dinsdag 25 oktober 2011


This week I will write about TPACK. TPACK is a model designed for teachers to help them integrate technology into their teaching. First I will explain the TPACK model (Koehler & Mishra, 2009) and then I will reflect on the model.
There are a couple of dimensions in TPACK, in the model you see three circles that overlap each other and a bleu circle around these three circles. The three circles in the middle are circles that the teacher can influence, the bleu circle around is the context of the school. First I’m going to explain the three circles in the middle.
TPACK stands for Technology, pedagogy and content knowledge. It is a model used in education to show how to integrate technology.
TK in TPACK stands for Technology Knowledge: The TK is knowledge about when to uses which kind of technology and how to use this kind of technology.
P in TPACK stands for Pedagogy Knowledge:
The PK is about the way the teacher educates. There are many different learning styles and a teacher can work with different insights. Examples of different pedagogies are problem based learning and inquiry learning.
CK in TPACK stands for Content Knowledge:
The CK is about the 'what'. It is about what the students should learn, which subjects and which domains of the subject. So for example it is not only about the subject geography but also what domains of geography should be included.
The model is based upon the older model of Shulman (1986) that show how important it is to integrate the pedagogy with the content, as shown on the left. The kind of pedagogy that the teacher uses is dependent on the content that the teacher is using. These depend on each other so it is a different pedagogy for a different kinds of content. The knowledge that the teacher uses to implement this kind of teaching is called Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). This kind of knowledge is used if the teacher interprets the content and can represent it in multiple ways, so using different kind of pedagogies.
The TPack model ads another aspect, Technology Knowledge (TK). Due to adding only one aspect, there are more knowledge aspects that the teacher has to possess to integrate these aspects. These different knowledge aspect are: Technical Content Knowledge (TCK), Technical Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) and final Technical Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). 
TCK is about how the technology can support and improve the content. The technology can be different within different subjects, but also within different phases in the line of learning of a content.
TPK is about how the technology supports and improves the pedagogy, different kinds of technologies can be used for different pedagogies or different phases within the lesson.
The teacher first has to know the three different aspects of CK, PK and TK apart from each other and then learn how to integrate these with each other, to improve the effectiveness of the lesson and thereby the efficiency. Then the teacher can use TPACK in his teaching. TPACK means that the teacher integrates all of these different kinds of knowledge in his teaching. During the preparation of the lessons, the teacher has to think of ways how technology can improve the learning outcome about the content that he is teaching within a specific pedagogy. I will come back to this in the reflection on TPACK.
Around the TPACK model there is a blue circle, this is the context. The context is the environment where the TPACK model is implemented. A teacher can think of a wonderful lesson, that includes all of the aspect of TPACK’s inner three circles, but if the school where the teacher works doesn’t have the resources he can’t give the lesson. Context is important in every lesson, based upon TPACK or not, the context has a big influences on the possibilities and the restrictions of teaching.

Reflection on TPACK:
Integrating technology into school and learning isn’t new, since computers were of a decent size that they could fit into a classroom they have been integrated into the school interior. Unfortunately in most cases, this is were integration stopped. A lot of should use technology in some kind of way, most classrooms have computers, and the interactive whiteboards are immuring into Dutch classrooms. Teachers use technology sometimes, but they don’t integrate it into their teaching. In comparison with the TPACK model, the technology is used next to PK and CK as illustrated below.
In practice this means that the technology doesn’t improve or supports the pedagogy that the teacher is using, or the content that the teacher is teaching. During a lecture in my University the professor showed us a film. In the particular part of the film they showed a (wise old) professor lecturing his students, using very inspiring words about how it is the students time to learn and that we are at the beginning of a new era. Namely the era were technology is integrated into teaching. It showed students that were following his lecture on distance by watching it on a laptop or I-pad. First it really seemed very inspiring, but afterwards it was explained that this is how technology is already being used! The fact that students watched the lecture from a distance, doesn’t influence how is being taught (PK) or what is being taught (CK). Another example is teachers using a whiteboard in exactly the same way as a chalkboard. This is such a same, because with more knowledge technology can help a teacher in his teaching and thereby improve students’ learning outcomes. By using this model, teachers are ‘forced’ to think about all the different aspects and how to integrate these with each other. Because integration is essential for improvement, and this is one of the strengths of T-PACK.
Furthermore I think that another strength is that it is based upon an exciting model. This model is very natural for teachers, namely the model of Shulman (1986) which I already introduced before. I think 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 prior knowledge, this way it is less ‘invasive’ then a model that they can’t relate to.
TPACK also reminds me about another model, namely the model of the ‘spider web’ by van den Akker (2003). Van de Akker (2003) states that if you want to change something in a curriculum you have a address not only what you want to implement, but you also have to think about the effect this has on other elements of the curriculum. So if you want to implement technology into your teaching, as a teacher, you have to take the content, pedagogy and the context into account. This aligns with the idea of the TPACK model.
So in conclusion, I think that the TPACK model can help teachers a lot in how they should integrate technology and thereby improve their teaching.


Koehler, J. M. & Mishra, P. (2009) What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Isseus in Technology and Teacher Education, 9. 70-60 (1)
Akker, J. van den (2003). Curriculum perspectives: An introduction. In J. van den Akker, W. Kuiper & U. Hameyer (Eds.), Curriculum landscapes and trends (1-10). Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14

zondag 9 oktober 2011

Reflection on SimSchool

In my opinion SimSchool can be used as an eye opener. In the Netherlands there are many students that just finished high school and don't really know what they want to do. The ones that want to do 'something' with children, usually start with teacher training. Not all teacher training facilities start with internships in the first year, what leads to a lot of students in the second or even third year that teach for the first time and then realize it isn't as easy as it looks. During this process a lot of students drop out, because they realize they can't handle it or that they don't like it.
I think that SimSchool can be used to eliminate this problem, there comes a lot more to teaching than just being sweet and being good with children.
During the simulation you can see how easily children get distracted and that it takes a lot of work to provide a suitable activity for all of the pupils. Using this program instead of a real internships speeds up the process of realizing this. So this technological resource helps students of the teacher training. It also helps the teacher training facility itself, because they don't have to look for so many places for internships and they can concentrate their time on students that really want to become teachers.
I think it also helps matching learning activities with pupils characteristics. As I already said, different pupils have different learning styles, so they also want to learn in different ways. By using this simulation the teacher can try which activity suits best with which personality. Because the program goes six times faster then the real world, the teacher can try more activities then he could try in the real world. This also is an advantage on a simulation, so thumbs up for technology.
But there also are a couple of this I didn't like about SimSchool. As I said in the beginning of this reflection, I think that SimSchool is a good eye opener. By this statement I mean that it is a good program to support a lesson in teacher training, but that SimSchool alone isn't going to be enough. During teaching, the way you present an activity is just as important as the activity itself. In the simulation you haven't got any influence on how the activity is presented to the pupils. It also doesn't take into account if the pupils are in a good mood today, if it is almost weekend or the start of the week. All these elements are very important during teaching. Therefore I think that SimSchool is a nice activity to start a lesson, but that after using it for a while the professor has to teach about the environmental factors as well.
Another aspect that I realized wasn't during the lesson with Everly, but during a lesson with more pupils in the classroom. I wanted to connect the students individual needs to the activities. But when I was doing this, I realized that this was impossible in the real world, because there was a student taking a test, a student was playing a game and another student was leading an discussion. If this would happen in a real classroom, the pupils would distract each other, but in the simulation everyone was happy.
Therefore I stay with my statement, I think SimSchool is a good eye opener and can help students realize how difficult it is to control a classroom filled with children and see all of the different learning styles and activities. But in my opinion it can only be used for this context, otherwise it seem doesn't to take enough factors into account, such as presentation and environmental factors.

Pedagogies and Technology

This week I'm going to write about pedagogies and technology. It is about different types of pedagogies and learning activities, I will illustrate this subject with a program called simSchool.
SimSchool is a program that can be used during teacher training for the elementary school, the program provides simulations of a classroom that you (as a teacher) have to run. You can create a classroom, filled with students (as many or little as you want) all with individual characters and learning styles. If you run the simulation you can choose from different learning activities. As the teacher you can give the whole class the same activity or you can give individual activities, but you have to take the different learning preferences of the students into account before giving an activity. Every student prefers other activities, as a teacher you will have to find a balance to meet every students preferences.
During the simulation you can give the students comments and ask question, these can help motivate, complement the student or it can put him back to work when the student is distracted. After the lesson you can see a graph of different factors that concerns the students actions to the lesson. For example if the student liked the lesson or if his academic level went up. This gives you a good picture of how you did as a teacher. 

To try this program I followed a description of a module that was written for a student. In this simulation there was just one student, named Everly, in the classroom. If you clicked on the class computer and then on Everly's picture, you could read about his personality and how he liked to learn. Everly is a student that likes to be stimulated and likes interaction, so activities where he can work in a group would be good for Everly.
The activities that are prescribed in the module are:
- Go over last week’s lessons
- Take notes during lecture
- Take an oral quiz
These are all individual activities, so I geuss Everly isn't going to be happy with this lesson. I described the lesson below:

Everly is distracted from the start and you can see that his academic level is dropping, meanwhile his happiness isn't chancing, but is clearly isn't a right activity for Everly. Then I move on to the next activity, taking notes during lecturing. Everly is paying more attention to this activity and his academics and happiness are rising. But the second that I start the oral quiz, Everly is distracted again and his academics are dropping again. Luckily his happiness stays the same.
In this graphic below the teacher effectiveness is shown, as you can see the effectiveness is 0%.

My prediction that the activities that were instructed in the module didn't match Everly's preferences were right, he didn't like the lesson. His learning outcomes were low and he wasn't motivated, therefior this lesson was ineffective.