Understanding teaching, learning and assessment processes

Integrating technology in an authentic manner into the curriculum is critical for learners to understand the what and why of measuring learning achievement. Biggs (2003) argues for the “constructive alignment” of learning activities, assessment strategies, and learning outcomes – in other words the assessment activities must be designed to measure authentic learning (Herrington, Reeves & Oliver, 2009). Higher education often suffers from a disconnect between theory and practice, particularly with a focus upon two common assessment activities: exams and essays. In my experience a better approach to assessment design is to focus upon project or problem based learning activities that engage students in authentic tasks that they will use within their chosen professions after graduating – creating a mentoring process into becoming active members of the profession they are studying for. Danvers (2003) refers to this approach as ‘ontological pedagogies’. Thus I focus upon guiding academics to move away from teacher-directed pedagogies, towards designing learning experiences around developing student creativity, ontological pedagogies, and student-determined learning or heutagogy (Hase & Kenyon, 2007). Technology can be a powerful catalyst to facilitate these conceptual shifts in teaching and learning (Cochrane, 2013; Kukulska-Hulme, 2010). For example: How and why can Twitter be authentically integrated in the curriculum? (Cochrane, 2010; Cochrane, Bateman, Buchem, Camacho, Gordon, Keegan & Rhodes, 2011; Cochrane, Mulrennan, Sissons, Pamatatau & Barnes, 2013)

Throughout the design, implementation and evaluation of multiple educational technology projects I have iteratively developed a framework for designing authentic learning activities (Table 1).

Table 1: A Framework for Creative pedagogies, technology and the PAH continuum (modified from Luckin et al., 2010)

Pedagogy Andragogy Heutagogy
Activity Types
  • Content delivery
  • Digital assessment
  • Teacher delivered content
  • Teacher defined projects
  • Teacher as guide
  • Digital identity
  • Student-generated content
  • Student negotiated teams
  •  Teacher co-learner
  • Digital presence
  • Student-generated contexts
  • Student negotiated projects
Locus of control Teacher Student Student
Cognition Cognitive Meta-cognitive Epistemic
SAMR (Puentedura, 2006) Substitution & Augmentation

  • Portfolio to eportfolio
  • PowerPoint on iPad
  • Focus on productivity
  • Mobile device as personal digital assistant and consumption tool

  • Reflection as VODCast
  • Prezi on iPad
  • New forms of collaboration
  • Mobile device as content creation and curation tool

  • In situ reflections
  • Presentations as dialogue with source material
  • Community building
  • Mobile device as collaborative tool
Creativity (Kaufman & Pretz, 2012) Reproduction Incrementation Reinitiation
Knowledge production Subject understanding Process negotiation Context shaping
Self perception and ontological pedagogies (Danvers, 2003) Learning about Learning to become Active participation within a professional community

For example (Cochrane & Antonczak, 2015a). This framework can be applied to a variety of discipline and curriculum contexts, and integrated within an Educational Design Research methodology (EDR), as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: The intersection between mobile learning and EDR

Methodology Educational Design Research
4 stages of Learning Design Framework Informed Exploration Enactment Evaluation: Local Impact Evaluation: Broader Impact
Intersection with mobile learning MSM Framework informing curriculum redesign Activities designed using Rhizomatic Learning:

Developing an EOR

Designing Triggering Events

Participant Feedback

Informed by the scholarship of technology enhanced learning (SOTEL)
Connecting theory and practice Theory Practice Critical Reflection

Three examples:

Twitter Tales (Cochrane, 2010)

In this project we integrated Twitter as a communication and collaboration platform for an international project between students at Unitec (New Zealand), and Limerick University (Ireland). We used a Ning site as a collaborative sharing team hub, Skype for two synchronous video meetings between the two student cohorts, and Twitter for asynchronous communication across the geographic and timeZone barriers.

MLearning 2.0: Fostering International Collaboration (Cochrane et al., 2011)

In this project we designed student assessment activities around teams of social media reporters in five different countries who shared their findings of the different uses of social media in each context via Twitter, Storify, WordPress and other shared social media platforms.

Mobilising Journalism Education (Cochrane et al., 2013)

In this project we redesigned the Journalism curriculum from a traditional focus upon essays and exams to the authentic use of online eportfolios and the professional use of mobile social media.

The following table outlines examples of the changes in the assessment activities for the journalism courses:

Table 3. Comparison of original and redesigned assessment activities in Journalism Law and Ethics

Previous assessment criteria Redesigned assessment criteria
Assessment 1: Students each took part in a series of ethical scenarios through online proprietary software. They could compare their responses to other students but could not discuss these.


Assessment 1: Students in groups of three select a case that has been considered by one of the media regulators. They then present that case in full to the class using Prezi or any online presentation tool of their choice and lead a class discussion. Following the class the group members each write up the case including their response to it in a post on the WordPress blog set up for the class. All other class members comment on one of the posts.


Assessment 2: Essay of 1,500 words typed up and handed in as hard copy. Assessment 2: Essay of 1,500 words collated in and published on Storify.com and including material from at least three different social media platforms.


Assessment 3: An in-class law test. Assessment 3: An in-class law test.

This mobile social media framework was applied to updating the new media paper within the journalism curriculum. For example, the aim of the new media journalism paper was reconceptualised:

Prior course descriptor: This paper examines the digital technologies and the issues affecting journalists and online news media sites. Covers the writing, editing and site design skills relevant to online journalism, including digital photography and image editing. Involves newsgathering with the aim of publication on the course website. (Course descriptor, 2009)


Redesigned course descriptor: Students explore the unique affordances of mobile social media and establish mobile social media eportfolios that become the basis for a professional portfolio developed throughout the length of the course. Students then build upon their mobile social media portfolios to become active mobile social media content creators, collaborators and critics within the context of journalism. Students are invited to become participants within an authentic international community of practice of experts in the field of mobile social media in journalism. (Course descriptor, 2013)

Thus in the redesigned new media paper we invite students to form authentic team-based projects in which they are included as active negotiators of the project outcomes (Heutagogy). Graduates of this redesigned new media paper will be prepared to become active members of collaborative mobile social media journalism teams, both nationally and internationally (Cochrane et al., 2013).


In my role as an academic advisor my ‘students’ are effectively other academics. While I have taught courses that my ‘students’ have formally enrolled in and been assessed (Cochrane & Narayan, 2012), my predominant mode of working with academics is in a collegial collaborative partnership rather than in a formal assessment situation. Therefore my approach revolves around creating trust and a partnership through communities of practice rather than motivating my ‘students’ by formal assessment activities. By facilitating an environment that nurtures change and innovation in pedagogical strategies over a significant period of time I often see the evidence of real ontological changes in conception without the stick/carrot of formal assessment of my colleagues. Examples of these journeys of discovery are documented in several articles: (Cochrane, 2007; Cochrane & Flitta, 2009; Cochrane & Bateman, 2010)

This has led to the development of a framework for creature pedagogies that lecturers can use to help guide them in the design of authentic learning activities and assessments.

A framework provides a pragmatic link between theory and practice, creating a guide for lecturers from a range of discipline contexts to design and implement strategies for creative pedagogies that are informed by appropriate learning theories. (Cochrane & Antonczak, 2015b)


Biggs, John. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university (Second ed.). Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education.

Cochrane, Thomas. (2013). Mlearning as a catalyst for pedagogical change. In Z. Berge & L. Muilenburg (Eds.), Handbook of mobile learning (pp. 247-258): Routledge.

Cochrane, Thomas, & Antonczak, Laurent. (2015a). Designing creative learning environments. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal – IxD&A, N.24(Special issue on: Peer-to-Peer Exchange and the Sharing Economy: Analysis, Designs, and Implications), 125-144.

Cochrane, Thomas, & Antonczak, Laurent. (2015b). Connecting the theory and practice of mobile learning: A framework for creative pedagogies using mobile social media. Media Education, 6(2), 248-269.

Cochrane, Thomas, Mulrennan, Danni, Sissons, Helen, Pamatatau, Richard, & Barnes, Lyn. (2013, 4-6 July). Mobilizing journalism education. Paper presented at the International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education (ICICTE 2013), Crete, Greece.

Cochrane, Thomas, Bateman, Roger, Buchem, Ilona, Camacho, Mar, Gordon, Averill, Keegan, Helen, & Rhodes, David. (2011). Mlearning 2.0: Fostering international collaboration. In I. Candel Torres, L. Gomez Chova & A. Lopez Martinez (Eds.), Iceri2011: 4th international conference of education, research and innovations (pp. 42-51). Madrid, Spain: IATED.

Cochrane, Thomas. (2010, 5-8 December). Twitter tales: Facilitating international collaboration with mobile web 2.0. Paper presented at the Curriculum, technology & transformation for an unknown future. Proceedings 27th ASCILITE Conference, ASCILITE 2010, Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach, Sydney, Australia.

Cochrane, Thomas, & Narayan, Vickel. (2012). Defrosting professional development: Reconceptualising teaching using social learning technologies. Research in Learning Technology, 19(Supplement 1 – Proceedings of the 2011 ALT Conference), 158-169. doi: 10.3402/rlt.v19s1/7796

Cochrane, Thomas, & Bateman, Roger. (2010). A mobile learning journey: Or “a tale of two academics pedagogical partnership”. Paper presented at the The 6th International Conference on Technology , Knowledge and Society 2010, Free University, Berlin, Germany. Virtual retrieved from http://t10.cgpublisher.com/proposals/89/index_html

Cochrane, Thomas, & Flitta, Isaac. (2009, 16th to 18th November). An mlearning journey: Critical incidents in transforming pedagogy. Paper presented at the International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI2009), Madrid, Spain.

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Puentedura, R. (2006). Transformation, Technology, and Education.   Retrieved 18 February, 2013, from http://hippasus.com/resources/tte/puentedura_tte.pdf

Sternberg, R. J., Kaufman, J. C., & Pretz, J. E. (2002). The creativity conundrum: A propulsion model of kinds of creative contributions. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.