Vocational education approach: New TEL settings—new prospects for teachers’ instructional activities?

  • Raija HämäläinenEmail author
  • Bram De Wever


This study focuses on vocational education teachers’ instructional activities in a new technology-enhanced learning (TEL) setting. A content analysis is applied to investigate teachers’ and students’ interactions in a 3D game context. The findings illustrate that when teachers’ and students’ interactions are mediated by a game, teachers seem to apply different discussion activities to empower vocational learning than they do in traditional classroom settings. Additionally, the present study shows that teachers spontaneously develop new ways of supporting vocational learning processes. In more detail, two main types of instructional activities were identified: a “knowledge-providing” approach and a “joint problem-solving” approach. Additionally, findings illustrate how teachers using different types of instructional approaches are followed up with different processes by students. The article is concluded with a general discussion of the emerging challenges regarding the technological and pedagogical development of vocational education and teachers’ instructional activities in new TEL settings based on a more long-term design-based research project (ongoing since 2004).


Vocational education Teachers’ instructional activities 3D game Design-based research 



This research was supported by the Academy of Finland (Project 258659). The development of the 3D environment was supported by the EU Structural Funds and nationally by the State Provincial Office of Western Finland from the administrative sector of the Ministry of Education. Special thanks to Kimmo Oksanen, Hanna Laakso, Maarit Arvaja, Mikko Niilo-Rämä, Antero Malin, Ludocraft Ltd, Äänekoski College and Jyväskylä College for their content expertise, excellent ideas, and smooth cooperation.


  1. Arvaja, M. (2007). Contextual perspective in analyzing collaborative knowledge construction of two small groups in web-based discussion. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 2(2/3), 133–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arvaja, M. (2012). Personal and shared experiences as resources for meaning making in a philosophy of science course. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(1), 85–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baartman, L. K. J., & de Bruijn, E. (2011). Integrating knowledge, skills, and attitudes: Conceptualizing learning processes towards vocational competence. Educational Research Review, 6(2), 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barab, S. A., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beers, P. J., Boshuizen, H. P. A., Kirschner, P. A., & Gijselaers, W. H. (2007). The analysis of negotiation of common ground in CSCL. Learning and Instruction, 17(4), 427–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bell, P. (2004). On the theoretical breadth of design-based research in education. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 243–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berelson, B. (1952). Content analysis in communication research. Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bouta, H., Retalis, S., & Paraskeva, F. (2012). Utilizing a collaborative macro-script to enhance student engagement: A mixed method study in a3D Virtual Environment. Computers in Education, 58(1), 501–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, A., & Campione, J. (1994). Guided discovery in a community of learners. In K. McGilly (Ed.), Classroom lessons: Integrating cognitive theory and classroom practice (pp. 227–270). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan, C. K. K. (2011). Bridging research and practice: Implementing and sustaining knowledge building in Hong Kong classrooms. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 6(1), 147–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chi, M. T. H. (1997). Quantifying qualitative analyses of verbal data: A practical guide. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(3), 271–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crook, C., Harrison, C., Farrington-Flint, L., Tomás, C., & Underwood, J. (2010). Impact 09: Final report. Coventry: Becta.Google Scholar
  14. Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. de Bruijn, E., & Leeman, Y. (2011). Authentic and self-directed learning in vocational education: challenges to vocational educators. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(4), 694–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. De Jong, T., & van Joolingen, W. R. (1998). Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations of conceptual domains. Review of Educational Research, 68(2), 179–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Laat, M., & Lally, V. (2004). It’s not so easy: Researching the complexity of emergent participant roles and awareness in asynchronous networked learning discussions. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20(3), 165–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. De Wever, B., Schellens, T., Valcke, M., & Van Keer, H. (2006). Content analysis schemes to analyze transcripts of online asynchronous discussion groups: A review. Computers in Education, 46(1), 6–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. De Wever, B., Van Keer, H., Schellens, T., & Valcke, M. (2007). Applying multilevel modeling to content analysis data: Methodological issues in the study of role assignment in asynchronous discussion groups. Learning and Instruction, 17(4), 436–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. De Wever, B., Van Keer, H., Schellens, T., & Valcke, M. (2010). Structuring asynchronous discussion groups: Comparing scripting by assigning roles with regulation by cross-age peer tutors. Learning and Instruction, 20(5), 349–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. deNoyelles, & Seo, K. K.-J. (2012). Inspiring equal contribution and opportunity in a 3D multi-user virtual environment: Bringing together men gamers and women non-gamers in second Life. Computers in Education, 58(1), 21–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dillenbourg, P. (2012). Classroom orchestration: Interweaving digital and physical workflows. Keynote speaker lecture presented to a 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences - The Future of Learning. Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  24. Dillenbourg, P., Järvelä, S., & Fischer, F. (2009). The evolution of research on computer-supported collaborative learning: From design to orchestration. In N. Balacheff, S. Ludvigsen, T. de Jong, T. A. Lazonder, & S. Barnes (Eds.), Technology enhanced learning: Principles and products (pp. 3–19). Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dillenbourg, P., Dimitriadis, Y., Nussbaum, M., Roschelle, J., Looi, C.K., Asensio, J.I., et al. (2013, in press). Design for Classroom Orchestration. Computers & Education, doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.026.
  26. Dimitriadis, Y. A., (2010). Supporting teachers in orchestrating CSCL classrooms. In A. Jimoyiannis (Ed.), 7th Pan-Hellenic Conference with International Participation ICT in Education (vol.I, pp.33-40). Korinthos, Greece.Google Scholar
  27. Dochy, F., Moerkerke, G., & Segers, M. (1999). The effect of prior knowledge on learning in educational practice: Studies using prior knowledge state assessment. Evaluation & Research in Education, 13(3), 345–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Do-Lenh, S., Jermann, P., Arn, C., Zufferey G.. & Dillenbourg P., (2011). Classroom-experience evaluation: Evaluating pervasive technologies in a classroom setting. In Child Computer Interaction: Workshop on UI Technologies and Their Impact on Educational Pedagogy, the ACM International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 11). Retrieved from 16.4.2013
  29. Eurydice report from European Commission. (2012). European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2012. Developing key competences at school in Europe: Challenges and opportunities for policy – 2011/12. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  30. Fischer, F., Kollar, I., Haake, J. M., & Mandl, H. (2007). Scripting computer-supported collaborative learning. In F. Fischer, I. Kollar, H. Mandl, & J. M. Haake (Eds.), Education (Vol. 6, pp. 1–10). Boston: Springer US. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-36949-5.Google Scholar
  31. Fominykh, M., & Prasolova-Forland, E. (2012). Educational visualizations in 3D collaborative virtual environments: A methodology. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 9(1), 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hämäläinen, R. (2008). Designing and evaluating collaboration in a virtual game environment for vocational learning. Computers in Education, 50(1), 98–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hämäläinen, R. (2011). Using a game environment to foster collaborative learning: a design-based study. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 61–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hämäläinen, R., & Oksanen, K. (2012). Challenge Of Supporting Vocational Learning: Empowering Collaboration In A Scripted 3D Game – How Does Teachers’ Real-Time Orchestration Make A Difference? Computers in Education, 59(2), 281–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hämäläinen, R., & Vähäsantanen, K. (2011). Theoretical and pedagogical perspectives on orchestrating creativity and collaborative learning. Educational Research Review, 6(3), 169–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Herrmann, T., & Kienle, A. (2008). Context-oriented communication and the design of computer supported discursive learning. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3(3), 273–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Huang, H.-M., Rauch, U., & Liaw, S.-S. (2010). Investigating learners' attitudes toward virtual reality learning environments: Based on a constructivist approach. Computers in Education, 55(3), 1171–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel. (2011). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report of an expert panel. Washington: Interprofessional Education Collaborative. Retrieved from 4.12.2012.Google Scholar
  39. John-Steiner, V. (2000). Creative collaboration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kapur, M., & Kinzer, C. K. (2008). Productive failure in CSCL groups. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1), 21–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kiili, C. (2012). Online reading as an individual and social practice. Jyväskylä, Finland: Jyväskylän yliopisto. Jyväskylä studies in education, psychology and social research, 441. Retrieved from 9.12.2012.
  42. Knezek, G., & Christensen, R. (1998, March). Internal consistency reliability for the teachers' attitudes toward information technology (TAT) questionnaire. In S. McNeil, J. Price, S. Boger-Mehall, B. Robin, & J. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of the Society for Information Technology in Teacher Education Annual Conference (pp. 831–836).Google Scholar
  43. Kobbe, L., Weinberger, A., Dillenbourg, P., Harrer, A., Hämäläinen, R., Häkkinen, P., et al. (2007). Specifying computer-supported collaboration scripts. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 2(2/3), 211–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kreijns, K., Vermeulen, M., Kirschner, P., van Buuren, H., & Van Acker, F. (2013). Adopting the Integrative Model of Behaviour Prediction to explain teachers’ willingness to use ICT: a perspective for research on teachers’ ICT usage in pedagogical practices. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 22(1), 55–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Beverly Hills: Sage, 852 Publications.Google Scholar
  46. Looi, C.-K., So, H.-J., Toh, Y., & Chen, W. (2011). The Singapore experience: Synergy of national policy, classroom practice and design research. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 6(1), 9–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lund, A., & Smørdal, O. (2006). Is there a space for the teacher in a Wiki? Paper presented at The 2006 International Symposium on Wikis, August 21–23, 2006, Odense, Denmark. Retrieved August 19, 2011 from
  48. Mercer, N., Hennessy, S., & Warwick, P. (2010). Using interactive whiteboards to orchestrate classroom dialogue. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 19(2), 195–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miell, D., & Littleton, K. (2004). Collaborative creativity: Contemporary perspectives. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  50. Minnaert, A. M., Boekaerts, M., De Brabander, C., & Opdenakker, M. C. (2011). Students’ experiences of autonomy, competence, social relatedness, and interest within a CSCL environment in vocational education: The case of commerce and business administration. Vocations and Learning, 4(3), 175–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Moscovici, S., & Doise, W. (1994). Conflict and consensus: A general theory of collective decisions. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  52. Motta, E., Boldrini, E., & Cattaneo, A. (2012). Technologies to "bridge the gap" among learning contexts in vocational training. In P. M. Pumilia-Gnarini, E. Favaron, E. Pacetti, J. Bishop, & L. Guerra (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Didactic Strategies and Technologies for Education: Incorporating Advancements (pp. 247–265). Hershey: IGI Global.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mu, J., Stegmann, K., Mayfield, E., Rosé, C., & Fischer, F. (2012). The ACODEA framework: Developing segmentation and classification schemes for fully automatic analysis of online discussions. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(2), 285–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. National qualification requirements for vocational education and training. (2010). Retrieved 4/23, 2013, from
  55. Neuendorf, K. A. (2002). The Content Analysis Guidebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  56. Onrubia, J., & Engel, A. (2012). The role of teacher assistance on the effects of a macro-script in collaborative writing tasks. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(1), 161–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Paloniemi, S., & Collin, K. (2012). Discursive power and creativity in inter-professional work. Vocations and Learning, 5(1), 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pérez-Sanagustín, M., Santos, P., Hernández-Leo, D., & Blat, J. (2012). 4SPPIces: A case study of factors in a scripted collaborative-learning blended course across spatial locations. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(3), 443–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Peterson, M. (2010). Learner participation patterns and strategy use in "Second Life": An exploratory case study. ReCALL, 22(3), 273–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pillen, M., Beijaard, D., & den Brok, P. (2012). Tensions in beginning teachers’ professional identity development, accompanying feelings and coping strategies. European Journal of Teacher Education. iFirst Article.Google Scholar
  61. Price, S., Rogers, Y., Stanton, D., & Smith, H. (2003). A new conceptual framework for CSCL: supporting diverse forms of reflection through multiple interactions. In B. Wasson, S. Ludvigsen, U. Hoppe, Designing for change in networked learning environments. Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning. (pp. 513–523). Bergen: InterMedia.Google Scholar
  62. Prieto, L. P., Dlab, M., Gutiérrez, I., Abdulwahed, M., & Balid, W. (2011). Orchestrating technology enhanced learning: A literature review and a conceptual framework. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 3(6), 583–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Salonen, J., Nykänen, O., Ranta, P., Nurmi, J., Helminen, M., Rokala, M., et al. (2011). An implementation of a semantic, web-based virtual machine laboratory prototyping environment. In The semantic web – ISWC 2011, lecture notes in computer science, Vol. 7032/2011, pp. 221–236.Google Scholar
  64. Sawyer, R. K. (2004). Creative Teaching: Collaborative discussion as disciplined improvisation. Educational Researcher, 33(3), 12–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sawyer, R. K., & DeZutter, S. (2009). Distributed creativity: How collective creations emerge from collaboration. Journal of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(2), 81–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schlager, M., & Fusco, J. (2004). Teacher professional development, technology, and communities of practice: Are we putting the cart before the horse? In S. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 120–153). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stahl, G. (2010). Guiding group cognition in CSCL. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 5(3), 255–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stein, M. K., Engle, R. A., Smith, M. S., & Hughes, E. K. (2008). Orchestrating productive mathematical discussions: Five practices for helping teachers move beyond show and tell. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 10, 313–340. 30.11.2012 Retrieved from: Scholar
  69. Strijbos, J. W., Martens, R. L., Prins, F. J., & Jochems, W. M. G. (2006). Content analysis: What are they talking about? Computers in Education, 46(1), 29–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Underwood, J., & Dillon, G. (2011). Chasing dreams and recognizing realities: Teachers’ responses to about technology use in an elementary school in ICT. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(3), 317–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Underwood, J., Smith, H., Luckin, R., & Fitzpatrick, G. (2008). E-Science in the classroom - Towards viability. Computers in Education, 50(2), 535–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Vähäsantanen, K., & Eteläpelto, A. (2011). Vocational teachers’ pathways in the course of a curriculum reform. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(3), 291–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Virtanen, A., Tynjälä, P., & Collin, K. (2009). Characteristics of workplace learning among Finnish vocational students. Vocations and Learning, 2(3), 153–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Vosniadou, S. I., Ioannides, C., Dimitrakopoulou, A., & Papademetriou, E. (2001). Designing learning environments to promote conceptual change in science. Learning and Instruction, 11(4), 281–419.Google Scholar
  75. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind and society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Webb, N. (2009). The teacher’s role in promoting collaborative dialogue in the classroom. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Webb, N. M., Franke, M. L., Ing, M., Chan, A., De, T., Freund, D., et al. (2008). The role of teacher instructional practices in student collaboration. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33(3), 360–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wegerif, R. (2007). Dialogic education and technology. New York: Springer Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc. and Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finnish Institute for Educational ResearchUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Department of Educational StudiesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations