donderdag 10 november 2011

TPACK Master course: my students about TPACK

During the past couple of weeks my students and I worked on "Pedagogies for Flexible Learning supported by Technology", which can roughly be translated as TPACK.. After the lectures about Flexibility, Pedagogy and Technology we combined everything together and discussed the TPACK model. After this lecture the students had to post a message on their weblog in which they explain TPACK in their own words and reflect on the added value of TPACK. My students came up with some interesting thoughts and I will try to summarize them here.

Positive aspects of the TPACK framework and model
  • The TPACK model makes teachers realize that you cannot just put content, pedagogy and technology together, but that it is really necessary to consider how to combine these three and think about the consequences of the choices you make. It makes you conscious about the connections between the several components. Or, as one of the students wrote "I was often trapped to learn more about how to work with the technologies rather than examining whether it is best suited or not with my lesson." And an other student wrote "It helps you to think explicitly about integration when designing a lesson and it gives you something to hold on when designing a lesson". 
  • The TPACK model is useful for teachers because it is viewed from a teacher’s perspective and it helps teachers to think in a structured way about their teaching. The model is based upon the model of Shulman (1986) on PCK. The refleciton of one of the students: "I think that a lot of teachers can relate to this model, because they understand how important it is that the pedagogy and the content is integrated with each other. Also, teachers learn in teacher training that they should build upon prior knowledge. So they also like to learn new aspects based on their own prior knowledge, this way it is less ‘invasive’ then a model that they can’t relate to.". 
  • TPACK is also closely related with teachers’ creativity. It is not merely about thinking out of the box with astonishing or unique thought or idea, but also how useful the idea is. When teachers decide to use the TPACK model they are free to use their creativity. I think for more experienced technology users this is an advantage of the model. The model gives them a structure to hold on while designing a lesson, but does not prescribe everything in detail. 
  • Many students believe that TPACK should be introduced in teacher training. They indicate that we know that technology will keep changing. The elderly teachers didn’t get the opportunity to learn about technology during their own training. By introducing this model to teacher training they get familiar with the model and will use it when they start teaching. The pre-service teachers will become aware of the advantages and disadvantages of certain technologies and pedagogies. Teachers who become convenient with using different technologies and pedagogies for certain content teaching might become more flexible in using different approaches in teaching. This might increase student-centered, technology rich classrooms and flexibility in learning. 
  • The element of context is an important aspect of TPACK. It considers that the educational context has a big influence on the implementation of TPACK. For instance, one of the students observed that "TPACK is not only owned by teachers in well developed countries where the framework is developed, but also owned by teachers in other third-world countries".

Some pitfalls
Several reflections were made about how to use the model. One of the students indicates that "The model does not indicate the process in the technology integration." and another student: "The model does not prescribe how teachers should use technology in their own practice, since there is no one best way of working. Instead it provides teachers with tools how to design a lesson and the aspects they need to think about.". This particular student sees this as a positive aspect of the TPACK model. On the other hand an other student wrote "The model itself does not prescribe what is good and what is wrong. When teachers use the model, they have to find additional information about integrating technology in the right way. For example information about which pedagogy fits with which technology. That can be discouraging for less experienced teachers or teachers who never worked before with the model.". An other student makes a remark that is linked with this: "How does a teacher now that he has created a good lesson with TPACK? I think that this seems to be a bit of a paradox, because the TPACK model itself seems to be a very stable and directing model". I think that this is one of the reasons that some students indicate that before teachers can use this framework they should learn more about it. This can be done during pre-service training, but also in professional development programs. But, as written by one of the students, "TPACK it is not just a guideline which contains all the possible answers. It is also not a simple model with phases you can follow.".

One of the students (who is also a teacher and has some experience with ICT-integration) offers an other way of thinking about TPACK development: "Maybe TPACK is a framework of the knowledge teacher should have and not a tool for professional development of teachers. Niess et. al. (2009) describe a development model of the TPACK framework with 5 stages of integrating technology into PCK:
  1. Recognizing: teachers are able to work with technology and recognize the alignment of the technology with the subject area. The teachers do not integrate the technology in the lessons.
  2. Accepting: Teachers develop an attitude about using technology within the subject area.
  3. Adapting: teacher enact in activities that lead to a choice to adapt or reject teaching with technologies.
  4. Exploring: teachers explore the possibilities of integrating technology in the lessons. They actively experiment with using technology.
  5. Advancing: Teachers evaluate the results of the decision to integrate technologies.
The model of Niess et. al. (2009) might give more opportunities to think about the integration of ICT more as a process."

TPACK and the Curricular Spiderweb
During the study on Educational Science and Technology at the University of Twente each student learns about the "Curricular Spiderweb" (Van den Akker, 2003). 
The spiderweb illustrates the inter-connectedness of curriculum components and the vulnerability of the structure that connects them. At the core of the model is the rationale, through which all other components are connected: aims and objectives; content; learning activities; teacher role; materials and resources; grouping; location; time; assessment. The metaphor of the spiderweb emphasizes that within one curriculum the component accents may vary over time, but that any shift in balance will pull the whole "spiderweb" out of alignment. 

Some students indicated that the TPACK model is similar to the metaphor of the curricular spiderweb: by changing technology, everything else changes or in other words if you want to change something you have to address not only what you want to change, but you also have to think about the effect this has on other elements of the curriculum.

My students about TPACK...
I think my students did a very nice job in reflecting on the model. They can explain the model, those students who are teachers can reflect on their own practice based on the model and all students have some ideas about what it means to integrate ICT in teaching and learning. And even though I explicitly asked for ideas on the added value of TPACK, most of them were critical enough to say something about the implications, difficulties and drawbacks of the model. If you want to read their complete reflections, please visit their blogs! You can find these blogs on the right side of this blog.

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