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!)

dinsdag 11 oktober 2011

Teaching with technology - but how?

For many teachers the integration of technology in their teaching ways is quite difficult. Most teachers use technology for educational purposes, however, this is often directed to low level use of technology, for example for organizational procedures and putting lecture slides on the Blackboard environment (de Boer, 2004). Not many teachers use technology for communication purposes or instructional purposes, which is called high level use of technology. 

This is quite disappointing, according to me, because a lot of technologies that can truly support and enhance learning are available nowadays. Take for example simSchool, a simulation made for teachers that are in training but also trainers who are already working fulltime. simSchool was developed by a.o. Gerald Knezek from the University of Texas (of whom I have followed a seminar) and it is supposed to be what the flight simulator is for pilots. Teachers can use it to practice didactical skills in an online class with as many students as they would like. 

An example from simSchool, in the class are two students

During the seminar we were granted access to simSchool and I was allowed to ´play´ with the simulation myself. I use the word play because I really felt like I was playing a game instead of using an educational tool. Maybe this is because I am not trained as a teacher and I do not perceive the relevance of it yet...The first simulation round you had to teach one student. This student had a name and a full report of characteristics, academic interests and results...so as a teacher you know a lot about this kid to teach him personally based upon his preferences and abilities. However, it was quite difficult to keep this student behaving correctly and motivated for learning. I have also tried the simulation with two and five students.

During the simulation the teacher can use a lot of different learning materials and things to say to keep the class motivated, behaving and learning. In the beginning, it was quite difficult to find the right pedagogies and behavioural assertations but after a few rounds it is easier. However, I never managed to get the students behaving properly and learning....maybe this is because I don´t know much about teaching, or just because teaching is a difficult thing to do? I don´t know.

What I do now is that I would have really liked it when there would have been more feedback in the simSchool program. The feedback provided was graphical and given after you had finished the simulation but I would have really liked it when I was doing the simulation to have more feedback on my actions. I was able to see that it wasn´t going well but I didn´t know what to do about it and I kept trying stuff but nothing really worked – some just-in-time feedback on my actions or a help button would have made it much easier for me. 

According to Gerald, teachers that practice with simSchool are able to use many more pedagogies and teaching strategies than they would have done in the real class. This is what Alessi & Trollis (2001) also state: ´the safety of a game (rather than doing the real activity) encourages learners to explore alternative approaches with the knowledge that failure at worst means losing the game´. This really helps teachers to question their own teaching, trying out new things and reflecting on their practices. 

Therefore I think that the simSchool simulation can be very well used during teacher training courses. Some examples to use this simSchool during teacher training would be for example:

1.     1.  At the beginning of the first year, before going to a real school it is a safe environment to have your first ´teaching experience´
2.      2. As a support tool during the 3rd and 4th year when students have longer periods of internships and are not at school that much
3.     3.  As an assessment tool when the trainers have no time or opportunity to visit the students´ internship school (example when a student does a part of the internship in a foreign country)
4.     4.  As a support tool for teachers who have already started working but who would like to practice with different pedagogies outside of their classroom

And that´s one example of how many technologies can be used in education – there are so many options available. I have found an interesting article in which the writer proposes a framework for the intensities that a teacher uses technology in education. The article dates from 1995, so I think that some remarks should be made on it to make it more suitable for 2011 :). I will give an overview of the levels and some examples: 

0. Non-use
1. Awareness
2. Exploration
3. Infusion
4. Integration
5. Expansion
6. Refinement


Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Educational Games. In A. Burkikovs & P. Mailloux (Eds.) Multimedia for learning, methods and developments, (pp. 270 – 301). Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.

Boer, W.F. de (2004). Flexibility support for a changing university. Doctoral dissertation. Faculty of Educational Science and Technology, Univeristy of Twente. Enschede, NL: Twente University Press.

Moersch, C. (1995). Levels of technology implementation (LoTi) A framework for measuring classrooms technology use. Learning and Leading with Technology, pp. 40-45. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org on 10 october 2011.

maandag 3 oktober 2011

Flexibility, what´s that?

Flexibility in learning is often seen as a vague concept, in which people put the emphasis of flexible learning on the location where learning takes place (Collis & Moonen, 2001). 

The choice to be flexible on the location of where you can learn is quite familiar idea. Someone can learn in a classroom, research lab, gymnastics area, field trip and many more other locations. Moreover, the development of computer-based learning makes learners able to learn anywhere when there is a computer available. A more recent technology development is that of mobile learning: learning can take easily take place outside of the classroom with the use of mobile devices (Price, 2007). But even within the school flexible learning can be created, when learners can decide in which area of the school they want to study. This can be done, for example, by letting the learners study in the library or pc-room instead of the classroom.
However, as Collis and Moonen (2001) indicate that the concept of flexibility in learning is broader than flexibility in location, therefore, flexibility in learning is better explained as giving the learner more choice about his learning. Moreover, he stresses out that it can be quite difficult to create flexibility opportunities in learning.

But, when flexibility is defined as giving the learner more choice about his learning, it still remains as a broad and little bit vague concept. In the following segment, I will try to find out some examples for possibilities of flexibility in learning to make it more concrete.

As said before, 

Beside the flexibility of the location, learners can be given flexibility on, for example:
  •  The time that they want to study. Some learners need more time than others, some learners like to study in the morning, others in the evening, for example.
  • The content. Learners can choose (parts of) the subjects which they find most interesting to study, make their own personal curriculum, skip courses that they already master.
  • The teacher. Sometimes, there a more teachers who can teach the same subject, so students could be flexible in choosing the teacher.
  • Studying alone or in pairs or groups. Learners differ a lot in preferences for working alone or together and might be given the flexibility to choose.
Of course, there are many more options for flexibility and also more examples available. 

A nice example for flexibility supported by mobile devices is Bitesize. Bitesize is an online school support system for students in the UK. Students can download tutorials and exercises for all school subjects on their computer or laptop or mobile device. The video below is an example for a Bitesize tutorial. This tutorial teaches learners on how to participate in a group discussion, which is something that students in the UK are tested for a school.

Another nice example for flexibility in learning is the ´Iederwijs´ schools in the Netherlands. At most Iederwijs schools students are totally free to choose what they want to learn and when they want to learn this, all by themselves. They have the full responsibility upon their own learning. At the end of their school career they can choose to do the Dutch central examination for high school, but this is not mandatory. A nice video about Iederwijs in Dutch:


Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001). Flexible learning; it’s not just about distance. In J. Moonen (Ed.), Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations (chapter 1). London: Kogan Page
Price, S. (2007). Ubiquitous computing: Digital Augmentation and Learning. In N. Pachler (Ed.), Mobile Learning: Towards a Research Agenda (Vol. 1, pp. 33-54). London: WLE Centre for Excellence, Institute of Excellence, University of London.

zaterdag 1 oktober 2011

Welcome to my blog!

This blog is created for the course 'Pedagogies for Flexible Learning supported by Technology'. In this blog, I will try to keep you up-to-date with nice ideas from literature research, group discussions and personal learning experiences gathered during this course. The title of this blog is Learning Whenever, Wherever, Whatever? I am very curious if technology (and other factors) can make it possible for youth and adult learners to learn what they want, when they want and how they want it. I do not know if I can answer that question during the course, but maybe, some answers can guide me into that direction. 
Let's just say for now that the focus of the blog will be on technology, flexibility with technology and the integration of technology in learning. These topics will give us already much content to discuss about. I think and hope that I will put a lot of effort in it to write interesting blogs and that you will enjoy reading this blog. Last but not least, please do not feel shy to leave a comment from your side! I would like to hear your thoughts about what I am writing here. There are also some links to the blogs of fellow students following this course, if you are interested, have a look!