Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TPACK Framework and Spiderweb

Hi Bloggers…

In this posting, I would like to discuss a little bit about TPACK. Do you know what the meaning of TPACK is? What does it look like? How does it work? What is the added value or benefits of TPACK for teachers? Do you think that using TPACK framework can enhance our educational innovation and attainment? And bla..bla..bla…

To answer those questions, let’s start our discussion today about TPACK!
Well, talking about TPACK will relate to elaboration of the elements which combine the word TPACK. As indicated from a wide range of literature, TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge. From this definition, we can assure that TPACK is composed from three core domains of knowledge: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content knowledge. Therefore, to make it easier to understand, firstly I would like to elaborate each component as follows.

Technology (Knowledge) TK
In this context, technology covers both low-tech technologies, such as pencil or paper which can facilitate teaching learning process and high-tech technologies, such as internet, digital media, interactive whiteboards, and so on. In addition, technology can also be analog or digital, traditional or modern one. From this point, we can say that technology knowledge refers to the teacher’s knowledge to use technology in teaching and learning. It enables and facilitates teachers to understand information technology, apply it properly, identify useful technologies, and continually adapt to changes in technology (Kohler & Mishra, 2009). More importantly, technology knowledge does not posit an “end state” but rather sees it developmentally—as evolving over a lifetime of generative, open-ended interactions with technology (Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M., 2009). By mastering technological knowledge, the teachers are expected to be able to create not only authentic, engaging, and collaborative learning tasks, but also can enable students to learn at any time with their peers from outside classrooms as can be seen from TPACK video.

Content (Knowledge)  CK
In this light, content refers to the subject matter that a teacher usually teaches in the class for teaching and learning activities, such as Biology, Language, Mathematics and Chemistry. Therefore, Content Knowledge refers to the teacher’s knowledge about the subject matter that to be learnt or taught. This includes the knowledge of concept, theories, ideas, organizational framework, knowledge of evidence and proof as well as practices and approaches towards developing such knowledge (Shulman, 1986). Teachers must know about the content they are going to teach and how the nature of knowledge is different for various content areas (Schmidt, D.A. et al., 2009). Therefore, when teaching mathematics, the teacher should understand the fundamental issue of content in this subject area. This includes other subjects, such as Science and Art. In other words, Content Knowledge also relates how the teachers can effectively understand the essential content of the subject matter and easily transfer to the students.

Pedagogy (Knowledge)  PK
Pedagogy can be defined as how the teacher uses a teaching method to teach a particular content.  In this case, pedagogical knowledge is the teacher’s deep understanding about the processes and practices or method of teaching and learning which includes knowledge about understanding the nature of the students, strategies for evaluating the students, understanding cognitive, social and development of the theory and how they apply to the students in the class room (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). From this definition, pedagogical knowledge relates to how teachers enable students to construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind toward learning and how the teachers can select and adopt teaching technique including class management effectively in teaching practices.

Figure 1. The Components of TPACK Framework
What is TPACK?    
Well, after we have known the three core domain of knowledge as described above, then we should keep in mind that those three domains can be intersected each other that can also result in the combination of the interaction from those domains. However, when we are talking about TPACK, we cannot separate anymore the three core domains of knowledge one by one; instead, we should bring and combine them together.

For example, the intersection between Technology and Content Knowledge can make combination of “Technological Content knowledge (TCK)”. Also, the combination of Pedagogy and Content Knowledge can create what is called “Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)”, and “Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)” can be resulted from the interaction and combination between Technology and Pedagogical knowledge. If those three combination knowledge (“TPK”, “PCK”, and “TCK”) are intersected together, they will create core framework knowledge in the middle of learning interaction which is called Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK). To make it clearer, see figure 1 for the illustration and picture framework of TPACK.

For me, the definition of TPACK can be as the knowledge framework for teachers on how to use the technology in teaching for a particular content or subject matter by looking at the school context and specific characteristics of the school settings. This requires an understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in the particular ways. This includes knowing the pedagogical affordances and constrains of a range of technological tools as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Finally, it can be concluded that TPACK is knowledge emerged from the interactions among content, technology and pedagogy. TPACK is the basis of effective teaching with technology; requiring the understanding of using technology; pedagogical ways of using technology in constructive ways to teach the content: knowledge of what makes concepts are easy or difficult to learn and how technology can help redress the problem students face (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

What is the added value of TPACK?
Frankly speaking, TPACK is new term for me. I have not known this amazing word come from before. Therefore, I just felt strange hearing that word from dr. Petra Fisher when I followed the lecture of Themes and Approach of CIMA. Between the lectures, dr. Petra Fisher was invited to introduce one of the elective courses in CIMA, namely “Pedagogies Flexible Learning supported by Technology”. And this is the starting point I acquainted with TPACK. From her explanation about her course, I firstly recognized the word TPACK.

Since then, I just wondered and eagerly wanted to know what TPACK is. I was really interested to know more about this. Why is it so? For me, I realized that as a teacher in developing countries, learning with technology is something promising to generate student-centered learning. By technology, as I said earlier, it can ease the students to be more engaged and enjoyable. The students can learn not only in the classroom but also from outside-class settings. In this respect, I personally believe that with TPACK teachers have the flexibility in teaching and learning. The process of teaching itself becomes varied and interesting to the students. Teachers have many options of teaching to teach a certain topic. As a result, the topic that seems hard to be understood by the students becomes easier to explain. Teachers can use the hand of technology to support the subject matter they teach and pedagogical approach they use.

From the lectures and literature about TPACK, I get a fruitful inspiration that integration of technology in the classroom will not yield many beneficial contributions in educational prospects. What I mean here is that technology alone-- without being adjusted by other teachers’ capabilities, skills and knowledge-- tends to be fail and ineffective for teaching and learning experiences. Therefore, I personally agree that TPACK is not just imposing the technology. No!!!! Further, it combines all elements which are interrelated. By following TPACK framework, I learned not only about technology, but also about what is the subject matter and the way of teaching that I must use in order to be appropriate with the learners’ characteristics.

Indeed, with the rapid advances of technology today, there are various options of technology that we have to select best. In my opinion, it is impossible to take all for granted. As a good teacher, we have to be able to select the best and the most appropriate tools or a kind of technology which fits with the content and our pedagogical views and skills. Importantly, we have to think and consider the development of social and psychological growth of our students. I realized that if I do not follow this TPACK course, perhaps I cannot perceive those combination aspects of knowledge and how to adjust them. I think TPACK is really important for beginning teachers to have scaffolding at least in considering and thinking about what kind of preparations that the teacher should have to implement the lesson plan, what kind of technology should add to implement the lesson, what is the learning activity or role grouping which fits with the lesson, what kind of assessment which suitable to assess student performance in this lesson, and so forth!! 

Figure 2. TPACK Spiderweb
From many activities that I have followed during the lectures, I gained enjoyable experiences when I was conducting game and using or selecting some technological tools to support our teaching and content of learning. During the game, I experienced that by integrating technology to teach in subject matter in the way of inquiry learning with games, the students felt more tempted to learn in authentic tasks. They can also build collaborative capacity in solving the problems. The problem here can be solved well if the teacher can manage the class and know the best strategy to teach and the appropriate technology to use. I believe that TPACK can mediate teachers to stimulate and create all those kind of experiences.

To conclude, the most striking point that I got from TPACK is the interrelated part of the elements or knowledge. In this context, we have to be able to adjust all those kind of things. We cannot emphasize or think only one element or knowledge, but we also have to think the other elements. Therefore, teachers should have understanding of the complex interplay between the three basic components of knowledge and their interactions or combination by teaching content using appropriate pedagogical methods and techniques (Schmidt, D.A. et al., 2009). If I can draw my reflection, I will make the interrelated components of TPACK similar with the component of spider web as you can see from figure 2 above. It means that when using TPACK framework, teachers should have inter-consistency among the knowledge of TK, PK,CK, TPK, TCK, and PCK.

Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. 

Schmidt, D.A. et al. (2009). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK): The development and validation of an assessment for pre-service teachers. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 123-149.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SimSchool: The Game and Simulation of Teaching

Hi Bloggers…

Delighted to meet and discuss with you again through this weblog. Now, in this occasion, I would like to discuss and share what I have been experiencing during the class in the exciting course of “Pedagogies Flexible Learning supported by Technology” especially in the topic of “pedagogy” this week. To be honest, during the session I felt very blessed and fortunate because I could test and try out how to use the simSchool application guided directly by Prof. Gerald Knezek as one of the members of the research team in the simSchool project. He was invited as a guest lecturer by our teacher, dr. Petra Fisser. Prof. Knezek kindly informed and patiently told us how to register and make an account to sign in and how to run the simSchool application. Even, he asked and let us log in with his own personal account to explore all the things inside this simulator engine.

However, does everyone know about the simSchool?

The simSchool was conceptualized on the basis of cognitive model paradigm which is called OCEAN or Big Five model of personality (McCrae and Costa, 1996, as cited in Christensen et al.(2011). OCEAN is an acronym for the Big Five personality:

·     Openness to experience—appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, and curiosity
·    Conscientiousness—a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement
·         Extroversion—energy, urgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation and the company of others
·      Agreeableness—a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic toward others
·    Neuroticism—a tendency to easily experience unpleasant emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability.

From the paper contributed by Cheryl Ellerbrock, Ph.D., it is stated that the definition of simSchool based on the website is “a classroom simulation that supports the rapid accumulation of a teacher’s experience in analyzing student differences, adapting instruction to individual learner needs, gathering data about the impacts of instruction, and seeing the results of their teaching.” From this definition, it can be asserted that the application can be used for the teacher to: (a) analyze student differences, (b) adapt instruction to individual learning needs and style, (c) gather the data about the impacts of instruction, and (d) predict the results of their methods of teaching.
Likewise, Zibit and Gibson (2005) contend that the simSchool application is an online simulation of a classroom that can model thousands of different kinds of students and allow a teacher to attempt to meet the different learning needs by assigning tasks in sequences and saying things to the students as they work on the tasks. In this class simulator, the teacher can make a class consisting of 1, 5, or 18 virtual students. The interaction between teacher and the students with the underlying model of teaching and learning can be facilitated through mouse and button clicks. Teachers can read about student personalities, learning preferences and past performance from the assigned student’s profile which the teacher created. Then, the teacher can select his preferred techniques he can choose. To know the results of the effectiveness of his using technique, the teacher can get the summary results whether the way of teaching suits with the students’ personal style and characteristics or not. Therefore, through this simulator, it is expected that the teacher can apply the best method and technique with suitable individual students’ needs and learning styles in order to achieve the best results for the individual academic performances. OK, let’s try to start the class module: Early’s Bad Day.

The simSchool module of Everly’s Bad Day

Everly’s Bad Day is one of the modules created by the teacher in simSchool application by creating virtual class in which there are two students, but only one of which is assigned to the given tasks, named Kassam Everly. In this module, Everly—who has personality profiles as very social and collaborative students, is self-discipline, likes variety and interaction, likes stimulation, and likes challenge—is assigned to do three tasks, namely: “Go over to the last week’s lesson”, “take notes during lecture”, and “take an oral quiz.” Well, from all tasks mentioned earlier, it is assumed that all of them are unmatched with Early’s individual personality. These three tasks are very traditional and old-fashioned style of teaching, but it is believed that there is a few teachers still use it. Because Everly is assigned to do these three tasks, he feels bored and is having nightmare in that day which is then called Everly’s Bad Day.
In this module, as a teacher, I am given an occasion to teach Everly by asking him to do three tasks. First, I created a lesson task for Everly to go over to the last week’s lesson. In the first minutes, Everly did the tasks well, but after minutes 6, Everly feels distracted with the task. From the power indicator, he seemed to have many difficulties in executing the tasks. He just did well in the conscientiousness, but failed to the other aspects. Perhaps, he performed well in the conscientiousness because He has self-discipline personality as reflected from conscientiousness. As a consequence, when doing the first task, his academic performance is lower.
Then, I continued asking him to the second lesson task. I tried to request Everly to “take note during the lecture”. He did what I asked for. During the second task, his openness is getting higher, but his conscientiousness remained steady from the first task. Again, his academic performance is still lower. Next, I asked Everly to do the third task: ”Take the oral quiz.” When performing this task, his extroversion and neuroticism are getting higher in the first five minutes, indicating that he seemed to be able to do the task as expected. However, his academic performance is still decreasing. All in all, I can conclude from the pictures or table that my effectiveness for teaching in the module “Everly’s Bad Day” was very insufficient (0%) or failed. I assert that my three tasks for Everly were not matched with his individual learning needs. As a result, when performing the overall tasks, Everly had many difficulties and distractions.
To my mind, this is my first experience in running a classroom simulation by which I can acquire many inspiring and interesting pedagogical phenomena. After playing this simulation, at least I know how important to meet individual learning needs with our teaching techniques or methods.  From this simulation, I learnt how to communicate and give assertion to the students and can analyze the results of my assertion. For me, teacher talk is also important to characterize who we are. If we often say to the students by using a dominant power, like:  “evaluate the question first”, it tends to be a “teacher-centered classroom”. On the other hand, when we use a question, like: “Can you describe your thinking?” it seems or reflects “student-centered classroom”.
Furthermore, one striking issue that I got during operationalization of simSchool is that technology can be a potential help to match what the learners needs and what ways the teacher should teach. In this example, by using technology we can predict the result or impact of our instruction in teaching. However, as a new experimenter, I feel that the instructions and the procedures how to run this program is very complex. I often found difficult to try out and explores some functionalities or other learning task environments that I want to assign. Also, there are some technical problems that should be fixed accordingly. Sometimes, when I wanted to know the summary result, the figures of the summary result cannot be displayed well. Therefore, if simSchool is equipped with practical tutorial which can be easily found and friendly to the new users, it would be nicer and more interesting to use it. All in all, the most fundamental insight I got from this simulator is that “Technological knowledge can be helpful to enrich (beginning) teachers to have sufficient pedagogical knowledge.”


Monday, October 3, 2011


Twenty years ago when I was in primary school in my country, teaching and learning activities was conducted in very formal traditional settings in which the teacher delivered the materials based on text books and the students just sat behind the desk while listening to the teacher’s explanation. Sitting position had been set up by the school so that the interaction between students-students and students-teacher was very limited. I still remembered that the teacher explained too much about the materials regardless of thinking about whether the students understood the materials or not. The teachers just pointed out how to accomplish and complete the tasks as the teachers. In this case, the students did not have many possibilities to take part in asking and arguing their opinion about the materials, and of course in choosing the materials they wished to learn. In short, at that time, the teaching learning process was performed by conducting traditional forms of transfer information and communication with the emphasis of face-to-face and formal meetings and printed forms of materials.

How about current conditions??
Well, in this digital era, everything can be flexible with the support of technology. Even, actually without technology, we can still be flexible in many ways and opportunities. Giving the chances for the students to choose their preferred content of materials can be seen as flexible as well in the content materials. However, the flexibility nowadays can be implemented well to reach established goals in educational domains by the support of technology. It is undeniable that technology can ease and mediate learners and instructors to choose their preferred modes of instruction, content, and time of delivery learning. In this case, Internet, I think, has significant role in generating and giving more opportunities for teachers and students to set up what is the so-called “flexible learning”.

What is flexible learning?
Flexibility means that something can be bent and changed without breaking. If it is about time, the time should not be 100% fixed and still negotiable to change and adapt. It is like elastic, if we are talking about the product of the materials. So what is flexible learning then? According to Nikolova (1998) Flexibility is considered in terms of adaptation to the individual learner’s needs and preferred learning modes. She added that flexibility, according to Collis, is defined as giving the learner choices with relation to the flexibility dimensions.
Many scholars have different ideas to define flexible learning. According to Sadler-Smith (2004) flexible learning can be seen from means of delivery learning or strategies for accommodating individuals’ styles and preferences. Flexible learning requires learners to exhibit a degree of autonomy and self-direction in order to engage effectively in a learning process in which the learner and other actors may not be physically and/or temporally contiguous (Sadler-Smith & Smith, 2004, p. 398). Van den Brande (1993) as cited in Nikolova (1998) maintains that the goal of flexible learning is enabling learners to learn when they want (frequency, timing, duration),how they want (modes of learning), and what they want (that is learners can define what constitutes learning to them.  Furthermore, Collis (2001) contends that flexible learning is a movement away from a situation in which key decisions about learning dimensions are made in advance by the instructor or institution, toward a situation where the learner has a range of options from which to choose with respect to these key dimensions, such as time, content, entry requirement, instructional approach and resources as well as delivery and logistic.

From Collis’ point of view and the lectures I joined, I get new insight that flexible learning is not only about time and distance, but it also covers many dimensions of teaching and learning activities. Therefore, this blog will discuss five kinds or dimensions of flexible learning and the possibility or example use of technology and web.


According to Collis and Moonen (2001), there are five dimensions of learning flexibility:

A.      Flexibility related to time
From this dimension, we move from fixed time to (less) flexible time. The times could be times for starting the courses, during the courses, and finishing the courses. Also, the times for submitting assignment or tasks from the teachers could be flexible. Assessment time and tempo/pace of studying could be bendable. In this position, the teacher offers some options for students to choose their preferred times.

B.      Flexibility related to content
From this kind of flexibility, the teacher could also give options and opportunities for their students to choose their needs related to topics of the course, sequence of different parts of the course, orientation of the course both from theoretical frameworks and practical activities, key learning materials of the course, and assessment standards and completion requirements.

C.      Flexibility related to entry requirements
From this dimension, we can be flexible in determining the conditions or prerequisites for the participation of the entry requirements.

D.      Flexibility related to instructional approach and resources
From this perspective, the flexibility can be in the social organization of learning, such as face-to-face, group, or individual meetings, what is the language to be used in the instruction and during the course, learning resources of the materials, and instructional organization of learning, such as assignment and monitoring.

E.       Flexibility related to delivery and logistics
The flexibility in this dimension goes through time and place for the course, methods and technology used for delivery and delivery channels for course information, content, and communication.

When we are talking about flexible learning, as I said earlier, technology and internet (Information and Communication Technology) holds a big role in implementing flexible learning based on its kinds of dimensions. To my mind, the spread use of internet or websites can ease the actors the teacher and the learners as well as management institution to reach their established goals of the course in flexible way. I think the implementation of mobile learning is also one kind of flexible learning. To know more about mobile learning, you can visit http://www.m-learning.org/knowledge-centre/whatismlearning. I think through mobile learning, at least we can be flexible in time and location to follow the courses. Furthermore, e-learning with distance learning becomes more flexible by using the application of moodle. Moodle is a kind of application in Learning Management System (LMS) via virtual learning environtment which can be used to create effective online learning sites. Please visit this link http://moodle.org/ to know more about this web application. I think by using moodle we can have flexibility not only about time and place, but also about the content and learning resources. In the university level, I think the use of blackboard as technological advances in learning can mediate the flexible learning. By using Blacboard (http://www.blackboard.com/), the interaction between the teacher and students can occur online regardless time and location. Through Blackboard, the teacher and the students can upload the materials and send email each other from their places electronically. Moreover, the use of video conference can be a flexible way to reduce separated time and location during teaching and learning activities and keep maintain communicative interaction between two parties and one of the tools or application to conduct video conference spread used nowadays is Skype. Please visit http://www.skype.com/ to download and explore more about this application.

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.
Nikolova, I., & Collis, B. (1998). Flexible learning and design of instruction. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 29(1), 59-72.
Sadler-Smith, E., & Smith, P. J. (2004). Strategies for accomodating individuals' styles and preferences in flexible learning programmes. Bristish Journal of Educational Technology, 35(4), 395-412.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


This blog is intended to share our class experiences and ideas either during the class sessions or outside the classroom setting to gain the big picture of the flexible learning and also in the domain of TPACK (Technological and Pedagogical Content Knowledge). We are wondering about some questions emerging from the word "flexible" and "technology". 

Therefore, it is suggested to explore some questions, such as: What is "flexible learning" actually meant? How can we as a teacher or a student be flexible in learning; To what extent do we as a teacher or a student become flexible? Can we take all flexibilities for granted into our learning activities? What kind of technology can we use to support teaching and learning activities? What are the advantages and disadvantages of integrating technology into classroom activities? What are the supportive and hindering factors in integrating technology into school curriculum? 

We expect from this blog that all the questions above can be answered and discussed not only profoundly but also flexibly. Therefore, let's feel free to discuss and share ideas!!!!