donderdag 20 oktober 2011


Figure 1. TPACK model
Today I will talk about TPACK. This is a model designed by Koehler & Mishra (2009). Like you can see in figure 1 there are 3 parts in the TPACK model. 
There is the Technology part (T),  the Pedagogy part (P) and the Content part (C). The K stands for Knowledge and the A stands for And, to put the different parts together. So if you say it you get: Technology, Pedagogy And Content Knowledge. But what does this all mean? Well the model is about the knowledge teachers must have when they want to use technology in their classroom. Like with the spiderweb of Akkerman (2009), if one thing changes all the other things change too. So adding a technology into your lessons will also affect your pedagogy and the content.  According to the model, the teacher should have knowledge about the technology. This is knowledge about how it works and what you can do with it. Also the teacher should have knowledge about the pedagogy. Which pedagogy will the teacher use, how does this pedagogy work and when will you use it? And of course the teacher should know the content. What must the students learn? So there are three kinds of knowledge the teacher should have and the most important thing is, the teacher has to combine these three. As you can see there is overlap between two parts which gives you: Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) and Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). To explain what these mean I will give you an example we came up with in our lecture.
Figure 2. Seek 'n Spell game
As content we choose spelling. As technology we choose de game ‘seek ‘n spell’. We knew this game because of the previous lecture, where some students tried the game. In this game the student has a Smartphone with GPS. With this phone he walks around for example a park. With the GPS the student can find letters in the park, as you can see in figure 2. With these letters the student has to make words and earn points. So the game is about finding letters and making words with it, perfect for practicing spelling. The pedagogy we choose is collaborative learning and discovery learning. Collaborative because you play it in a group. Discovery learning, because you have to discover words yourself and find them yourself. So we have spelling, the game seek ‘n spell and the pedagogies collaborative and discovery learning. Now if we combine these what do we get? We came up with this:
TPK: the teacher has to know how to work with a Smartphone in groups. There probably won’t be a Smartphone for everyone, so the students will use one phone with two or three people. The teacher has to figure out how to do this with switching roles or working together.
TCK: the teacher has to know how the technology works with the content, so how to make a word from the letters on the screen. What do you have to do?
PCK: there should be discussions and problem solving during the lessons to solve the problem to make a word from the lessons. 
And combining these all together you get TPACK: the teacher should play it for itself, to figure out how the technology works. Also must the teacher figure out how to work together and what the added value of the lesson is. To totally make sure it works the teacher has to try it out in a lesson and after that reflect. Then the teacher can decide making the lesson better and using it again or never do it again because it failed. This way the teacher gets knowledge about the technology, the pedagogy he uses and the content.
So TPACK is really about combining the knowledge from all the different domains. But as you can see in the picture, is this all within the context! This is a real important part of the model. If something works in one situation, this does not mean it will also work in another situation. With young children you will use other technology or pedagogies than with adult people. So when adding technology and thinking about all the aspects of TPACK, it is important to think of this within the context you want to use it.

But what is the added value of the model? I think it is mostly the insight into the importance of the different domains. Many people think technology is only used as tool. So a normal lesson and the technology to support it. Like the Koehler & Mishra gave as an example in this video:
Adding technology to your education is not just the normal lecture now showing online. It is not just a pipeline. Technology should be used to improve education and changing it and that is what the TPACK model explains. It shows that the T, P and C all hang together. If you change one thing, the others should adapt to that, otherwise it won’t fit with each other.
Trying to use the TPACK model yourself will be the best way to experience what TPACK means and what the added value is. In my previous blog I talked about combining flexibility, technology and pedagogical approaches. I then thought that is quite easy. But now in the lecture I had to think about a lesson with TPACK. This is also about technology and pedagogy. Only content is added and TPACK isn’t really about flexibility, but this is part of the pedagogy part of the model.  So the TPACK model is a way to combine flexibility, technology and pedagogical approaches. When I tried this, it was quite hard. Coming up with the technology, content and pedagogy is not that hard. But combining them into TPK, TCK and PCK and at the end in TPACK was quite hard, I think. So for me the added value of the TPACK model is realizing how hard it is to make a good lesson with technology. And how much time it cost a teacher to do this. As educational scientist it is easy to say what the teachers should do and know, but by trying to use the TPACK model you realize how hard it is and how much time it takes. The example I gave was pretty easy. We figured it out in 10 minutes, so it isn’t really thought through. Although in the TPACK model the TPK is about how pedagogies change because of the technology you use or the other way around. In my example we first choose the technology and then looked which pedagogy fits with it. But did the pedagogy change because we used that technology compared to not using the technology or using another technology? The same question for the technological content knowledge. We choose a game that is about making words, but that is not all about spelling students have to learn. So does the content now change because of the technology?  It are both questions we didn’t think about yet, but you do have to think about when using TPACK. The way we thought of it is thus not all, TPACK is a lot more. This shows how difficult it is and time it cost, I think. But also how good it makes you realize what you have to think about.

Conclusion, I think the TPACK model is a way to emphasize the importance of the integration of the different domains. Also it gives you something to hold on when designing a lesson. It is hard and takes a lot of time, but you also better think about the different parts then without the model. It is a way to combine the things I learned in the previous lectures, about technology, pedagogy and flexibility.

If you ever tried to use it, I’m curious how you felt. Did you also think it was hard, or not? Please let me know if you have experience with it!

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.
Thijs, A. & Van den Akker, J.J.H. (2009) Curriculum in development. Enschede: SLO.

maandag 17 oktober 2011

Combining Flexibility, Technology and Pedagogical approaches

In my blogs I have been talking about flexibility, pedagogical approaches and technology. But not about all of them together. I talked about flexibility and combining this with technology. The same for pedagogical approaches and also I tried some technological tools. Now the question is, what about combining these three?

I think combining pedagogical approaches, flexibility and technology is not that difficult. You start with choosing your pedagogical approach, or maybe a few approaches you want to use. Then you look what kind of flexibility will fit with this approach. Then you add a technology. You can do this yourself or you can make this flexible and let the students choose.

An example. As pedagogical approach you choose collaborative learning, it is about learning together. You can make this flexible related to the content or even to delivery and logistics. If for example the students have to write a paper together, they can be flexible about the topic of the paper, when they work together, were they work together etc. So it is really easy to make the pedagogical approach you use flexible. Adding technology is something that can again be flexible or maybe be chosen by the teacher. In the example, technologies that can be used are computers, using the internet or something like dropbox or blackboard to share your documents. Also a beamer and a screen are technologies that can be used when the students have to present the content of their paper.

So as you see in the example, it is pretty easy to come up with a combination of the three. As long as you make sure they fit together it isn’t a problem. Also it is possible to choose different pedagogies, flexibilities and technologies during your course or lessons. This is exactly what in the course ‘pedagogies for flexible learning supported by technolgy’ the teacher does, at least I think. She uses different pedagogies in the lessons: traditional learning to explain the content, collaborative learning when discussing topics or doing an assignment, problem-based learning by giving us a problem and collaboratively think about it, and so on. Also the flexibility varies. There are a few deadlines and we have lectures every week, so that is not flexible. But we are flexible in when we do our assignment, with whom we work together, were we work on our assignment and so on. And at last she uses different kinds of technologies. In the lectures she uses a beamer, a computer, a simulation, sometimes a video and tools we had to look into. At home she uses facebook and blackboard to communicate with us. As you can see, it are all different pedagogies, flexibilities and technologies that are used. This makes the course a good example that it is possible to combine the three and that there are different ways to do this.

Later this week I will talk more about this, after we discussed this topic in the lecture!

donderdag 13 oktober 2011

Cool Tools 4 School

Yesterday in college we got to play with technology. Not just listening to the teacher, but playing with tools! I really liked it, because now I could do something myself and the time was flying.
We were in groups of 3 and choose 1 category from the site  Within this category (our case drawing tools) we had to look to the different tools and find out how it works and see what the strengths and weaknesses are.  I already had one problem there. I didn’t had a laptop, so I got the iPad of the teacher. But there was one problem with the I-pad, most of the tools needed Flash player, so didn’t work on the iPad. If you think about education, giving all your students an I-pad isn’t really smart. Then there will be a lot of cool tools and games they can’t play. Thus my first conclusion of the day was: if you want to integrate technology in the class and use nice tools, don’t buy iPad’s but use normal computers or laptops.
Looking at the tools itself it was really nice. We found some nice tools to really easy build a house or make a word cloud. The other groups also found nice tools to practice the tables or making a photo presentation. One group found a real helpful one: dropbox. It is different from the other tools, because it isn’t something to learn from or play with. Even though dropbox is a really cool tool to use in school if you want to share documents. I also use it for my commission of the sport club, it is really easy and nice.
So what we found were a lot of different tools we didn’t know. I learned some new tools and learned there are more tools than I thought there would be. All the tools we found have a few weaknesses and are maybe not really appropriate for schools, but some of them are. And all the tools were really easy. For education this means teachers have to know which tools there are, so they can use them. I think most of the teachers don’t know all the possibilities and that’s why they aren’t using them. If someone can show them all the possibilities and show that it isn’t difficult to use, then they probably will use it in class. Maybe they can put it on the school page, so the children can play the games or use the tools at home. Than the teacher doesn’t have to use it in the class, but the children will still be able to use it. Some school in Enschede Zuid already have an internal school page were you can find games and tools the children can use in the free computer time they get at school. I think that’s a really nice way to use the technology and let the children play en choose themselves.
Oh and iPads are fun to use, but not really handy when you want to use tools that need flashplayer!

maandag 10 oktober 2011

SimSchool - Pedagogy and Technology

Last week I got to know SimSchool. This is a simulation of a classroom where you can practice with teaching.  In the simulation you can give different tasks to different students and also say or ask something to them. As the developers of SimSchool say: ‘SimSchool is like a flight simulator for educators’. It is a place where teachers can explore different kind of pedagogies, discover the difference between students and see the result of their teaching. In SimSchool the time goes faster, so 1 minute lesson time is 10 seconds real time. This way you can in a short time practice a lot and figure out which kind of pedagogies fit whit which kind of student. In figure 1you can see what SimSchool looks like. In this module there are only two students. In figure 1 Everly is selected and now you can assign a task to Everly or talk to him. While the simulation is running you can see how he is performing. Right now he is listening, his power, happiness and academic skills (graphics below) are zero. If you assign a task to Everly you can see these graphics change. And if the bar next to his head is full, he can’t learn anything more and you have to assign a new task.

Figure 1 - SimSchool

To try it out I played the module ‘Everly’s bad day’.  In this module there is a certain lesson plan. In this plan there are three task each taking 15 minutes. The tasks are: go over last week’s lesson, take notes during lecture and take an oral quiz. If you use this plan, Everely doesn’t perform well. Your task is to find out when he does perform well. I noticed Everely likes to work with someone. Also he needs someone who will encourage him. So I changed the tasks and when he got disruptive I asked him to get back to work or if he needed my help. The tasks I assigned where: Oral quiz,  a whole class oral response,  compare and contrast, a team work sheet and play a game. The sentenced I used where: get back to work now, are you doing what I asked?,  do I need to show you?, do you need my help?, can you tell me what you know? After 45 minutes I ended the simulation. The results turned out to be very good. And looked like figure 2. So I experienced that changing the plan was really positive for Everly.
Figure 2 - Results simulation

This experience with SimSchool made me think about this way of learning teachers how to teach. I think SimSchool is a good way to let teachers think about different pedagogies that they could apply in their classroom. Only you don’t know exactly what the students are doing. What does ‘do an oral quiz’ mean? And also aren’t there really much possibilities when you want to talk to the students. Most of the time the thing you really want to say isn’t in the options of the simulation. Also letting every student do another thing is possible here, but that’s not realistic. And last I think school doesn’t have to be fun all the time. I noticed that only specific tasks got Everly studying and his academic abilities up, while I think also the things he doesn’t like he should do sometimes in class. So there are few things that aren’t really realistic in the simulation and this makes it difficult to use it in teacher education. It is a good start, but you can’t learn everything with it. I think this could function as an introduction of the teacher education course, so they can think about different pedagogies and experience the difference between students. But to really learn this you still need to practice in reality and something like SimSchool can function as additional help material.
Thinking about a combination of pedagogy and technology, I think there are a lot possibilities. First of all you almost never use only one pedagogy. If you use problem-based learning you can also use collaborative learning and it can at the same time be project-based learning. So you can’t name technologies that fit with a specific pedagogy, they can fit with different pedagogies. SimSchool is a technology that supports learning different pedagogies and experiencing what the effect is. But when you are using a pedagogy in the class you can also use technology, like with discovery learning you can use mobile phones to learn. Or even with traditional learning you can use a whiteboard and a beamer.  When you talk about teacher education you can still use these technologies and let the students use it themselves. If the students of for example the Dutch Pabo want to learn how to apply collaborative learning, they can do it themselves. Let them work collaboratively and let them choose a technology they want to use. This way they can experiment with it themselves and learn how it works. For this collaborative learning they can use blackboard or a wiki to share their ideas. This way they learn the pedagogy by using it themselves and also experience which technologies are useful and which are not.
Boer (2004) says: ‘it is important that the pedagogy models in teaching are not technology driven, although technology can provide options for stretching the mold’. I think the same. If you want something and it is useful to use technology, please do it. But don’t use technology just to use it. First choose how you want to teach, which kind of pedagogy and then look if there is a useful technology. If there is not, then don’t use technology.

So to come back to SimSchool. I thinks SimSchool is a good tool to start with, but isn’t realistic enough to do everything with. To learn the different pedagogies and combine these with technology, it is best to try it out yourself and experience it. Not only in a simulation but also in real life. Than the teachers know the best what a different pedagogy means and how it works. For every pedagogy there are different technologies you can use, easy or complex ones, everything is possible. As long as you make sure it fits with the students, the content you want them to learn and you can work with it yourself. Only don’t start with a complex online learning environment if you don’t know how it works, then start with the simple version. And if you don't agree, let me know! Maybe we can have a discussion about this topic!

See SimSchool at:
Reference: 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.

dinsdag 4 oktober 2011

Pedagogical approaches in games

I found an article of Kebritchi and HIrumi in which they describe five different theories of instruction in games. They examined 50 games and discovered five different approaches. Namely: direct, experiential, situated, discovery/inquiry and constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. They describe all these different approaches and some of the approaches even have different kinds. Like discovery learning is split up into discovery learning and guided-discovery and inquiry-based learning. So there are lot of different approaches used in games.

I think this is an interesting article, because it not only describes different pedagogical approaches. It describes approaches that are found in games and I’m interested in games. Now the next question is which approach fits the best in a educational or serious game. Another of my courses is about games, so this way I can combine the different courses.

Kebritchi, M. & Hirumi, A. (2008). Examining the pedagogical foundations of modern educational computer games. Computers & Education, 51, 1729-1743.

maandag 3 oktober 2011


In the course pedagogies for flexible learning supported by technology we talk about flexibility. A lot of people think about distance learning when they talk about flexible learning. In the class we also discussed it and we thought of many more other things that are also part of flexible learning. Like Collis & Moonen (2001) say: “it’s not just about distance”. To explain this, here I will describe 5 kinds of flexibility. Also I will give a web-based technology that supports flexibility.  

Collis & Moonen (2001) describe flexibility related to 5 different things. These are: time, content, entry requirements, instructional approach and resources, delivery and logistics. So this are 5 kinds of flexibility. I will describe all these kind of flexibilities and also give my opinion about how easy it would be to implement this in a course or study.

Flexibility related to time
Flexibility related to time is about the time a course starts of finishes. But it is also about the time you interact with each other. Like at which time the lecture of the course is. Time is also about the tempo of studying and the moments of assessment. So time is really about when. If a course has a lecture every week at a specific time, this is not flexible. Also if it starts and ends at a specific moment and there are deadlines for assignments, it is not flexible. Making time flexible is very difficult in a course. If you want to have lectures and meet with the students, this has to be at a specific time. Otherwise not everybody can be there. Making the start and end of a course more flexible is easier. If a student needs more time and ends later, this doesn’t have to be a problem. As long as the teacher is able to follow the student for that long and if the student doesn’t need to finish this course before starting a new course that starts at a specific moment. So time is difficult to make flexible if there are lectures or meetings and if the course is needed to finish before starting a new one.

Flexibility related to content
The content can also be flexible. The content is about the topics of the course, the sequence of the different topics, the orientation of te course, the learning materials and the assessment standard and completion requirements. Also the program and study materials are part of the content. If a course wants to be flexible in the content, the students must be able to choose about which topics they want to learn, which topic should be the biggest and which the smallest and also what materials they use should be flexible. For a course this is pretty difficult. Starting a course, it should be clear what the course is about. Especially if students have to choose the course, they should know what it is about. So the students can’t be totally free in choosing the topic. Also the teacher has to be able to teach about the topic, so the overall topic should be clear. Within the course it could be free to the students to choose in which sequence the sub-topics will be discussed in the course. With the study materials it is possible to give the student a chance to choose. If there are different options, you can let the student choose. The assessment is more difficult, because it should measure  if the students have learnt something and it should fit with the content of the course. If the students can choose their assessment it may not fit with the course and it maybe will be too easy to finish the course. So the content is a kind of flexibility that can partly be used within courses, but it is difficult. Within a whole study it is easier to give flexibility by giving elective courses, so the students can choose their own courses and so choose what they will learn.

Flexibility related to entry requirements
This kind of flexibility is real short, it are just the conditions for participation. If there are different things that you must have done or different diploma’s you need to participate in a special course or study. For courses it is easy to be flexible. You can say, everyone who want can join. It than is your own responsibility to make sure you have the knowledge needed to follow the course. For studies it is more difficult. Someone who didn’t finish high school can’t go to university. If there is too much flexibility by entering a study, it is possible a lot of students that aren’t capable enough or doesn’t have te right knowledge will start the study. If that happens, a lot will quit and that’s not what you want. So to make sure the students will be capable enough to do a study, you can’t be too flexible with the entry requirements.

Flexibility related to instructional  approach and resources
This is about the social organization of learning, the language that is used, the learning resources and instructional organization of learning. So do you meet every week to talk to each other or do you meet through video conferencing or don’t you meet at al. Also the language is a kind of flexibility and is part of the form of communication. Not only the language is a form of communication, but also if it is face to face or through pen and paper or skype or e-mail etc. A blog like this is also a form of communication. The learning resources I spoke about earlier, when talking about the study material. The learning resources can be books, the internet, newspapers, everything. So that is something that can be really flexible. The instructional organization of learning is about how the teacher gives the instruction. Explaining the content for the whole group or let the students figure it out themselves. It are all different possibilities and things that can be flexible. I think this kind of flexibility isn’t that hard to offer. Letting students choose which language they speak, if they want to see each other in class or talk through e-mail, a blog or anything is something you can easy let the students choose. At the course integrating technology in school that is also what happened. We could choose through which media we wanted to share our ideas. Also the materials we use are a little flexible. We have to search for literature. What kind of literature and from where is up to ourselves. So it is possible to make it flexible. But to make everything flexible isn’t possible I think, because than it would be a mess. There has te be a certain structure and someone has to decide, because everyone choosing what he or she want is not possible in a group of 20 people.

Flexibility related to delivery and logistics
The last kind of flexibility is about the time and place, the methods, technology and making contact. Also the types of help, location and delivery channels. So it is about where the course is, when and how. You can say everything that is said above is in here. Again it is about the time, it is about the location, where you will follow the course or the study. Also it is about the method, so the learning materials but also the instructional organization is part of the method. The type of help is also part of the instructional organization and the delivery channels is about the technology that is used. How do you share the information and how do you communicate. All these things are about the same as above and I think it is possible to make it flexible. The time is a little bit different, but the location is easier. You can study at home and follow everything through skype or videoconference. Also the channels to share information can be flexible and you can let the students choose.

I found an example of an technology that can support flexible learning. It is an learning platform. It is called its learning. Here is explained what it is:
As you can see it is student-centered and it give space for individual learning plans, so everyone can choose his own study plan. In the picture you can see what it looks like. On the Dutch site you can see some more pictures: 
its learning

So I think flexible learning is in some ways possible, but not always. Too much flexibility can give problems and make the learning too difficult. If you think otherwise, let me know and maybe you can change my mind!

Reference: Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001, second printing 2002). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.