but it needs online intervention and presence in the form of discussion, encouragement, and an understanding of an individual student’s needs.” (Daniel, p.12)

What do you agree with or disagree with, and why?

I agree with this approach wholeheartedly, and have always been focused on generating a holistic learning environment where the bigger picture is an element of all education. Constructive conversation and different angles of comprehension allow for empathy and understanding, which in turn create balance in and out of the classroom.  Skills that show the student thinking for themselves are the most rewarding, such as creative problem solving, critical discourse independently or with peers and ultimately a sense of self-sufficiency as a student. I believe technology can aid the process of teaching and learning, but I want to feel that if the technology were to fail me, I’d know how to keep the students attention on the subject. I look to find the threads of interest running through a classroom, and try to capitalize on collective energy and pushing that forward. My goal is to get students thinking about their place in the world and how they can improve, challenge and engage with it. “People are not blank slates but begin with models and knowledge of the world and learn and exist in a social context of great intricacy and depth.” (Anderson & Dron, p.3)

How does it/do they apply to your own context or a setting you are familiar with?

As an arts teacher, my focus when teaching is seldomly reliant upon technology. I believe that educational exercises are most successful and impactful when the student can substitute one tool for another. Breaking it down to percentages, I support using 20% of a lesson in theory/focused mode and the remaining 80% on diffuse/creative mode. Therefore dedicating a significant amount of allowance for considering the deeper threads between lessons and how they may relate in an obvious but also an abstract way. An equal measure of purpose, content & technique can provide a balanced lesson that can put the learner into a self-sufficient mode where they are motivated and engaged enough to think critically about the topic. No matter what the subject may be. Though this is from an earlier unit, I found the following case study to be a very interesting angle of consideration towards pedagogy and technology;  “For  instance,  in  the  late  1980s  the vocational  focus  by  the National  Commission  of Nomadic Education in Nigeria provided funding for radio programs to educate the rural nomadic Fulbe community in Nigeria (Usman, 2001). The program covered prevention of animal diseases, information  on  animal  and  crop  practices,  production  of  cheese,  milk,  and  butter,  cooking  and nutrition  programs,  and  religious  programs.  The  funding  agencies  and  organisers  of  these programs however failed to consider the difficulties Fulbe women experienced in gaining access to  radios,  which  were  purchased  and  used  mostly  by  their  husbands.  Broadcast  times  did  not easily fit around the busy lives of these women, who also had domestic obligations and financial responsibilities  for  the  dairy  products. “ (Gulate p.4)

What recommendations would you make for your organization in relation to what you have learned?

I believe it’s important that there is transparency in any organization between everyone involved, especially with respect to education. For example; if a strike happens at the school students should understand why their teachers are striking and the circumstances surrounding the decision. Educating individuals, young and old,  about the realities of life outside organizations and institutions can only help in preparing them for the real world and its complexity. I’m less concerned about teaching the latest technology and more interested in providing students with the knowledge and power to make up their own mind, create change, and think objectively and empathetically. Not only in regard to their own life circumstances but the people and the world around them. As Anderson & Dron point out “To a large extent, the generations have evolved in tandem with the technologies that enable them: As new affordances open out, it becomes possible to explore and capitalize on different aspects of the learning process. For each mode of engagement, different types of knowledge, learning, and contexts must be applied and demand that distance educators and students be skilled and informed to select the best mix(es) of both pedagogy and technology.” (p.5) From an unrelated piece of writing by David Toop about making the most out of the tools and technology we’ve got available “ultimately these holes in the ground address a basic problem – how to make a small thing bigger – and by applying the principle of resonance they fashion an elegant solution whose imprint will gradually soften and crumble into an impression rather than a scar. We could learn something from that.” 




Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(3), 80-97. http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/890/1663

Daniel, J. (2012, December 13). Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2012(3). https://jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/2012-18/

Gulati, S. (2008, February). Technology-enhanced learning in developing nations: A review. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(1). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/477/1012

Toop, D. (2017, September 29). gone to earth https://davidtoopblog.com/2017/09/29/gone-to-earth/



  1. castoria

    Regarding Bates and his claim, “Computers personalize learning…No, they don’t. They allow students alternative routes through material and they allow automated feedback but they do not provide a sense of being treated as an individual. This can be done in online learning, but it needs online intervention and presence in the form of discussion, encouragement, and an understanding of an individual student’s needs.”

    I would disagree. Firstly, what is meant by personalization? If, in the case of learning, we are talking about tailoring an experience to individual needs and or preferences, computers and the software they run are quite capable of doing that. Alternative routes? Alternative to what? The less suitable mainstream routes? Almost sounds like…personalization. Feedback may indeed be automated, but if it changes based on the needs and abilities of the students, it’s personal feedback, automated or not.
    Perhaps the more important point, is that computers are consistently improving in this regard. As machine learning and AI continue to develop, we can expect personalization to grow by leaps and bounds. I already have students using computers to adapt mathematics to their strengths and weaknesses, revisiting concepts they are struggling with, and providing more challenging problems in areas of strength. Educators very often use objective assessments to guide lesson planning. Parsing objective data is something computers do exceedingly well. I’d venture to say that computers can often do it more efficiently than teachers. Technology has certainly brought us to a point where computers can adapt material to the needs of the individual learner.
    I won’t suggest that perhaps it can’t be done better, or in a more complete manner with the intervention of a well trained human educator. However, that would lead to a discussion of diminishing returns. Often the point of these educational endeavors is to make the experience open to a very large number of participants. Reliance on a “personal touch” limits scalability.
    Let’s not put teachers out to pasture in favor of silicon docents quite yet, but I think Bates might be letting nostalgia get the better of him in this case.


    • jmatthews

      Thank you so much for your comment and insight Chris, I really appreciate your thoughts and perspective. I think you’ve got a great point, and it’s made me think even more about unit 4 and the readings. I haven’t got any experience teaching online, and this course is my first time learning online so it’s all new to me. Excellent input.

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