maandag 28 november 2011

Reflection on the professional development course:

During the last few weeks, I wrote a proposition for a professional development course for primary teachers about how to integrate technology in science lessons. I did this together with two fellow students; for all of us it was the first professional development course that we wrote.
First I will summarize the course in a nutshell.
The course is written for all members that work on primary school, and the content of the course is how to integrate technology into science education. The course will take place on the participating school. The course consists of seven meetings, during the first two meeting the instructor will construct vision and discuss possibilities and talk about the attitude towards using technology in science education. In the third meeting the members of the participating school will visit an exemplary school that already integrates technology. This way we hope to gain a positive attitude towards using technology and showing the school members what the possibilities are. After the visit to another school the school members will start designing science lessons with technology integrated. In the last lecture the school members will reflect upon the course and the instructor will discuss possibilities how to scale-up.

During the development of this course I found it very important that the course would be practical for the participating school. We all agreed upon this, so it was one of the main goals for the course. One of the other fellow students and me did teacher training before; and have experience in teaching. I  think this was an advantage during the development of this course.
Because of this, we could make an educated guess what the teachers attitudes would be on integrating technology and on the course itself. Personally I think this shows in our proposal, because it is very practical and I think school members could really see the advantages of using technology in science education. We kept is ‘small’, it only for one school at the time and in their own environments to make sure the conditions were optimal. This way, I think we made it more alike that it could really be implemented.
On the other hand, having the teacher training as a prior knowledge may also be a disadvantage. I noticed that by thinking very practically, I forgot to base my decisions on literature; but started basing decisions on experience (which is very teacher like). So I really had to keep in mind, that I could not only base my decisions on experience or what I thought was right, but I had to look for answers in literature.
I found this quite difficult, because immediately when I read the assignment; a hundred ideas came up, which all seemed great. But non of these were based on literature.

So one of the first things we did was look for literature, this way the ideas could be adopted or dismissed based upon facts. Very quickly we came up with a framework for our final idea, now the only problem was how to shape the framework in a good course. For this we had quite some difficulties, partly these were because of the broad description what the professional development course had to address. One the one hand its nice to have a broad description, because that way there are little restrictions. But unfortunately for us we understood the assignment a slightly wrong and first started writing a TPACK course for primary school teachers.
When we got redirected into the right direction we luckily could conclude that without very large changes we could adapt the course into the right direction. But still I found it a bit difficult to make a good distinction between teaching TPACK and teaching how to integrate technology and therefore become TPACK. To my opinion these things are closely related, because to become TPACK you have to know what TPACK is. But knowing what TPACK is, does not necessarily make you TPACK; so teaching only TPACK would not have been enough.

Aside from making the course practical and use the experience of teacher training to assure the possibility for implementation, we also used literate. We used the model of Nies, et al. (2009) that has five different stages for the adoption (or rejection) of integrating technology (and become TPACK). Even though we used information from both resources (literature and experience), I realized that implementation is a very difficult aspect.
If I look at our course, I realize that we stated our course on the assumption that if team members will talk, discuss and see (on the site visit) the possibilities; they will get a positive attitude towards integrating technology into science education. If not, the team members will maybe not want to design lessons to integrate technology, they might still feel that it takes too much effort. Therefore I think that even if you design a professional development course in detail, and everything is substantiated with literature and previous experiences it can still fail.
Probably the instructor should be very flexible, should be open to ideas of the team members, and a good negotiator to improve the changes of really implementing a sustainable innovation.

1 opmerking:

  1. Hi Charlotte, thank you for your reflection and for participating in my course! I had to smile a bit when you wrote "a hundred ideas came up, which all seemed great, but non of these were based on literature". Yes! This is often the way things go. But I hope you experienced that by using the literature you can strengthen or even improve your practical experiences..