maandag 4 februari 2013

Back to blogging

Hi everyone,

I see I haven't updated my blog for a year...oops. I created the blog in 2011 because it was part of a course I was following for my master 'Educational Science and Technology' at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. 

After completing that course (finished with a mark 8 out of 10! :) ) I started my thesis to complete my master. Unfortunately, I forgot a bit about this blog. 

However, a few weeks ago I enrolled myself for the MOOC (massive open online course) 'E-learning and Digital Cultures' from Coursera and the teachers encouraged you to write about the course, for example trough a blog. So I was reminded again about my blog...

And I will use this blog now to write about my experiences and the things I learn from that course.

Also, I am planning to talk about my thesis on this blog. I am doing a research about the use and implementation of 21st century skills in primary education. For this, I will collaborate with a primary school in the Netherlands. 

I hope you'll like my new contributions to the blog and if you want, please write a comment :)


dinsdag 29 november 2011

Integrating technology into schools

Along with working with the TPACK model, the topic of integrating technology into schools is interesting to talk about. The topic is off course very broad and much is written about this topic. Many people have tried to describe the topic, find out what the problems with technology integration are, what the possible solutions are, etc. You can write at least a 1000 books about it. Therefore, to keep it a little bit small sized, in this blogpost I will discuss the topic as an elaboration on the design of the teacher training program scientifIK.

In the design of scientifIK, we have tried to encourage technology integration in the following ways:

* Different levels of technology integration in the classroom
* Personal guidance and reflection on experiences
* Trying to include the school management

Based on the literature about technology integration levels of Otero et al. (2005) and Moersch (1995) a framework of levels was developed (see the figure below). In this framework it is apparent that training starts at the level of ´exploration´. The two phases before exploration, ´non-use´ and ´awareness´, are the phases that go before the exploration level. In these levels, the teacher does not use technology yet, and when they follow the course they will do so, and therefore they will automatically enter the exploration phase. After the exploration phase, in which the teacher discovers the wonderful world of using technology in the classroom, he will enter the utilization phase. In this phase the teacher will actually use technology in the classroom. One level higher, or lower according to the picture, is the level were teachers will probably develop TPACK. In the scientifIK program we have organized the program according to these levels. As we thought that it might take some time for the teachers to develop their TPACK, the teachers spend at least six months on one level, and 18 months on the integration level which will take most time. As I have described in my previous blog, in each level also a higher level of TPACK was developed. I think that this disctinction in levels makes the program very clear and doable for the teachers. I also think that when teachers have to integrate technology in their classroom, it should go in steps and that the teachers should have some time to explore and use the technology first before they have to implement it.

I also think that the process of integrating  technology is a personal process for a teacher. Firstly, all teachers have different interests in technology, different competences, motivation and confidence about themselves using technology. When a teacher is trying to integrate technology in his lessons he will have to rethink and reflect on his lessons. This might be difficult or scary for the teacher. Therefore, I think it is also part of the professional development of the teachers. In many organizations employees get training and professional development opportunities and I think this should be also the case for teachers (or even more). Individual guidance can help the teachers to overcome their personal issues and difficulties with technology and might improve integration of technology. 

On the school level, the use of technology should be stimulated and facilitated. This starts with the availability of suitable technologies, assistance and a school policy on the use of technology. Suitable technology is technology that works, that has value for the money, that can be used for several years and that teachers feel comfortable working with. When it comes to implementation and integration, the process should not go too fast. It is of most importance that both teachers and school management are involved in the integration process. Many times, technology is bought by the school and the teachers are expected to use them right away. However, I think that the school management should provide time to the teachers to get acquinted with the material before they have to use it in their classroom. Another important aspect is that using technology into teaching is often voluntary for the teachers. No one will make a fuss about it when they do not use the technology at all. I think that this should be made less voluntarily, I think it will stimulate teachers to think more about integrating technology.

Off course, there are many more aspects of technology integration to discuss about students' technology skills, mobile learning, long term effects of learning with technology, infrastructure and connectivity issues....For now I would like to end the story here, as I think this blog is already quite long.... :) will be continued....


Otero, V., Peressini, D., Meymaris, K. A., Ford, P., Garvin, T., Harlow, D., Reidel, M., Waite, B. & Mears, C. (2005). Integrating technology into teacher education. A critical framework for implementing reform. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(1), 8–23

Moersch, C. (1995). Levels of Technology Integration (LoTi): A Framework for Measuring Classroom Technology Use. Leading and Learning with Technology, pp. 40 - 42.  

maandag 28 november 2011

Using the TPACK model

It was quite an interesting experience to design a course for teachers instead of students. The TPACK model was the main model used as a backbone for the design. One advantage of using the TPACK model was that it gives you opportunities to divide the concept ´teaching science with technology´ into the three parts ´teaching´, ´science´ and ´technology´.

From the context analysis it was found that teachers were mostly not confident about their science knowledge and that they did not use technology for teaching very much. So it was necessary that in the training program we had to start with the development of the basics and that we could not start directly with training on the level of TPACK. The understanding of this idea from the TPACK model was valuable for the design.

Besides that, because the TPACK model seems to be divided into different levels, it makes you consider how you can divide your training program into different levels. The goal of the training program is to learn something, and different levels can give confidence to teachers that they have the time to learn, that they do not have to do everything at the right moment and it is motivating and stimulating that there is more to learn when they have finished one part of the program.

However, we also found out that the TPACK model alone was not enough to design the teacher training program. It takes into account many aspects of ´teaching about science integrating technology´ but for a training program other aspects are important too. Some of these aspects are preferences of adults in learning, motivation of teachers for learning and individual, team and school development. So, we used another model and theories too. This is also something that I will discuss in the next post.

The last thing that I would like to consider in this blog is that we also used an article about a specific TPACK model: the TPASK model (Jimoyiannis, 2010). In the TPASK model the content knowledge is always science knowledge and the pedagogies and technologies used have the focus on science education. We used the article to choose activities which we could use in our training program and this was very helpful. An interesting question is now whether is it necessary and helpful to develop more specific ´TPACK´ models focussing on other subjects, like languages and mathemathics. Or is this needless and can the basic TPACK model be used always? I think that it is certainly helpful to develop the ´new´ models to test and reflect on the TPACK model. Thinking specifically about activities to support TPACK development for different topics and the use of technology in different topics can also stimulate the integration of technology in teaching. And for some situations, it is better to have more specific models than a general one. However, for now, let´s just enjoy the usefulness of the TPACK model itself.


Jimoyiannis, A. (2010). Designing and implementing an integrated technological pedagogical science knowledge framework for science teachers professional development. Computers and Education 55(2010), pp. 1259 – 1269.

zondag 27 november 2011


The last few weeks I have worked on designing a training program for teachers from a primary school,  together with three other students from my master program at the University of Twente. We have called the teacher training program ´scientifIK´ because the underlying goal of the program was to make the teachers more confident about their science teaching (for the non-Dutch readers: IK means ´I´ in Dutch). Moreover, the training was also about integrating technology into science teaching.

The course was mainly developed on the basis of the TPACK model, which was described in my previous blog. The primary school for which it was designed was a fictive school, so unfortunately it will probably not be used. We had made our context analysis on the basis of literature about Dutch primary school teachers. 

Our main starting points were that a) primary school teachers are often not confident about teaching science because they feel that they do not know enough about the topics and b) that technology is not used very often by the teachers and therefore new, especially in the combination with science teaching. We also included some aspects of professional development of teachers, like creating space in the program for individual learning goals, individual coaching, the use of experiental learning and sharing experiences with other teachers. To make the training program more sustainable and integrated in the school, we explicity involved the schoolleader in the program and made sure that the training program would fit well into the school organization.

The training program was divided into three levels. In every level the following sequence of activities was repeated:

  • Pre-test: teachers´ TPACK measurement
  • Kick-Off: planning of the level, discussion about personal and school goals
  • Meetings: teachers develop knowledge and skills together 
  • Posttest:  teachers´ TPACK measurement
In between the meetings, teachers work on their individual learning goals and share these experiences with their colleagues on the ELO forum of their school. The teachers are encouraged to integrate what they have learned during the meetings in their classroom and to reflect both on their own experiences and the experiences of other teachers. This will be guided by the trainer. The trainer will also guide the teachers individually by email in between the meetings. In these emails the teachers can ask questions to the trainer and reflect on their learning experiences. 

In the exploration level, which was the first six months of the program, the teachers will develop their content knowledge by learning more about scientific concepts. In the meetings of the exploration level, different pedagogies and technologies are used to so that the teachers can get an idea about how they work. 

The second level is called the utilization level and consists of the next six months of the training program. Teachers work on integrating their science knowledge with different pedagogies and also try to use technology in their classroom. 

In the last level, which goes on for 18 months, teachers will learn to use the science content, pedagogies for science teaching and technology to support science education. In this phase, there will be less meetings but the teachers will learn more from designing lesson with TPACK themselves and reflecting on their own experiences in the classroom.

It was quite challenging to design for teachers, as I have never done that before and I do not have teaching experiences myself. A group of teachers is often more heterogeneous than a groups of students so for the context analysis you need to find out much more. In the design phase, you have to take into account workload and available time of the teachers for the training. But I think that the scientifIK program is quite interesting and unfortunately we are not going to implement it for real :(

In the next blogs I will go deeper into some other concepts of the design of the teacher program: the use of the TPACK model, the possible strenghts and weaknesses of the design and a general view on technology integration in education. For now, I would like to conclude with a cartoon which will be used in the scientifIK highligths the difficulty of scientific concepts (even a ´simple´ one like why it is warmer in summer) and it shows that it is not that simple at all. We hope that certain fun cartoon will give someone the confidence to learn more about it, and that more people have difficulties with it!

If you are interested in more details of the scientifIK program, feel free to leave a reaction on my blogpost.

dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

The TPACK model

The TPACK model was created to understand the role of content, pedagogy and technology in learning in the difficult practice of teaching (Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009). Moreover, it was created to understand the relationships between content, pedagogy and technology and how these concepts interact with each other. It is a development on the ideas of Schulman (1987, 1986) (in Koehler & Mishra, 2009) that combining content and pedagogy knowledge is important, and it includes the modern visions of using technology in learning. Below, a picture of the TPACK model is given. 

In the simplest form, the TPACK model consists of three components:

  • The Content Knowledge (CK): This is knowledge that the teacher has about the content that he is teaching
  • The Pedagogical Knowledge (PK): This is knowledge that the teacher has about different ways of teaching
  • The Technological Knowledge (TK): This is knowledge that the teacher has about the technology which he can use to teach

- Please remember the abbreviations because I will use them in the rest of my blog- 

The concepts have the tendency to interact with each other, as you can see in the picture, they overlap. This is a little bit more difficult to explain. When PK and CK overlap, Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) arises. PCK is knowledge that the teacher has about how to teach certain content. When PK and TK overlap, there is Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), which is knowledge that the teacher has about how certain technology can alter his teaching or the learning of students. Last but not least, when TK and CK find each other, then Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) uprises. This is knowledge that the teacher has about how the content that he is teaching and certain technology that he is using for teaching and the influences that they have on each other. 

The overlapping components make clear that there are relations and interactions between the components. But this is not all. You can see that in the very middle of the model, PCK, TPK and TCK share some space. This is actually where the true relations and interactions take place and it is the core business of the TPACK model. In this core business, the following aspects are of importance:

  • The knowledge of using the right technologies for the right content
  • The involvement of students´ prior knowledge to the development of a pedagogy for a certain content using a certain technology
  • Using the pedagogical approaches that are right for a certain technology that helps learning a certain content
  • Using the right pedagogies and technologies that makes learning more effective for the learner
  • The understanding of how technology can change pedagogies for teaching a certain content

A teacher that works with TPACK a lot will probably become a teacher who will be able to continuously choosing the right pedagogy and technology for teaching certain content. The teacher will become aware of the advantages and disadvantages of certain technologies and pedagogies. It is expected that an experienced TPACK using teacher is able to be more flexible in switching between pedagogies and technologies. 

The practical aspect of using TPACK in a certain context is that in all different situations, the effect of the content, pedagogy and technology can be different. In the figure above this is shown by the blue dotted line that circles around the TPACK model. The context involves many factors, for example:

  • Availability of technologies. A teacher can know many things about certain technologies, but when these technologies are not available, he can not use them.
  • The school culture. The school culture can make some pedagogies or technologies more favourite or hated and this can diminish the flexible use of the teachers. Moreover, the use of different pedagogies and technologies should be supported by the school culture.
  • Teacher education. Most of the teachers have basic technology skills, but in order to use the technology they find appropriate for their pedagogy and content, they need to be trained for more detailed, personal needs skills.

So, all situations are different therefore there is probably no best way to use TPACK. For every subject, in different situations, with different teachers, applying TPACK to a lesson or lesson series can result in different outcomes. This is very interesting, because it means that there is no fixed result from using the TPACK model available. A question arising from this is then how does a teacher now that he has created a good lesson with TPACK? In this case, 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 hope to find out more about this topic in the coming weeks.  

The TPACK model can support the development of learning activities where content, pedagogy and technology are integrated. As the learning system seems to be changing in the future and the integration of technology is needed to make the learning system future-proof, new learning activities are needed. Also, I said it before in this blog that there is a lot of interaction going on between content, pedagogy and technology. Developing (and evaluating!) the learning activities can give rise to more understanding of the interactions between the three components T, C and K in the model and which learning activities work and do not work and why. Factors that influence these interactions can be assessed and used to create an even more in-depth understanding of the TPACK model. 

Teachers who become convenient with using different technologies and pedagogies for certain content teaching might become flexible in using different approaches in teaching. This might increase student centred, technology rich classrooms and flexibility in learning. When a teacher knows about flexible options for the students, he can offer this to his students. He can offer students to learn in the way that they prefer because the teacher understands that students have different learning styles.

When teachers are thinking about redesigning their lessons using TPACK, it also stimulates professional development. This has simply to do with the fact that redesigning a lesson helps the teacher reflect on his own practices and reflection in a certain way stimulates self development and improvement of practices. I think that using TPACK is a convenient, not very difficult way to help many teachers trying to alter their teaching. 

It is said by Ertmer (2005) and Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2009) that adopting technology in the classroom can be a very slow process for teachers. Teachers need to get access and skills for using technology in the first place. Also, they need to have the belief that they find it necessary to use technology and that they are able to use technology. Teachers start by using and integrating  ´simple´ technologies in the classroom, like a PowerPoint presentation and an online movie. When they are familiar with these ´simple´ technologies, and are stimulated to use different kind of technologies they might increase their technology use in teaching. In this process, I think that using the TPACK model as a sort of ´catalyst´ in the slow process, by letting teachers think themselves about technology and teaching and showing them that simple changes can already change the non-technology teaching practice into a technology rich teaching practice...and that it is not that difficult alltogether...


Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H. & Peck, C. (2009). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: explaining a apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813-834.

Ertmer, P.A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 25-39.

Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.

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

woensdag 19 oktober 2011

The Triangle Flexibility - Technology - Pedagogy

In my previous blogs I have discussed the issues FLEXIBILITY, PEDAGOGY and TECHNOLOGY separetely. In this blog I would like to consider what my experiences with these issues so far and try to reflect on the relationships between them. This will be experiences from a course I follow about Pedagogies for Flexible Learning supported by Technology, but also some experiences from other courses or things I have learned. The triangle below illustrates a little bit how flexibility, technology and pedagogy are connected. As you can see, all three of them are connected with each other and they all have their influences on each other.

At first, in the last few weeks, some of the concepts I had in mind have changed. I always considered 'flexibility' as a concept that had to do with distance education, with e-learning and video lectures, studying at your own place and time. Now, however, I found out that flexibility is so much more than that :) Another concept of which my ideas have changed is that 'technology' is not only digital technology, but also non-digital technologies like a textbook and a chalkboard. Never thought of that before, because when you say 'technology' in informal conversation, you mean digital technology, right? But for educational purposes and for this blog, I have to look broader on the subject of technologies than only the digital technologies.

I discussed flexibility in my first blog. There I said that flexibility can for example change the delivery of learning material and make learning more adapted to the individual learner. The ultimate goal of integrating technology in education is to create technology-rich learning environment in which digital and non-digital technologies together support and enhance learning for every student. This an utiopian idea that shines trough most literature upon the subject. In this technology-rich environment, the teacher does not need to think about how he is using different technologies, but has the skills to switch between them easily and use the right technologies for the right pedagogies (and vice versa). This will probably lead to more learner-centred pedagogies in education, in which the students contruct their own knowledge with the teacher as a facilitator. It will change the use of digital technologies as a substitute or addition to existing learning material/curriculum to the integrating of digital technologies in the existing learning material/curriculum.

Good pedagogies can be difficult to establish for certain technologies. It will certainly take a lot of time to develop them, and it will need a lot of effort from teachers. Pioneer teachers are needed, teachers who are willing to put a bit more time and effort in their job to experiment with new technologies in teaching and to make the schools' curriculum a technology-rich curriculum. Sometimes, I am scared that developing pedagogies take a longer time than the survival time of a certain technology...And developing new pedagogies is almost only worthwhile when in increases learning outcomes for students. Take for example learning with mobile devices; many lessons have been developed already, however evidence from enhanced learning is almost not available. There has just not been enough time yet to find out these results.

zondag 16 oktober 2011

Playing with Technology

The Cool Tools for Schools Wiki is a very nice website which offers links to all kinds of 'tools' that can be used in the classroom. In fact it is a libary of digital/online tools that can be used by teachers. These tools can be for example:

* Presentation tools like PrezentitWebPoster and Photoshow
* Quiz tools like Yacapaca, Hot Potatoes and Quizlet
* Collaborative tools like DebateGraph, Google Docs and Ninehub (and their slogan is learning anyone, anywhere, anytime :) )
* Writing tools like Bookr, StudentPublishing and Flipsnack
* ...and many more...(see website)

The basic idea is that by putting all these programs together, teachers can more easily find them (and indirectly more easily use them in practice). Most of the tools are user friendly and need no long registration sessions. Also, most tools offer the storage of documents online, which creates good opportunities for storing and sharing documents online. This can be very handy when students have to engage in collaborative learning. 

With two fellow students I have tried some tools from the section 'Presentation Tools'. Prezentit was sort of simple version of Powerpoint and containted many templates for making a fast but professional looking presentation. WebPoster was a program in which you could make quite simple posters with again many templates in the program. Photoshow was an interactive photoalbum, it is meant to share photos. You can add your own comments and music to it, if you like. With this tool we have created a very nice show about Nijntje :) We thought that this tool might be interesting when students have to express their learning trough making pictures. Sometimes assignments include taking pictures and this is a nice and handy way for the students to share their findings with the class. By making the presentations and seeing the photos again, students might repeat the things they learned during the assignment. Or it can be just for fun, for example for showing pictures from an excursion :)

Some features of these cool tools make it really appropriate for usage by teachers. This includes the easy sharing and storage of files made with these tools online, this can improve collaborative learning between teachers and students, and between students. Sometimes teachers might find it difficult to find the tools they need. Here they have a website that gives them a list from which they can choose. Also, new cool tools can inspire teachers to try new things and use tools for learning they would have never thought of themselves. And most of the tools are quite user-friendly. You can use the the program even if you have little digital skills. Therefore, I would suggest that all teachers have a look at this website (and student to, you can probably find something interesting for yourself there!)