maandag 28 november 2011

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.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Hi Martine, thank you for your reflection and for participating in my course! And thank you for again reminding us that it is important to involve all teachers in a school, not just the "lucky few" that do the TPACK professional development program. I think you mention a very important thing here!

  2. Hi Petra,
    Also thank you for the lectures! I really liked the way you build up this course with the different assignments. And I think I learned a lot.