Classroom Orchestration


Contributor: Jennifer Olsen

In the Learning Sciences community, the multi-tasking role of the teacher has received more attention recently, especially with the use of technology-enhanced collaborative learning in classrooms. In the classroom, teachers have to orchestrate both the interactions that happen within an activity, the micro-script, and the overall sequence of activities that can occur at the whole class, group, and individual levels, the macro-script. Orchestration, in the widest definition, entails the design of the learning activity, the adaption and planning of the activity for a specific class, and the real-time management of that activity across multiple planes and under multiple constraints. These constraints include both internal constraints of student learning and external constraints of the classroom, such as class length. In classroom orchestration, the importance of these external constraints to designing and supporting productive learning is emphasized. Additionally, multi-planes are important for classroom orchestration because much of the difficulty of orchestration comes into play when transitioning between planes, which creates the need for coordination between students. Although switching social planes raises orchestration issues, they can lead to enriched scenarios with learning activities inspired by multiple learning theories that are not mutually exclusive in practice. Furthermore, the use of multiple social planes can allow for pedagogical designs where one activity is used to foster richness in the next activity.

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Video Resources

Listen to the Classroom Orchestration webinar

Introduction to Classroom Orchestration

It is recommended that the participants watch the video recording of Pierre Dillenbourg’s keynote at ICLS 2012 (available in the videos above). Transcript:

  • Dillenbourg, P. (2012). Classroom Orchestration: Interweaving Digital and Physical Workflows. In J. van Aalst, K. Thompson, M. J. Jacobson & P. Reimann (Eds.), The future of learning: Proceedings of the 10th international conference of the learning sciences (ICLS 2012) – Volume 2, short papers, symposia, and abstracts (p. 4). Sydney, Australia: ISLS.


  • Balaam, M. (2013). A Part Practical and Part Conceptual Response to Orchestration. Computers & Education, 69, 517–519. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.009]
  • Chan, T.-W. (2013). Sharing sentiment and wearing a pair of ‘field spectacles’ to view classroom orchestration. Computers & Education, 69, 514–516. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.011]
  • Dillenbourg, P. (2013). Design for classroom orchestration. Computers & Education, 69, 485–492. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.013]
  • Dimitriadis, Y., Prieto, L. P., & Asensio-Pérez, J. I. (2013). The role of design and enactment patterns in orchestration: Helping to integrate technology in blended classroom ecosystems. Computers & Education, 69, 496–499. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.004]
  • Kollar, I., & Fischer, F. (2013). Orchestration is nothing without conducting – But arranging ties the two together!: A response to Dillenbourg (2011). Computers & Education, 69, 507–509. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.008]
  • Looi, C.-K., & Song, Y. (2013). Orchestration in a networked classroom: Where the teacher’s real-time enactment matters. Computers & Education, 69, 510–513. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.005]
  • Nussbaum, M., & Diaz, A. (2013). Classroom logistics: Integrating digital and non-digital resources. Computers & Education, 69, 493–495. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.012]
  • Perrotta, C., & Evans, M. A. (2013). Orchestration, power, and educational technology: A response to Dillenbourg. Computers & Education, 69, 520–522. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.007]
  • Prieto, L. P., Holenko 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.
  • Roschelle, J., Dimitriadis, Y., & Hoppe, U. (2013). Classroom orchestration: Synthesis. Computers & Education, 69, 523–526. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.010]
  • Sharples, M. (2013). Shared orchestration within and beyond the classroom. Computers & Education, 69, 504–506. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.014]
  • Tchounikine, P. (2013). Clarifying design for orchestration: Orchestration and orchestrable technology, scripting and conducting. Computers & Education, 69, 500–503. [DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.006]

Learning Scientists Who Have Researched This Topic

  • Juan Asensio-Perez
  • Pierre Dillenbourg
  • Yannis Dimitriadis
  • Davinia Hernandez-Leo
  • Roberto Martinez-Maldonado
  • Juan Munoz-Cristobal
  • Luis Prieto