“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

CEP 812 – Solving Well-Structured Problems

on July 1, 2014

In CEP 812 this week, the focus was on different types of problems that are faced in the classroom. Problems generally fit into three categories: well-structured (one best solution), complex (more than one solution or approach), and wicked problems (no one best solution/”unsolvable”).

My assignment for Week 1 was to take a problem faced in my classroom and to use a technological tool to help address the problem. I chose the well-structured problem of learning the routes of European explorers. Though this topic is straightforward and has only one correct answer (as there can be only one correct departure location for Columbus), the topic is a dry one and is not of much interest to my students.

My solution? A free online tool called Scribble Maps. Using this tool, students can place markers chronologically on a map, add text boxes, and draw lines to show routes. The tool is user-friendly and easy to edit if mistakes are made. Check out my screencast for a 3-minute demonstration of using Scribble Maps to document the first voyage of Columbus.


Duffy, T.M., & Jonassen, D.H. (1992). Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Fosnot, C.T. (1996). Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) (pp. 3–29). New York: Routledge.

Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning and values. New York: Ablex Publishing.

Mehan, H. (1979). Learning lessons. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

New Media Consortium (2013). The Horizon Project. Retrieved from

NGAC, & CCSSO. (2010). Common core state standards for English language arts & history/social studies, science & technical subjects. Washington, DC. Retrieved from

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2012). The Skills. Retrieved from

Rittel, H. & Weber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155-169.

Spiro, R.J., Coulson, R.L., Feltovich, P.J. & Anderson, D.K. (2004). Cognitive flexibility theory: Advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains. In R.B. Ruddell, N.J. Unrau (Eds). Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading (5th Ed., pp 640-659). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Tobias, S. & Duffy, M. (2009). Constructivist instruction: Success or failure? New York: Routledge.




One response to “CEP 812 – Solving Well-Structured Problems

  1. seremji1 says:

    Nice screencast! The tool scribble maps looks really neat, it was a new tool to me so of course I had to go check it out. I love how many symbol choices there are. You could really use this tool for so many different things. I imagine using it to teach students about communities and having them find and label their local attractions (i.e. their favorite restaurant, their home, etc.) I think you are correct in your thinking that this kind of tool could really help engage your students to learn this rather “dry” material.
    Nice job on the screen cast as well. I really liked how you walked us through the steps of how you would create it. I would have loved to see some more of the other options within the tool though as well, such as what all the other buttons do! Overall, great job! I think you are really using this tool well to help solve your specific problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: