vrijdag 21 oktober 2011

What’s the added value of TPACK?

In my previous blog post I explained what TPACK is about according to my interpretation. In this post I will reflect on what I have learned so far and what the added value of TPACK is.
In my first post I wrote about flexibility. I’ve learned that flexibility isn’t only about distance. There are different kinds of flexibility, like flexibility related to content or to time. When looking at the TPACK model I can conclude that the model is flexible. There is no one right way in which the model should be used. Teachers can choose if they want to start by selecting a technology, pedagogy or content. What is important is that everything fits together in a certain context.
I also think that the TPACK model can support flexibility. I think the model can make teachers more aware of the possibilities they have to integrate technology, content and pedagogy. Using technology into the lesson has implications for the content and pedagogy. If teachers gained some experience in working with the model they probably will become more flexible in the way they teach.
My second post was about different pedagogical approaches. From writing this post I’ve learned how to combine a specific pedagogical approach with technology. I realized that the developments in technology influence the pedagogical approaches. Therefore it is possible that new pedagogies will be created. By using the TPACK model, teachers maybe will become less anxious to try new or other pedagogies. Because by using the model (in a way that everything matches together) they ensure that the lesson they create will be effective.
Koehler and Mishra (2009) describe technology not only as digital materials like mobile phones, interactive whiteboard and computers, but also as traditional materials like a chalkboard. Most teachers know how to use the traditional materials, but have problems to use the digital materials. The TPACK model can help teachers in making them more capable to also use the digital materials as well. Because, as I mentioned before, it can make teachers aware of the possibilities and the added value of different kinds of technologies.
Concluding I think the main added value of the TPACK framework is that it gives insight in the importance of integrating the three knowledge domains. The framework also provides a structured manner of thinking about your education. You can use it to design your lesson, but also to reflect on the lesson you gave.

As you may have read in my previous post I tried myself to design a lesson and think about all the aspects of the TPACK framework. I experienced myself that it’s not that easy to think about all the components separately. I think teachers also experience difficulty with thinking about their education in terms of separate knowledge domains, because when teaching they experience the impact of the big picture. Also most teachers have been provided with inadequate teacher education on this topic. Teacher education must take into account that a one size-fits-all approach to technology doesn’t work, because teachers operate in diverse contexts. Therefore I think it’s important that TPACK becomes a part of teacher training/education. But that’s not enough; also in-service teachers should know how to apply TPACK. To achieve this, the school leader should support teachers. For example by giving workshops in which they can experience themselves what the added value of TPACK is. Experiencing it yourself has a bigger impact then when someone tells you to do it. Of course this also means that the school leader gives time and provides different kinds of technologies to let the teachers practice.
What do you think is the best way to introduce TPACK to teachers?

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?      Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. 

donderdag 20 oktober 2011

Explaining TPACK; What is it?

As I mentioned in my last blog teaching requires integration of many kinds of specialized knowledge.
hat’s what TPACK (Technological Pedagogical And Content Knowledge) is about!
Koehler and Mishra (2009) developed the TPACK framework, see figure 1. The framework describes the knowledge teachers need to have to effective integrate technology into their education. The knowledge domains in the framework are: content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK) and technological knowledge (TK).
Figure 1: TPACK framework (Koehler & Mishra, 2009)

Content knowledge consists of knowledge about a certain subject that needs to be teached, like mathematics. The pedagogical knowledge consists of in-depth knowledge about educational processes and operations or methods/strategies of teaching and learning. Technological knowledge is knowledge about what kinds of technologies are available, how they work and how they can be used to make teaching more effective.
The interactions between these components of knowledge result in; pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), technological content knowledge (TCK), technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) and technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK).
Pedagogical content knowledge is knowledge about how to combine pedagogy and content in an effective way. Therefore the teacher has to know how to make the subject understandable for different types of students. Technological content knowledge is knowledge about how technology and content interact. Teachers have to know how a deeper understanding of certain content can be supported by using technology. They also have to realize that not every technology is suitable for each subject. And that it’s sometimes necessary to change the lesson/subject to make it appropriate to use technology. Technological pedagogical knowledge is the understanding of how teaching and learning changes when using technology. Teachers need to be able to use technologies in a pedagogical way. This includes knowledge of how several technological tools can support or limit certain pedagogy.
Integrating all these components results in Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. This knowledge goes beyond all three components and involves the interaction of the content, pedagogical and technological knowledge. TPACK can be seen as the basis of effective teaching with technology. Therefore the teacher has to understand the way in which these knowledge domains are related and how to keep a balance between them. As I already mentioned in my previous blog it's like the Spiderweb of Van den Akker (2003). When one of the components is changed, this has direct consequences for the other components.
To successful integrate technology in education the teacher also needs knowledge about the specific context in which learning takes place (student population, the schools infrastructure, school environment etc.), because the context can influence the integration of the technology (Voogt, Fisser & Tondeur, 2010). There is no one size-fits-all approach, because teachers operate in a diverse context. For example, certain technologies like smarphones are probably less suitable to use when teaching very young children.

An example!
Last year I followed a course called ‘Atelier 5’. In this course we created a step-by-step guide for teachers that they can use when designing a mobile learning tour. In this process we also thought about the different components of the TPACK model and what they mean in case of mobile learning.

Content knowledge – Knowledge about the subject matter.
Pedagogical knowledge – Appropriate pedagogies for mobile learning are constructivism and immersion. The knowledge concerns background information of these theories and also how to apply these theories into the classroom.
Technological knowledge – Knowledge about how to operate a smartphone and the opportunities it offers.
Pedagogical content knowledge – Knowledge about which content is appropriate to teach with mobile learning according to the pedagogical approach.
Technological content knowledge – Knowledge and skills to select applications that suit the subject of the lesson.
Technological pedagogical knowledge – Knowledge and skills to select applications that suit the pedagogy. Selecting applications that support aspects of constructivism like collaboration.

In yesterdays lecture we got the assignment to design a lesson and think about all the different aspects of the TPACK model. Unless I had a bit experience, it was quite hard to take all aspects into account. And we also realized that teachers have to be very creative to combine pedagogy, content and technology in an appropriate way.
What is your interpretation of the different components of the TPACK model? Do you agree with me or do you have another interpretation?
Please feel free to write a comment!
P.s. My next post will be about the added value of TPACK.


Akker, J. van den (2003). Curriculum perspectives: An introduction. In J. van den Akker, W. Kuiper &   U. Hameyer, Curriculum landscapes and trends. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?      Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. 
Voogt, J., Fisser, P. & Tondeur, J. (2010). Maak kennis met TPACK. Hoe kan een leraar ICT integreren   in het onderwijs? Zoetermeer: Stichting Kennisnet.

vrijdag 14 oktober 2011

Combining flexibility pedagogy and technology

On my blog I wrote about flexibility, pedagogical approaches and the use of technology. By taking a closer look you can see that these topics are all related to each other. The spiderweb of Van den Akker (2003) visualizes the relationship between different components of the curriculum, see figure 1. Changes in the core also assume changes in other areas. The metaphor of the web shows the fragile nature of a curriculum (SLO, 2009). When one of the components is changed, this has direct consequences for the other components.
Figure 1: Spiderweb (Van den Akker, 2003)

If you want to offer flexibility related to time. Then you have to make sure that the other components in the curriculum support that. For example you want to offer flexibility on when to follow a lecture. In this case it would be nice to make a video recording of the lecture and put it on Blackboard. In this way students can decide for themselves when they want to follow the lecture.
Did you note the three topics in this example?
·         Flexibility related to time.
·         Pedagogy: giving a lecture can be marked as traditional learning.
·         Technology: making a video recording.
Teachers have to make sure these three components are aligned. Therefore teaching requires integration of many kinds of specialized knowledge.
Want to know more about this knowledge? In my next blog I’ll write more about it!

Akker, J. van den (2003). Curriculum perspectives: An introduction. In J. van den Akker, W. Kuiper &   U. Hameyer, Curriculum landscapes and trends. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Nationaal expertisecentrum leerplanontwikkeling (SLO) (2009). Leerplan in ontwikkeling. Enschede: SLO.

Cool tools for schools

This week in college I got to know some cool tools for school. We got the assignment to check out some tools on the website http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/. In a group of three students we had chosen the category “Presentation tools”. From this category we all chose one tool to play with for ten minutes. After that we had al little group discussion about what the tool is about, the weaknesses and strengths of the tool and for which purpose it can be used.
I found it very nice to see what kinds of presentation tools are available. When I make a presentation I use PowerPoint or Prezi, because that are actually the only presentation tools I known. By playing with the tools I discovered that there are much more tools and most of them are free to use. Isn’t that great?! The tool that I played with is called “Photoshow”. With this tool you can make a photo presentation within a few minutes, see figure 1. You can use your own pictures and customize them by adding text, music and effects.  

Figure 1: Photoshow

I think this tool is cool to use when students went on an excursion in which they made a lot of pictures. The tool is probably less suitable when giving a lecture, because it’s aimed at showing pictures. If your purpose is to show pictures in the lecture, then it’s of course a great tool to use.

Other groups played with drawing tools, quiz and poll tools and file and storage tools. They also found some very interesting tools. For example the group that played with the drawing tools found a tool in which they can easily create and share interactive floorplans.
One group did another assignment, they played a very cool game on their mobile phones. This game is called “Seek ‘n  Spell”, http://www.seeknspell.com/.  Seek ‘n Spell is a game that can be played outside. It uses GPS to create a game in which virtual letters are scattered around an area, see figure 2. The goal is to collect this letters by walking to them and make words. By making words you earn points, the one who earns the most points wins. I think this is a really cool game to play with a group of friends. Unfortunately my phone isn’t suitable for this game. 

Figure 2: Seek 'n Spell

As you see I got to learn some cool tools during this college. By playing with these tools I realized it isn’t that hard to use new technology. Teachers are often scared to use new technology because they think they can’t handle it. I can tell you, don’t be scared, just do it! In college we discussed that it’s also possible that teachers don’t use technology because they don’t know what the possibilities are. That’s why I think schools should create a database in which tools that suit the school are available and can be shared. In this way every teacher has access and they don’t have to search the whole web looking for a tool.

maandag 10 oktober 2011

Practice your teaching by using simSchool

This week I attended a lecture in which professor Gerald Knezek gave a presentation about simSchool. simSchool is a classroom simulator that is created for educators. The simulator has the potential to change the way pre-service teachers are trained. By playing teachers can build confidence in teaching, understand students’ behavior and learning styles, and practice classroom management techniques. The simulation offers several options to choose like; the number of students in the classroom, the tasks to assign to students and the things to say to the student. By using the laptop on the desk, you can request information from each student: personality, grades and learning styles. There are four different kinds of tasks: recall task, skill/concept task, strategic thinking task and an extended thinking task. By assigning a task to a student you can see how he reacts. After quitting the simulation it is possible to view student reports in which you can see the impact of the instruction and the results of your teaching.
Everly’s bad day
Together with a classmate I run the module “Everly’s bad day”. In this module there is one student in the classroom “Everly”, see figure 1.
Figure 1: The classroom.

Everly is an on grade level student who is creative, self-confident, takes risks and likes stimulation. He is interested in new ideas and challenges, but he needs structure. When he has to work on an assignment he follows instructions and stays on task. He likes variety in tasks and interaction with the teacher and other students. By doing he learns the best.

To teach Everly we first followed a previously prepared teaching plan and after that we started experimenting by assigning different tasks and saying things to Everly.
The previously prepared teaching plan consisted of tasks that didn’t suit Everly, namely “Go over last week’s lessons”, “Take notes during lecture” and “Take an oral quiz”. These are all individual tasks and there isn’t much “learning by doing” in it. During the lesson we didn’t say anything to Everly to support or to motivate him. This first plan resulted in disappointing teaching effectiveness and student results.
After this experience we wanted to do better. Therefore we first looked on the laptop to request information about Everly’s personality and learning styles. On this basis we chose appropriate tasks. By running some teaching plans with team tasks and tasks were Everly could do something, we noticed that his happiness and academic performance increased. Also saying things to Everly to support, guide and give structure had a positive effect on his results.   

I think simSchool is a nice simulations to practice how to teach, it offers realistic situations in which knowledge has to be applied. In class teachers only have one chance, by using simSchool teachers have several chances to see which activities suits the best for which personality. For teacher training simSchool can be used as preparation for an internship. In this way students already can see how things they learned from a book or in class work out in ‘reality’. By using the simulations students can also identify patterns in their own behavior and experience the impact of their teaching in a short time. According to Cairns (1995) simulations are very effective because they provoke higher levels of arousal, motivation job involvement and problem solving. And simulations ask for perseverance and creativity.
A pity is that the simulation only covers a small part of what teaching is about. In the simulation you have no influence on how the tasks are presented. The task “Take an oral quiz” for example can be presented in many different ways, by using technology or let a student present something. There are a lot of possibilities that the simulation doesn’t take into account. It’s also not realistic that you can assign different tasks to every student. For teachers it’s impossible to suit instructions to every individual, they don’t have the time for that. The simulation also doesn’t take into account which day it is, what time (early in the morning or in the afternoon) what kind of weather, the mood of the student etc. I can imagine that students aren’t motivated when it’s 30 degrees outside and they have to listen to an instruction. We also argued that learning doesn't always have to be fun. In the simulation Everly's academic performance and happinnes increased only for certain tasks. Because you want to achieve a good score you will focus on these aspects.

Concluding, I thinks it’s a nice simulation that can be used as an introduction, but not as a replacement for an internship because it only covers a small part of the things teacher have to thinks of.
Combining pedagogies and technology
To support a pedagogy, different kinds of technology can be used. In this part there will be given a short description of several pedagogies and ways to support them with technology. Teachers almost always use a combination of pedagogies that's why different kinds of technology can be used for several pedagogies. To put ICT-applications into a lesson, the teacher should possess technical knowledge and expertise regarding the added value that ICT-applications can offer in the classroom.

Traditional learning
Traditional learning is generally teacher-centered and classical. Therefore this approach can be supported by an overhead projector, chalkboard, beamer, books etc.

Problem-based learning
Unlike traditional learning, problem-based learning is student-centered. A characteristic of problem-based learning is that students have to solve a realistic ill-defined problem in little groups. Students create their own knowledge by exchanging knowledge in the group. This should eventually result in a shared solution. This approach can be supported by many types of different technology, it depends on the situation. Like for communication MSN, Skype, Facebook and Twitter can be used. The simulation simSchool can also be used as an example of problem-based learning. As the way I used it, working in a little group to teach Everly.
Teachers almost always use a combination of pedagogies, so several technologies can be used for different kinds of pedagogies.
Inquiry learning
Like problem-based learning, inquiry learning is also student-centered. The difference is that the teacher starts with a question instead of a problem. Inquiry learning is a form of active learning, learning by doing. Students have to do research to solve the problem, by doing that they learn experimental and analytical skills. The role of the teacher can be seen as a guide. This approach can be supported by internet or online databases. Students can look up information on the internet or in the database for their research.
Project-based learning
Project-based learning is also student-centered. This approach focuses on projects that student have to work on in a group for a long time. A project consists of a problem that students have to apply to a real situation. The role of the teacher in this approach can be seen as a facilitator. Technologies that support project-based learning are similar to that of problem-based learning and collaborative learning.
Collaborative learning
In collaborative learning two or more people learn something together. By sharing knowledge in conversations and discussions the group creates ‘new’ knowledge. Technologies that can be used to support this pedagogy are MSN, Skype, Facebook, Blackboard, E-mail, Wiki, Dropbox, Mobile learning etc.
Workplace learning
We talk about workplace learning when someone is learning knowledge or skills in a formal or informal way at his workplace. This can be supported by e-learning, like an electronic learning environment. But also books, videos and simulations can be used.

Want to try out simSchool? Take a look on http://simschool.org/ , enjoy!

Cairns, K. (1995). Using Simulations to Enhance Career Education. Retrieved on 10 oktober, 2011 from http://www.counseling.org/Resources/Library/ERIC%20Digests/95-067.pdf

dinsdag 4 oktober 2011

Pedagogical approach: Inquiry learning

A research of Jarvela, Veermans and Leinonen (2008) shows the effects of computer supported inquiry learning on engagement in a literacy project. Two students participated, even thought they had very different motivational tendencies, both of them showed progressive task engagement. The results also illustrate how environments that are supported by technology can influence the way students construct their goals and activity.

I think this research is a great addition to the already existing literature on inquiry learning. Especially  in the context of pedagogical and technology-based learning environments. 

Järvelä, S., Veermans, M., & Leinonen, P. (2008). Investigating student engagement in computer
supported inquiry: a process-oriented analysis. Social psychology education, 11, 299-322. http://www.springerlink.com/content/wr815u5827105028/

maandag 3 oktober 2011

Flexible learning

Flexible learning is a movement away from a situation in which key decisions about learning dimensions are made in advance by the instructor, towards a situation where the learner has a range of options to choose (Collis & Moonen, 2001).  Learners can make choices related to time, content, entry requirements, instructional approach, and resources and delivery and logistics. In this post I will give a short description of five flexibility types that are mentioned by Collis en Moonen (2001).
Flexibility related to time


When do you want to start the course and when do you want to finish? When do you want to submit an assignment? In what tempo do you want to study? These are all questions that you can ask yourself when a teacher gives you a lot of flexibility related to time. Can you imagine a course where you don’t have strict deadlines? This might sounds great to some people, because you can study when it suits you the best and you can take an exam whenever you are ready. But the downside is that it requires a lot of discipline and ability of planning.

Flexibility related to content
What do you want to learn? Which orientation do you like, theoretical or practical? According to the content there are several aspects in which the teacher can offer flexibility. These aspects could be the topics of the course, the sequence of different parts of a course, the orientation of the course (theoretical or practical), key learning materials and assessment standards and completion requirements (Collis & Moonen, 2001). Students differ in the interest they have, needs and learning styles. Flexibility related to content can create opportunities for students. For example, if you have a practical orientation and the teacher teaches you in a theoretical manner, it’s possible that you don’t understand it. Flexibility can make sure that the orientation fits the student.
I think flexibility in the topics that you want to learn, shouldn’t be applied to a whole study or course. In my opinion there should be a general fixed base and next to that a few options to choose. Like in my bachelor program, two and half years I followed a fixed program of courses and I had a half year to follow a minor in which I could choose the courses I would like to follow. In this way you create a strong knowledge base and because of the minor you can make yourself unique.
Flexibility related to entry requirements
To participate in a course there can be fixed of flexible entry requirements. If a course has flexible entry requirements, everyone can participate in the course. Some courses require prior knowledge and therefore have entry requirements. Before I could enter the bachelor program ‘Educational Science’ I had to graduate in pre-university education. I think it’s good that courses set entry requirements, because it makes sure the instructions fits.
Flexibility related to instructional approach and resources
Would you like to work in a group or individual? Which language would like to you speak during the lectures? When you have flexibility related to instructional approach and resources, the teacher can offer you choices related to the social organization of learning. This means you can choose if you want to work individual, in a group, face-to-face etc. It’s also possible that the teacher gives you flexibility related to the language used during the course, the learning resources and the instructional organization of learning (Collis & Moonen, 2001). If you have to deal with different nationalities in a course, then it’s probably the best to talk English. In the master program that I follow people from different nationalities participate, so all the courses have a fixed language (English) that all the students understand. Like content can create opportunities for students, learning resources and instructional organization can also. Students can choose what fits their learning style the best.
Flexibility related to delivery and logistics
When and where will contact with instructor and other student occur? This could be the same place, the same time every week (fixed) or whenever you want to (flexible).  The technology to communicate and the way to get course information can also be flexible. When a teacher gives flexibility related to technology to communicate, it would be possible to go on a holiday and still keep in touch by using Skype. Skype is an online technology which you can use to call people all over the world. It’s also possible to see each other by using a webcam.  Skype is great to use when the teacher wants to integrate a guest lecture from someone abroad.
Another technology that I found that supports flexibility is Prezi. Prezi Meeting allows you to edit and create prezis with others in real time whether you're in the same room or on the other side of the World. On this website http://prezi.com/index/ you can find more information. I think it’s a very nice tool. What do you think?
As the above descriptions may have made a little clear, I think students should not have too much flexibility. Flexibility requires a lot discipline and planning ability of the student, not every student is capable to do so. Do you agree with me or what is your opinion? I’m very curious so please let me know J!

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001). Flexible learning; it’s not just about distance. In J. Moonen (Ed.), Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations (chapter 1). London: Kogan Page