maandag 28 november 2011

Designing a professional development program: a reflection (part two)

As I already stated in my latest post, here I will reflect upon my experiences with working with TPACK and my ideas about how to stimulate teachers to integrate technology in education.

Working with TPACK
In this course it was the first time that I had to work with the TPACK model. Designing a good program to let teachers learn about TPACK was more difficult than I thought it would be. Since we had already a lot of lectures in which we discussed the model, I figured it would not be that difficult. But when we were busy with designing the program, it is hard to think up a good way in which teachers first will learn about TPACK and later on also gain the skills of using TPACK in their lessons. Ensuring that the teachers are able to integrate it in their own education is a real challenge. For the teachers it is a totally new way of designing a lesson, which teachers have not experienced before like in teacher-training for instance. They know how to make a design for a lesson but integrating all aspects of the TPACK model takes some time to learn. That is why it will take a lot of time for them to develop skills to really integrate TPACK in their lessons.
In a program to teach people about TPACK it is important to also measure their TPACK-skills in the beginning and at the end so you know the progress they made. In the program we designed, I think it was quite difficult to choose a good measurement tool. Since our target group is a foundation, the literature we received during the lecture about TPACK measurement did not really fit to our context. We also read that it is better to have a combination of instruments instead of just one instrument. We had already decided to use the questionnaire of Graham et al. (2009) and we could not find a good way to combine this questionnaire with another instrument. The other instruments we found or did not fit with our context or they measured the same as the questionnaire already chosen.
After choosing the questionnaire we had to make the decision for when the teachers would have to fill this in: before they were told about the TPACK model or after? We choose to let them fill in the questionnaire before telling them about TPACK, since the TPACK model might scare them off.

Now at the end of the course, my opinion about the TPACK model is still the same as in the post about the added value: ‘I think the TPACK model can be really useful to help teachers to make meaningful use of technology in education since teachers are forced to look at each individual aspect and how to combine these aspects.’ And I think for me it was a very nice experience to take a look at how the TPACK model could be used in practice by designing a professional development program ourselves. By working with it you can see how many factors you have to take into account if you want to design a useful program.

Stimulating teachers to integrate technology in education 
I think that it is a tough job to ensure teachers will integrate technology in their education. For example there are conservative teachers who have a negative view on technology which is hard to get rid of. Next to that, a lot of teachers do not feel confident when they have to adapt to a new method and it takes a lot of time before they build up sufficient confidence.
There are different ways to stimulate teachers to integrate technology in education. Important activities you have to do, are in my view:

  •      Show the teachers and let them experience it is not that difficult to use technology in their lessons. For example in one of the meetings in our program we invited a teacher who has already a lot of experience with using technology in his lessons and asked him to give a lesson and tell about his experiences. In this way the teachers can see that this person succeeded in using technology and in the lesson they can see that using it is not that difficult.
  •      Show the teachers the benefits of the use of technology in education. If we use the same example of the invited teacher: this teacher can also show how much fun it can be to use technology. In this way you can also show the benefits like learner motivation and creating new opportunities for the lessons. Also according to the five-stage model of Niess (2008) the first step in the process by which a person makes a decision to adopt or reject innovations should be showing that technology can contribute to their education.
  •     Providing guidance. I think it is important that the teachers are provided with clear guidelines so they can very easily try to use technology. A good guidance could be the TPACK model with a good explanation. Next to it is important that there is someone available to ask questions and who gives advice.
  •    Be careful with the pace of introducing new things. I think it is very important to introduce the new method step by step, since rushing can be very de-motivating for teachers. The teachers have to feel each step as a new challenge they can handle, because if they have the feeling it is too difficult their motivation will drop. You should try to avoid to pressurize the teachers and make them feel unconfident.  
 As you can see, in my opinion there are different aspects which are important for stimulating teachers to integrate technology. I think every time it will be a real challenge to ensure teachers are really integrating technology in their lessons. One of the basic ingredients is ‘enthusiasm’. I think this is true for every innovation. At the start there should be someone/a few people (and hopefully the school leader as well!) who is/are very motivated to use technology in the classroom. Like I stated before there also needs to be someone to show the benefits and that using technology is not that difficult.

How do you think about stimulating teachers? Did I leave out something important?

This is already my last post for this course. The way of working was totally new for me. But I can see that I really liked it. It surely is a nice way of working with technology which fits perfectly in a course focused on TPACK!

Graham, C. R., Burgoyne, N., Cantrell, P., Smith, L., St. Clair, L., & Harris, R. (2009). TPACK Development in Science Teaching: Measuring the TPACK Confidence of Inservice Science Teachers, TechTrends, Special Issue on TPACK, 53(5), 70-79.

Niess, M. L. (2008). Knowledge needed for teaching with technologies – Call it TPACK. AMTE Connections, 17(2), 9-10.

Designing a professional development program: a reflection (part one)

In this post I will reflect upon designing a professional development program. During the last couple of weeks, in a design team of three CIMA-students, we designed a professional development program. The target group for this voluntary program is 4, 5 and 6 grade teachers in Enschede, working at one of the 17 secondary schools belonging to foundation Skoe. The main goals of this program are to learn how to design a TPACK science lesson and experience using TPACK in science teaching. To reach these goals there are 10 meetings in which teachers have to collaborate in teacher teams supported by an instructor so they can share knowledge with each other and build new knowledge together. As educational designers we tried to make a very realistic program.
The reflection consists of three parts:
1.     The process of designing a professional development program;
2.     My experience with TPACK;
3.     My ideas about how to stimulate teachers to integrate technology in education.
In this post only number 1 is included; the other two parts will be placed in the next post. The reflection is divided in small paragraphs by the use of titles.

General view regarding the design process
At first I would like to say, that it is very nice to experience how you can integrate the literature, knowledge gathered during the lectures and some creativity in a design for a professional development program. In the end of the assignment I can tell you we were proud designers! I can also already tell you that it was not an easy job! But hey, then this reflection would not have been so interesting;-)

I experienced the start of the design process as a bit difficult since the assignment was stated very broadly which leaves open a lot of opportunities. This means that as designers you have to make a lot of important choices at the start. These choices are important because in the end there should be a coherent program and everything should be matched with each other, like in the Curricular spiderweb of Van den Akker (2011). The fact that there is no one best way for this design-assignment makes the start difficult, but on the other hand also leaves room for very creative solutions as shown during the presentations of all design teams.
The first step we took was choosing a context for the professional development program. We choose the foundation Skoe as our target group and with this choice the freedom and the boundaries regarding the possibilities of the program were to some amount determined. The fact that we choose a foundation made it possible for us to focus more on ‘knowledge sharing’ between teachers of different schools. On the other hand, it became more difficult to ensure each of the schools would really start using TPACK after finishing the program since you have a lot of schools to take care of. That is why we choose not to focus on ensuring that all teachers at each school would use TPACK after the program, but we focused more on ensuring that each participating teacher would implement TPACK in his/her science lessons.

Guidelines for the design
After deciding upon the context, we established a framework for the total program. We choose to use three models during the design process: the Generic model of Plomp (Verhagen, 2006), the five-stage process of Niess (2008) and the knowledge sharing model of Kessels (1998). I think this was an important step since these models became our guidelines during the rest of the design phase. Then the general structure of the program was decided upon. After the models and the general structure had been decided, the process of designing went faster. 

Meeting in detail
One of the meetings we described in more detail. For me this was quite interesting since I have no teaching experience. It was interesting to see how much time it takes to establish a good design and think about all activities which should be done by the instructor before, during and after the meeting. I think we succeeded in this design since I think it would be possible for a TPACK-expert to carry out the activities needed for this meeting.

The implementation part I have experienced as the most difficult part. The literature we found was more generic, that is why it was hard to focus this literature on our specific context.  
As already stated before, it was difficult to decide upon how the knowledge learned in the meetings could be brought into each individual school and be passed on to the other teachers at these schools.
At a certain moment we tried to adapt our program so that it would be possible that teachers after finishing the program go to their own school and ensure TPACK will be implemented there. But we already had established the general structure with ten meetings and we would like to stick with that. We thought about the idea to let the in the program participating teachers set up teacher design teams at their own school. In this way the teacher who joined the program would get all the work to teach the other teachers how to use TPACK. Because we thought this would be too much to ask from the teachers, we choose not to do this. Instead, in the last meeting the school leaders and other teachers from each school are invited to come so they can get a good idea and if the school leader becomes enthusiastic he/she can decide to start using TPACK at his/her own school. Next to that, in meeting eight, teachers get an explanation and advice about how they can spread the use of TPACK. Also, after the teachers have finished the program, they can share their ideas with other teachers and ask them questions at an online environment (which is also used by the teachers during the program). 

Realistic value of the program
We wanted to adapt the program to the needs of the participating teachers. That is why not all parts of the meetings in the program are already determined. Like for instance, in the first meeting there will be a discussion about what the teachers would like to learn during the program and then goals should be established. Also in a lot of meetings there will be discussions about the experiences of the teachers with using TPACK. We have not filled in how these discussions will look like, since this totally depends on the input of the teachers. I think making a clear program was sometimes difficult since some aspects could not yet be described.
To ensure a program is really coherent is not so easy. The fact that there are a lot of aspects to take into account makes it sometimes difficult since you have to really have in mind all aspects already established. In the end I think that our program is coherent and realistic. Even though not all parts are already determined since they depend upon the input of teachers, I think the program could be used in practice.

The time in which the professional development program should be developed was quite short in my opinion. But I think this can be seen as a challenge and next to that I think it is a good experience since I think that real educational designers also do not have a very long time to design a program and also should stick to tight deadlines.
If we would have had some more time, I think some aspects of the program could have been worked out a little bit better. Next to that it would be a good idea to let the report check by someone outside the design team. In the end I had the experience that when I was reading the report that some things could still be vague and questionable for someone outside our team.

I think we succeeded in designing a realistic program, but that there is still some room left for improvement. Like already stated above, ensuring that teachers will involve teachers of their own school and let them implement TPACK in their lessons as well, is not carried out in this program. We choose as a main goal that participating teachers learn about TPACK and how to use it in their science lessons and not how to get each of the 17 schools to implement it. It would be a challenge to adapt or expand the program so that it also focuses more on the implementation at each school. Next to that, some parts are not totally established yet, since it depends on the input of the teachers.
Designing the program was more difficult than I had expected. I think it was a very nice and interesting experience to establish such a program. 

If you would like to have more information about our designed development program, just let me know!

In my next post I will write more about my experiences with working with TPACK and my ideas about how to stimulate teachers to integrate technology in education.


Akker, J. van den (2011). The Role of Curriculum in the Development of Education; Views from the Netherlands (and beyond). [PowerPoint-presentatie]. Retrieved on the 21st of September 2011 from

Kessels, J.W.M. (1998). Interne en externe consistentie van het opleidingsontwerp. In J.W.M. Kessels, & C.A. Smit, (Eds.), Opleiden in Organisaties. Capita Selecta. Studenteneditie (1989-1997), 90-102. Deventer: Kluwer Bedrijfsinformatie.

Niess, M. L. (2008). Knowledge needed for teaching with technologies – Call it TPACK. AMTE Connections, 17(2), 9-10.

Verhagen, P. (2006). Introductie onderwijskundig ontwerpen in relatie tot het onderwijsprogramma
van Educational Design, Management and Media.