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ELPC Teacher Roles – The TPACK model March 1, 2010

Posted by teachandreflect in Uncategorized.
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Already in our first few tutes in ELPC, I’ve found the recurring theme in our discussions to be that of non-ICT savvy novice teachers feeling pressure to meet seemingly unrealistic expectations to teach in an ICT-supported fashion. I have to admit that this has been my initial fight-or-flight response to ELPC, even though rationally I see the need for trainee teachers to engage with this emerging aspect of their profession (more on this later).First things first – are we right to believe that an engagement with ICT-supported teaching is expected of us? If so, how and from whom are these expectations being generated? 

If our first few weeks of teacher training at UC has been anything to go by, the expectation is real alright. Our Enhanced Learning in Professional Contexts lecture left us in no doubt that, in that unit at least, we would be confronting our darkest ICT fears. Meanwhile, in another lecture delivered by the chief Grad Dip course convenor, we were introduced immediately to the following pedagogy model – Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK):  

   

If this is the model being suggested by the UC Teacher Education leadership in 2010 to frame our overall approach to pedagogy, then it is worthy of further reflection when considering this initial ELPC research task.  The TPACK model is perhaps best articulated in http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf   It is described as an overarching conceptual model bringing together five years of disparate research into the impact of the digital age on pedagogy models. The model is a departure from the earlier, limiting focus on individual aspects of pedagogy, such as viewing teachers’ knowledge of content, in isolation, as the key to effective teaching. By conceptually synergising not only teacher’s knowledge of content, but of pedagogy and technology as well,  Mishra and Koelher hope to provide an overarching theoretical framework for further research into ICT supported teaching and to draw attention generally to the  ‘the complex roles of, and interplay among’ these three main ‘ components of learning environments’ (2006:1017).Impact on teacher roles 

In order to apply their model in the classroom, Mishra and Koehler see teachers having to develop a ‘complex, situated form of knowledge’ (i.e. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) (2006:1017). 

This has significant implications for trainee teachers – as Mishra and Koehler note about currently employed teachers, not all have embraced the new technologies available even though the technology is ‘here to stay (Italics and Bolding are mine):  

“Though not all teachers have embraced these new technologies for a range of reasons—including a fear of change and lack of time and support—the fact that these technologies are here to stay cannot be doubted. Moreover, the rapid rate of evolution of these new digital technologies prevents them from becoming ‘‘transparent’’ any time soon. Teachers will have to do more than simply learn to use currently available tools; they also will have to learn new techniques and skills as current technologies become obsolete. This is a very different context from earlier conceptualizations of teacher knowledge, in which technologies were standardized and relatively stable. The use of technology for pedagogy of specific subject matter could be expected to remain relatively static over time. Thus, teachers could focus on the variables related to content and pedagogy and be assured that technological contexts would not change too dramatically over their career as a teacher. This new context has foregrounded technology in ways that could not have been imagined a few years ago. Thus, knowledge of technology becomes an important aspect of overall teacher knowledge.” (2006:1023-1024) 

 

 

The article goes on to make some very sound arguments about the need to avoid considering teachers’ Technological Knowledge in isolation (As was historically the case with Content Knowledge until studies such as those of Schulman demonstrated the power of combining Content Knowledge with Pedagogical Knowledge). This is very much the case with teacher training. Teachers should not be given training in new technologies for ‘learning’s sake’. Rather, for the most effective classroom application, Teachers should learn new technologies in away that combines this new knowledge with their learning in the areas of pedagogy and content.  

Further Questions 

At first glance, Mishra & Koelher’s conceptual model seems a logical way forward for helping new and existing teachers with what is at first a very confronting and overwhelming task. But the expectations placed upon teachers are considerable. Gone are the days of teachers learning just a few effective pedagogical tools and employing them with ever increasing confidence and mastery in the classroom over the course of a career. Before I can uncritically accept this position, I will have to investigate: 

  • scholarly arguments and evidence (if it exists) against the use of ICT in classrooms (this will be more convincing if there are studies demonstrating a negative correlation between ICT-supported teaching and academic results).
  •  some of the studies demonstrating quantitatively the benefits of ICT-supported teaching.

Looking further afield, I’ll also need to examine: 

  • any studies on how these new expectations are filtering through curricula, educational institutions and government policies, and
  • if there have been any studies examining how teachers are coping with such new expectations (presuming that they do indeed exist).
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