vrijdag 22 oktober 2010

Integrating technology: "just try it"!

An article which I have read a couple of weeks ago (and also showed to my students) keeps popping up in my mind.. it's the article of Mary Burns about "The 5J approach". As many articles that have been published recently the topic is difficulties that teachers face when integrating technology into classroom learning. The author of this article indicates that one cause of this difficulty seems to be the types of technology-related professional development teachers receive (still too focused on learning how to use the software instead of integrating it into someone's own teaching and learning process). And this is not a new message. We know that teachers are using technology, but this use is often related to administration, preparation of documents or displaying a presentation. Using technology as a learning tool for students is a different and more difficult thing. And we still have not figured out why this is the way it is.

In the mean time many researchers (including me and my colleagues) are trying to find out a) why teachers still have difficulties with integrating technology and b) if (if!) we find the answer to this: how can we really help them to integrate the technology in such a way that both teachers and students can benefit from it.

At the moment we are trying to find out if the TPACK framework can be of assistance in this and it looks promising. But it might be interesting to see if we can use the 5J's too. The 5J's stands for technology professional development which is:
  • job-related, focused on the core competencies of the classroom, not technology
  • just enough, emphasizing increased comfort, not proficiency, with computers and management of limited technology resources
  • just in time, meaning teacher are provided with skills as and when needed
  • just in case teachers need to plan for contingencies
  • accompanied by a "just try it" attitude, wherein instructors apply both pressure and support to compel teachers to use what they've learned.
The first time I saw this list I was triggered by the fifth J: Just try it. And if you look at what the author is writing, she is saying that this J might be the most important of all J's. She states that "central to change is action, and this is where professional development often breaks down. [...] Without application in the classroom, professional development is a waste of time, money, and effort." It is argued in the article that "Only when these five 'J's come together in a systematic way might the story of technology-based trainings have a different ending."
Figure 1: Proposed visual of the 5J model

I tried to put this in a figure (I like visual representations..) that is similar to the TPACK circles. Following the arguements in the article of Mary Burns we should pay attention to all 5 J's in order to have a succesfull technology-based training.

But I propose an alternative.. My suggestion is to support teachers by paying attention to job-related, just enough, just in time and just in case in combination with a little bit more attention to linking this with pedagogy and content (and thereby emphasising the job-related component?) and placing the "just try it" in the middle of the figure like this:
Figure 2: Alternative visual of the 5J model

It is my hope that by paying sufficient (and what is sufficient?..) attention to the other 4 Js, the teacher should be encouraged enough to try things out in his or her classroom.

And yes.. I am also "just trying".. I realise that the overlapping circles are not really the right way to visualise it, because what would be the overlap between job-related and just enough and between all the other components?

But if you have any ideas about the 5 J's, please let me know!

donderdag 21 oktober 2010

ISSOTL2010: Technology-Supported Reflection in Kuwait

This morning I presented Abdullah Almodaires' work that he carried out during his PhD study. Abdullah's study was about Technology-Supported Reflection in Kuwait. He implemented a new way of supporting field training activities for prospective primary school teachers. A big challenge.. not only did he propose to use a new pedagogical approach, he also introduced new technology to support this. In order to reduce the gap between what students theoretically learn at the university and what they have to do in the schools when they are teaching he did an experiment in which he introduced the reflective practice approach and supported this with an online video-based learning environment. If you are interested in this you can read his dissertation and/or look at the presentation of this morning:

maandag 18 oktober 2010

TPACK according to... my students!

During the last couple of days my students from the Master program Curriculum Instruction and Media Applications (CIMA) have been writing about TPACK. And... they surprised me (positively)! I already noticed in their previous posts on their blogs that they are taking blogging very seriously and that they don't "just say something", but they are really reflecting ont he topics that we discuss during the lectures. They are not only repeating theory, they are also adding own information, experiences, links to other websites and some of them make their own pictures to support their ideas with visuals. This is also true about their ideas on TPACK. Most of them like the TPACK model and the ideas behind it, but they also recognize that TPACK is not something that a teacher automatically incorporates in his or her regular teaching activities. I can really recommend reading the blogs! You can find them on the right side of this blog.. Enjoy!

woensdag 6 oktober 2010

Pedagogy and technology

Last week my course was all about pedagogical approaches and this week it's all about technology. You can follow the ideas of my students on their own blogs (see the menu on the rigt side of this blog).

During the past week the students had to post something on different pedagogical approaches and about the way these approaches can be supported by a web-based learning environment. From traditional learning to problem-based and collaborative learning and inquiry and experiential learning, many approaches are mentioned and described. But... most of them from the viewing point of a student. But what about the teacher? Should he/she be able to choose a certain approach based on the topic, audience, assignment, etc., and do this for every teaching or learning activity? Maybe yes, but we know (and I as a teacher know) from practice that you usually choose something that you are familiar with.

Probably the same can be said about the technologies that teachers use. Most of us will use some kind of web-based learning environment such as Blackboard, Teletop or Moodle, just because it's there and the university requires us to use it. Generally speaking (with of course some wonderful exceptions!) within these learning environments nothing really exciting happens. We use announcements and course information and we provide students with a schedule and deadlines for assignments.

To show the students that it is possible to "think out of the box" I let them play with my GPS, Nintendo DS, a camera, and one group played an online game. They had to play a little bit with the technology and after that think about how this "toy" can be used in education and what this means for students and teachers. Most students agreed that students would be very happy to use the technology, but when thinking about the implications for the teachers most comments were related to logistics (the technology has to be there, you have to have time in your curriculum, you have to keep an eye on the students) and to the (low) knowledge, skills and attitude of the teacher. None of the comments were related to pedagogy and only a few were related to the content of a specific course.

This is not surprinsing by the way! First of all I did not ask them to think about the relation between technology, pedagogy and content. And second: for many of them the technology was regarded as a "new" technology for teaching. Getting used to a new technology takes time, getting used to using a new technology in education takes even more time. And... yes... that's where TPACK comes in. As of next week we will discuss the TPACK model in my course and we will discuss how teachers can develop Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and what we (as Educational Science and Technology people) can do to support the teachers in acquiring this knowlegde!