Gamification in the Workplace

Robson, K., Plangger, K., Kietzmann, J. H., McCarty, I., & Pitt, L. (2015). Is it all a game? Understanding the principles of gamification. Business Horizons, 58(4), 411-420.

Robson et al., provide a detailed article about how the game design principles in a non-gaming context can be used in a business environment with employees. The authors note that organizations have long motivated their employees and customers with game-like incentives. However, with much of what organizations do these days being mediated by digital technologies coupled with a variety of social media tools, gamification has potentially widespread application in contexts such as healthcare, sustainability, government, transportation and education (p. 412). Robson et al., define gamification as “the application of lessons from the gaming domain to change behaviors in non-game situations (p. 412). Thus, gamified experiences can focus on business processes or outcomes and can even involve participants, or players as they are called, from within or outside an organization or institution. Although gaming has been around the work environment for many years, the authors posit three recent developments that have brought a heightened awareness back to gamification in the workplace including: 1) better studies on gaming mechanics, dynamics and emotions, 2) the pervasiveness of social media and web-based technologies, and 3) the need for organizations to look for new and impactful ways to better connect with their employees.

Robson et al., make a compelling case for “why” gamification works in workplace. The authors suggest that gamification can change stakeholder behavior because it taps into intrinsic motivational drivers. Also, they indicate that since gamification usually involves the repetition of desired outcomes, that habits can be formed that require less cognitive resources each time a desired activity is reproduced. Additionally, the authors claim that gamification can create a desired behavior change in work contexts through rewarding desired employee behaviors thus leading to more satisfying outcomes. Therefore, as purported by Robson et al., by tapping into rewards and emotions, an effective gamification experience will motivate individuals’ behavior changes in a workplace setting. Furthermore, to take gamification to scale, Robson et al., suggest the gaming framework must include: 1) input from designers, players, spectators and observers, 2) game mechanics set by the designer, known before the experience starts and remain constant throughout the game, 3) offering players game dynamics that encourage strategic actions and interactions where players are less likely to quit, concede or settle, and 4) gaming that yields emotions that are fun-oriented and appealing. In the end, the authors highlight that all organizations need to motivate and engage their stakeholders and that gamification is an approach to help meet that need.

I feel that organizations, whether businesses or non-profit institutions such as educational entities, need to look for different ways to motivate employees, boost morale and built learner capacity. All too often the easiest way to do this is by providing large group professional development sessions or purchasing a pre-packaged online module for employees to passively participate in or individually complete. Although these approaches result in organizations and institutions being compliant, these traditional training supports are sub-par given the technology mediated resources available today. Although I believe that a process should not be gamified just because it can be, I do think there are many opportunities in the workplace where gamification would add value to adult learner capacity, organization measures and targets as well as create a more positive and joyful workplace.

Educators Microblogging Via Twitter

Carpenter, J. P., & Krutka, D. G. (2014). How and why educators use twitter: A survey of the field. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(4), 414-434.

Carpenter and Krutka offer a solid research article on the role Twitter plays in the field of education. Although usage of Twitter in the K-16 arena is often muddled and contradictory because some institutions block social media sites while others embrace these tools, the authors felt it was important to examine the “how” and “why” educators use Twitter. Their literature studies supported three key uses of Twitter in the classroom as of late including: 1) for communication purposes like events and deadlines, 2) for classroom activities like classroom happenings, subject matter questioning or to showcase finished projects, and 3) for teacher professional development. Most interestingly, to solicit survey respondents for their study, the authors disseminated their survey by tweeting an invitation and link and were able to get 755 K-16 educators to participate in their research.

The survey findings demonstrated that K-16 educators employed Twitter in diverse ways and that Twitter was most frequently used for professional development purposes to acquire and share resources and/or to connect with digital colleagues (p. 422). Additionally, the authors noted that many of the survey respondents prized Twitter as a valuable medium for its personalized and immediate nature as well as considered Twitter to be superior to traditional professional development (p. 422). Of special importance was how Twitter helped combat isolation in the classroom and connected educators with positive and creative colleagues and leaders. Although Carpenter and Krutka highlighted that their survey sample was not random and that the respondent population age was closer to 18-30, their research findings did align with other scholars’ assertions that participatory cultures thrive in online affinity spaces (Gee, 2004; Jenkins et al, 2009). Overall, their study findings have implications for educational institutions to consider the many reasons to tap into or leverage social media as a value-added professional development resource.

This study supports the great work that my district does with regard to social media usage for staff and students, yet reminds us of the work we still need to do to continue to refine and pinpoint best Twitter usage. Over two years ago, I offered virtual PD for staff to learn about Twitter through creating a Twitter account, finding colleagues to follow, finding a Twitter chat session to join and tweeting out lessons learned. I’ve also offered Twitter backchannel sessions for live PD as well as showcased the ways that Twitter can be used in the classroom to engage and extend student learning. Although there still is a level of enthusiasm for teachers using Twitter in the teaching and learning process, of late, it has felt more like a competition of what classrooms are doing, or better yet, “brag tweets”. It’s a great time to take stock of how teachers are using Twitter to communicate, interact with colleagues and showcase classroom happenings. Furthermore, it’s also a great time to figure out how teachers learn best using Twitter for PD and what Twitter activities most impact the teaching and learning process. #tweetwithpurpose and #tweetforeffectiveness

Works Cited:

Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York, NY: Routledge.

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Teacher Practice – The Fourth Space!

Calandra, B. & Puvirajah, A. (2014). Teacher practice in multi-user virtual environments: A fourth space. TechTrends, 58(6), 29-35.

The authors presented an article on Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) as a practicable, situated and embodied virtual space where novice teachers can work with other pre-service teachers to practice being a teacher without the constraints and risks related to practicing in actual schools. MUVEs, at their simplest form, are either two or three dimensional computer simulated graphical environments where real-world participants represent themselves through online persona or avatars to interact with various digital artifacts or other avatars (Dede et al., 2004). Regarding the need for MUVEs, several researchers have asserted that teacher education programs need to have a greater focus on clinical practice because the deliberate inclusion of practice prepares teachers to perform tasks and activities more skillfully and with greater confidence by the time they enter the profession (Ball & Forzani, 2009). Thus, Calandra & Puvirajah suggest that it would be ideal to provide pre-service teachers with actual classroom practice, but that it is not always feasible and offer their research on MUVEs as a “fourth space” as a part of or a near-real solution to this dilemma.

Calandra & Puvirajah offer four spaces for pre-service teachers to learn and hone their classroom practices: 1) traditional lecture-driven classroom, 2) microteaching and role-play, 3) practice teaching in actual schools, and 4) teacher practice takes place in MUVEs. The first space of learning, is about reading and listening to others or perhaps better described as canonical knowledge with learners being passive recipients. The second space, opens the door for microteaching and role-playing in contrived scenarios usually in a university classroom with peers and the result is a simple and/or obvious solution to a teaching problem without genuine classroom distractions and within an artificial time frame. The third space, is practicing teaching in an actual school and offers pre-service teachers the opportunity for situated, authentic and valuable learning. However, the authors note that actual pre-service teachers might not be able to handle the large sensory load and the high pressure that is inherent to physical world classrooms while also learning the essentials of teaching. That idea was supported by Korthagen & Lagerwerf (1995), when they posited that teachers in these (pre-service) situations might produce more visceral or instinctual responses to occurrences in the classroom rather than connect praxis decisions to theory via repeated practice and careful reflection. Thus, the fourth space was constructed by Calandra & Puvirajah, to include the ability to: 1) occupy a virtual persona within a near-real simulation, 2) work within a social, distributed environment, 3) fail in a low stakes setting, 4) repeat a given task many times, and 5) isolate a particular aspect of the experience for careful reflection (p. 32).

I think there is incredible value to constructing a MUVE for pre-service teachers to try out a variety of different classroom tasks such as lecturing, working in groups, practice questioning techniques, working on classroom management strategies, interacting with parents, etc. I think a classroom MUVE could provide a much more natural, organic and authentic space where learning would occur for pre-service teachers where they would have to think on their feet, react to the myriad of situations that occur and reflect on their actions. Speaking from experience, when newly minted teachers work in our district, I clearly see the struggles, large sensory loads that impact their classroom happenings and the general feelings of being overwhelmed. All new teachers want to be the best they can be, but in reality teaching is an unpredictable and highly variable endeavor. MUVEs might be the catalyst and fourth space needed to simulate the possible spectrum of classroom activities and best prepare new teachers for their first teaching job. At the least, MUVEs are worth additional studies to determine if they might be a viable option to complement existing pre-service teacher preparation programs.

Works Cited:

Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2009). The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(5), 497-511.

Dede, C., Nelson, B., Ketelhut, D. J., Clark, J., & Bowman, C. (2004). Design-based research strategies for studying situated learning in a multi-user virtual environment. In Proceedings of the 6th international conference on Learning Sciences (pp. 158-165). International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Korthagen, F., & Lagerwerf, B. (1995). Levels of learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(10), 1001-1038.

Online Peer Feedback

Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., . . . , & Mong, C. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2), 412-33.

Ertmer et al., constructed a comprehensive study to examine students’ perceptions of the value of giving and receiving peer feedback on discussion postings in an online course. The authors deemed this study important because in the mid-2000’s, limited research had been conducted to examine either the impact of feedback in online learning or the impact of using peer feedback to shape the quality of discourse in an online learning course. Ertmer et al., posited the following research questions:

  • What is the impact of peer feedback on the quality of students’ postings in an online environment?
  • Can the quality of discourse/learning be maintained and/or increased through the use of peer feedback?
  • What are students’ perceptions of the value of receiving peer feedback?
  • How do these perceptions compare to the perceived value of receiving instructor feedback?
  • What are students’ perceptions of the value of giving peer feedback?

To support their research questions, the authors performed a detailed literature review revolving around key themes to shape their study including the following: role of feedback in instruction, role of feedback in online environments, advantages of using peer feedback, and the challenges of using peer feedback. Ertmer et al., used a case study framework to conduct their research on a semester-long, graduate course. The authors used both descriptive and evaluative approaches to examine fifteen participants’ perceptions of the value of the peer feedback process and evaluated the impact of the process on the quality of students’ postings (p. 416). For this study, a numerical score was assigned to each posting. Bloom’s taxonomy was selected as a means for determining posting quality because of the familiarity of that tool with the students. In addition, a rubric was constructed to serve as a concrete tool for both student and instructor feedback scoring of weekly postings. Once completed, all peer feedback, was channeled through the instructors prior to being distributed (p. 418). Operating in this manner provided the instructors the opportunity to review the student feedback, handle any problematic student feedback, and ensure study anonymity. For data purposes, quantitative and qualitative data were collected via student interviews, rubric ratings on weekly discussion posts as well as responses to entry and exit surveys. The study findings indicated that although participants’ perceptions of the importance of feedback in an online course significantly increased from the beginning of the course to the end, the participants continued to believe that instructor feedback was more important than peer feedback (p. 425).

This study has significant merit to the current and future landscape of peer feedback as a value-added instructional strategy for online learning courses. In order to better understand the value however, it is important to take a step back and review what makes peer review as a process so important instructionally. Peer review is closely related to self-assessment and encourages students to take an active, reflective role in learning, which promotes advanced critical thinking and higher-order cognitive skills (Lui & Carless, 2006; Topping, 1998). Furthermore, as a peer reviewer, students develop problem-solving skills because they must analyze, clarify and correct each other’s work through identifying areas needing improvement and providing constructive recommendations (Dochy et al., 1999; Somerville, 1993). From the opposite lens of peer reviewee, students must digest a diversity of viewpoints which helps them to clarify their grasp of the content and enhances their ability to select ‘good evidence’ (Biggs & Tang, 2007, p. 187). It is through these meaningful interactions with peers that students can grow an impressive array of skills that not only impact their classroom learning, but also their future workplace environment. Thus, the “why” of peer feedback is grounded in solid research footing. The answer to the “how” becomes a critical question that must be addressed by future researchers soon in order to change the mindset of online learners and their uncertain perceptions about the effectiveness of peer feedback.

From an online educator perspective, this study serves as an important reminder for the need to fully plan and prepare before undertaking and utilizing this type of feedback in a digital environment. Not only is the instructor workload impacted, but there are other critical components of the online peer feedback process that need to be addressed up front. These components include development of a peer review protocol and rubric, beginning of course training for students on the process and tools, finding a software tool or web-based tool that can capture all postings and feedback efficiently with anonymity, determining the role grading will play, etc. Through reviewing this study, and other current online peer review studies, the educational impacts can be quite positive for the students. These include gaining diverse perspectives on the content being studied, receiving timely and frequent feedback, developing a deeper level of content understanding, growing 21st Century skills that are valued in the workplace, etc. In the end, several studies have shown that peers are capable of providing reliable feedback that is of equal value to that provided by the instructor (Cho et al., 2006; Gielen et al., 2010). The online peer review process is quite complex and definitely merits further studies to more fully understand the interplay between the students, instructors, the learning, the class work, the grades, and tech technology tools to move this value-added pedagogical practice forward.

Works Cited

  • Biggs, J., & Tang C. (2007). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Berkshire: Open University Press.
  • Cho, K., Schunn, C. D., & Wilson, R. W. (2006). Validity and reliability of scaffolded peer assessment in writing from instructor and student perspectives. Journal of Educational Pyschology, 98(4), 891-901.
  • Dochy, F., Segers, M., & Sluijsmans, D. (1999). The use of self-, peer and co-assessment in higher education: A review. Studies in Higher Education, 24(3), 331-350.
  • Gielen S., Tops, L., Dochy, F., Onghena, P., & Smeets, S. (2010). A comparative study of peer and teacher feedback and of various peer feedback forms in a secondary school writing curriculum. British Educational Research Journal, 36(1), 143-62.
  • Liu, N. F., & Carless, D. (2006). Peer feedback: The learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 279-90.
  • Somerville, H. (1993). Issues in assessment, enterprise and higher education: The case of self-, peer and collaborative assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 18(3), 221-33.
  • Topping, K. (1998). Peer assessment between students in colleges and universities. Review of Educational Research, 68(3), 249-276.

New Literacies – Web 2.0 and Beyond

Leu, D. J., & Forzani, E. (2012). New literacies in a Web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, …∞ world. Research in the Schools, 19(1), 75-81.

The authors presented a multifaceted description of many new literacies and issues that have evolved due to the rapid emergence of the Internet and its applications in education. Leu & Forzani showcase a wide variety of articles to articulate the changing landscape and provide their analysis to tell the new literacy story. The articles selected revolved around adolescents and social media, the home and school involvement of young children in digital spaces, the usage of tools and literacies in an ELA classroom, the 21st Century literacies in Teacher Education, reading multimodal texts, and much more.

This review of articles can either be viewed as fascinating and enriching or overwhelming and not achievable to an educator. However, when these articles are placed in context, it becomes quite obvious that these new literacies are only the tip of the iceberg. The authors illustrated in their review that literacy can mean many things to many people, but that these new literacies have the potential to make the teaching and learning environment very rich and robust.

As I personally read this article, I appreciated the concept of the “turn-around” pedagogy as a strategy for reconnecting youth with the academic literacies of school and plan on talking to some of the middle school teachers in our district about this approach. Another concept in this article that caught my eye, is the important need to document literacy acquisition of our youngest learners as they experience digital media and traditional forms of literacy simultaneously. Our district currently runs a “best fit” program for all Kindergarteners as well as offering a personalized digital platform to work on reading and math literacies. Spending some time looking at the data we are receiving and perhaps talking to both the teachers and students can broaden my understanding of how students acquire skills in this digital age. Finally, one other concept that continues to be a topic of discussion in our district and also appeared in this article revolved around teachers as designers. For teachers to continue to grow in this area, they will need a framework to help categorize and conceptualize new online literacies. At the present time, TPACK could serve this purpose. Overall, the Internet plays a powerful role in the teaching and learning process and requires educators to embrace what it has to offer today, tomorrow and in the future.

Improving Online Motivation Through Emails

Huett, J. B., Kalinowski, K. E., Moller, L., & Huett, K. C. (2008). Improving the motivation and retention of online students through the use of ARCS-based e-mails. The American Journal of Distance Education, 22, 159-176.

Huett et al., created a study to examine how periodic mass email messages could improve the motivation and retention of students enrolled in an online course. They felt there are significant challenges when it comes to retaining online learners and were searching for a simpler approach to motivating those learners in a cost-effective way, fit within the time constraints of the class or for the teacher, and could be seamlessly integrated into the teaching and learning process (p. 160). The authors selected the ARCS model as the overall framework for creating the motivational mass emails because the approach attempts to synthesis behavioral, cognitive, and affective learning theories and demonstrates that learner motivation can be influenced through external conditions (Huett et al., 2008). Through their research, studies have cited that motivation can account for 16% to 38% of the variations in overall student achievement (Means et al., 1997), thus the importance of designing appealing instruction to manipulate learner motivation for online learning courses.

According to the authors, there has been little research in using the ARCS model for motivational messaging in online learning. I do believe there is value in studying this phenomena as a potential mass intervention to improve learner motivation and performance in an online learning environment. The ARCS model is quite comprehensive and broken down into two parts. The first part of the model is a set of categories (attention, relevance, confidence, satisfaction) that represent the components of motivation and the second part of the model is a systematic design process that assists in creating motivational enhancements that are appropriate for a given set of learners. Overall, the study revealed that there was a statistical difference in means between students receiving the treatment and those who did not receive the treatment. In fact, Huett et al., highlighted that there was a statistical difference in every measure of motivation except relevance in the study and explained why given the nature of the treatment that their results made sense (p. 171). Additionally, the study yielded greater student retention as well as a lower student failure rate for the treatment group. Any positive findings related to new motivation and retention strategies should warrant further studies.

In my district, we do offer online learning courses for students who need credit recovery, a class that is not offered for a specific hour or trimester and/or for a class generally not offered. The program is administered through our Alternative High School and students who participate must take their online classes within the school district in designated locations during the school year. Although the online programming is somewhat manageable now, as the number of students requesting online classes continues to grow, I feel it is important to develop a set of strategies and interventions to support a multitude of learners and realize that not all communication exchanges can be personalized each and every time. This study gives pause to current and future practice and potentially represents another tool to use to complement our current efforts.

Means, T., Jonassen, D., & Delaney, H.D. (1997). Enhancing relevance: Embedded ARCS strategies vs. purpose. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45, 5-17.

On My Mind…Higher Ed. Online Learning

As more and more K-12 institutions consider adding online learning courses to their learning pathways, it becomes more important to read about the reasons for heading this route i.e., what are the lessons learned, how institutions should prepare for the shift, what constitutes learner readiness, what courses yield better results, what training should be provided to teachers, etc. With the online learning movement spreading to the K-12 industry, now is the time to study the good, bad and ugly. Higher Ed. institutions had to cross the teaching/learning chasm a few years ago in order to retain students, meet diverse student learning styles & other needs, secure highly qualified instructors, and keep costs contained to name a few. Listed below are some initial readings to begin to gain a better understanding of the underpinnings and frameworks needed to support online learning:

  • Abrami, P. C., Bernard, R. M., Bures, E. M., Borokhovski, E., Tamim, R. M. (2011). Interaction in distance education and online learning: Using evidence and theory to improve practice. Journal of Computer in Higher Education, 23(2), 82-103.
  • Dikkers, A. G. (2015). The intersection of online and face-to-face teaching: Implications for virtual school teacher practice and professional development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 47(3), 139-156.
  • King, S. E., Arnold, K. C. (2012). Blended learning environments in higher education: A case study of how professors make it happen. Mid-Western Educational Research, 25(1/2), 44-59.
  • McDonald, P. L., Straker, H. O., Schlumpf, K. S., Plack, M. M. (2014). Learning partnership: Students and faculty learning together to facilitate reflection and higher order thinking in a blended course. Online Learning Journal, 18(4), 1-22.
  • Picciano, A. G., Seaman, J., Shea P., Swan, K. (2012). Examining the extent and nature of online learning in american K-12 education: The research initiatives of the Alfred P. Sloan foundation. Internet and Higher Education, 15, 127-135.
  • Reece, S. A. (2015). Online learning environments in higher education: Connectivism vs. dissociation. Education and Information Technologies, 20(3), 579-588.
  • Richardson, J. C., Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), 68-88.
  • Smith, S. J., Basham, J., Rice, M. F., Carter Jr., R. A. (2016). Preparing special educators for K-12 online learning environments: A survey of teacher educators. Journal of Special Education Technology, 31(3), 170-178.
  • Vaughan, N. (2007). Perspectives on blended learning in higher education. International Journal on E-Learning, 6(1), 81-94.

Virtual Technology Coach

Sugar, W., Slagter van Tryon P. J. (2014). Development of a virtual technology coach to support technology integration for K-12 educators. TechTrends, 58(3), 54-62.

This article attempts to offer a possible non-traditional solution to meeting the needs of K-12 districts in their quest to provide ongoing technology integration professional development. The authors explored the development of a virtual technology coach position to help teachers incorporate new knowledge and skills related to technology integration into classroom practice both short and long term. According to Sugar and Slagter, a coach creates a non-confrontational environment where teachers can share their thoughts, instructional practices, and generally learn from one another. Additionally, the article highlights how important continual professional development as opposed to a one-time workshop has been deemed more effective in supporting teachers’ abilities to learn about new teaching strategies, new technologies and other ways to change their classrooms. For the study, the authors created and issued a survey to sixty teachers to find out what benefits and services a virtual technology coach could provide in an online setting. Additionally, the research included teacher prototyping sessions to develop an initial set of virtual assistant qualities and resources. The study analysis yielded seven main themes of need for a virtual assistant support including: collaboration, discussion, learning, news, profile, sharing and technical.

As K-12 school systems continue to purchase large quantities of technology for teaching and learning as well as reshaping/updating instructional strategies, there is definitely a need to develop a learning community for collaboration, sharing, teaching, tech integration, etc. Sugar and Slagter’s thinking about a virtual technology coach is in alignment with the International Society for Training and Education (ISTE) white paper on Technology, Coaching and Community as well as the NETS-C (coach) standards. The authors work does bring value and vision to the possibility of what a next-generation school employee might look like – possibly virtual! The real question becomes, should this new job position be an online tool called a virtual technology coach or an actual person acting as a virtual technology coach on call or facilitating learning communities from a remote location?

The district I work in does not have any instructional coaches. Teachers collaborate, provide training and generally support one another during school hours. The district does provide teachers leadership opportunities and curriculum days to learn or train others, but overall our school system is considered a flat organization structurally. The district maintains a lean organizational structure so that the high-quality and cutting-edge student programming can be offered at the highest possible level. This article really accentuates a potential new future for how to best support teachers in their transformational teaching and learning practices. I feel this concept of virtual technology assistant is just another lever of Clay Christensen’s Disruptive Education framework. Only time will tell if this non-traditional solution can become a reality in a K-12 setting!

TPACK: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge

Misha, P., Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technology pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

The authors proposed a conceptual framework as a way of thinking about effective technology integration and specifically the knowledge associated with integrating technology effectively into learning environments. Constructed as an extension of Shulman’s (1986) formulation of “pedagogical content knowledge”, the Mishra and Koehler framework is known as Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge or TPACK. This model showcases the interweaving of all three key sources of knowledge: technology, pedagogy, and content. As highlighted in the article, there is a critical need to have a conceptually based theoretical framework about the relationship between technology and teaching that can transform the conceptualization and practice of teacher education, teacher training and teacher professional development (p. 1019). Especially so, since teaching is a complex cognitive skill occurring in a dynamic, interrelated and sometimes ill-structured environment.

This model has revolutionized how some teachers, districts and higher-education organizations view, support and justify technology integration. High-quality teaching requires a deep understanding of the complex relationship that exists between pedagogy, content and technology. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all with regard to technology solutions for classroom teaching and learning. Mishra and Koehler suggest that TPACK serves as a great resource to guide the design of curriculum in an approach they call learning technology by design. The authors suggest that this framework allows teachers to tease apart some of the key issues that are necessary for scholarly dialogue about educational technology classroom integration (p.1046). Having a better handle on how technology supports the learning environment can afford students better opportunities to transcend the passive learner role and instead take control of learning through authentic and engaging ill-structured problems that reflect a complexity of the real world (p. 1035).

Personally, I have been training teachers on integrating technology into their classrooms for over nine years. My first year in the position, I continued the district-driven, skills-based approach to teacher technology training. In year two, I quickly realized that teaching just the technology tool skills had little to no impact back in the classroom even though that’s exactly what the teachers wanted. Through a variety of learning frameworks including TPACK, the district moved to a messy professional development model that is content-driven, pedagogically supported and technologically enhanced. Teachers come to training to have the tough conversations, work on their perceptions and/or fears, developed sound instructional units and “play” around with the content-pedagogy-technology relationship. We still have a long way to go as a district, but we are having the best and deepest conversations about effective technology integration these past couple of years. TPACK is a great conceptual framework that our teachers can reference, easily relate to and work through to construct new ways to teach and learn.

 

 

 

 

On My Mind…TPACK Model

This week’s EDU800 readings revolved around the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge developed by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler (2005). Their framework most famously known as TPACK was built to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge that teachers need to employ for effective pedagogical practice in a technology enhanced or mediated learning environment. The TPACK framework examines the relationships between pedagogy, content and technology. The articles listed below provide a point of view about the TPACK contextual factors through the lens of specific grade levels, departments or programs:

  • Blackwell, C., Lauricella, A., Wartella, E. (2016). The influence of TPACK contextual factors on early childhood educators’ tablet computer use. Computers & Education, 98, 57-69.
  • Jang, S., Tasi, M. (2013). Exploring the TPACK of Taiwanese secondary school science teachers using a new contextualized TPACK model. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(4), 566-580.
  • Olofson, M., Swallow, M., Neumann, M. (2016). TPACKing: A constructivist framing of TPACK to analyze teachers’ construction of knowledge. Computers & Education, 95, 188-201.
  • Smith, S. (2013/2014). Through the teacher’s eyes: Unpacking the TPACK of digital fabrication integration in middle school language arts. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(2), 207-227.
  • Wetzel, K., Marshall, S. (2011-12). TPACK goes to sixth grade: Lessons from a middle school teacher in a high-technology-access classroom. International Society for Technology in Education, 28(2), 73-81.