Citekey: @Kollar2013




We argue that, just like musical pieces, TEL environments need to be created (i.e., orchestrated), adapted (i.e., arranged) and reified (i.e., conducted), and educational research that attempts to make a practical impact needs to consider all three processes. (p. 507)

We argue that it is the narrow perspective that Dillenbourg advocates concerning what orchestration is (namely the real-time management of events and activities in a classroom) that ignites such criticism. (p. 507)

  1. Orchestration precedes arrangement, and arrangement precedes conducting – how does this translate to taking TEL environments into the classroom? (p. 507)

How are TEL scenarios developed and how do they find their way into classrooms? First, a curriculum developer (e.g., a researcher) develops a scenario and provides a description of how different resources and tools should be combined and used by the teacher and the students. Second, a teacher takes the description and adapts it to the constraints of her classroom (e.g., she may skip a step of the description because her classroom does not provide the necessary technical resources). Third, the TEL scenario is enacted in the classroom under the guidance of the teacher. (p. 508)

What is however more interesting for our purposes is a description of the activities of the creator (composer vs. TEL scenario developer) and the enactor (conductor vs. teacher) in the two cases: When composing a symphony, the first step (creating and writing up the score) is usually called orchestrating. The second step (adapting the score to the characteristics of the orchestra) is called arranging. And what the conductor does during practice (step 3) and performance (step 4) is conducting. Thus, when Dillenbourg (2013) equates orchestration with the real-time management of activities and events in the classroom, he actually talks about “conducting”, not “orchestration”. (p. 508)

Thus, we argue for an expansion of the definition of “orchestration” in the context of TEL: “Orchestrating TEL means the process of creating, adapting and enacting a technology-enhanced learning scenario under complex classroom conditions1”. (p. 508)

  1. Classroom scripts as scores for TEL (p. 508)

In our own research (e.g., Kollar, Wecker, Langer, & Fischer, 2011), we have used the term “classroom scripts” to refer to such specifications of the flow of learning activities over the different social planes of a classroom (note their closeness to what a “score” is for an orchestra!). (p. 508)

Providing a “score” that defines what activities are supposed to happen on which social plane at what point in time is thus an important requirement of a successful orchestration of TEL scenarios. However, when we view orchestration as including processes of developing, arranging and conducting, our approach can be criticized for only focussing on the first process. In deed, it was us (the researchers) who developed a plan for the curriculum unit, but we did not allow the teacher to adapt the score, nor did we allow for freedom during its enactment (we made sure that teachers could not change the order or levels of activities). (p. 509)

  1. Methodological implications of using the expanded orchestration metaphor (p. 509)

Orchestras consist of individuals who may be grouped into sub-groups (horns section, winds section etc.) that together form a larger group – just like classrooms. In research on orchestrating TEL, we should thus admit that we are investigating multilevel phenomena and apply new methods to appropriately address these multilevel phenomena. (p. 509)

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Bodong Chen



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Bodong Chen, University of Minnesota

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