Unit 1: Principles and Practices of Computers in Teaching and Learning
Technology cannot be integrated into classroom programmess overnight. Imagine yourself teaching a lesson to a classroom of students. Exactly what would you do to convey the necessary information? Would you use technology? If so, what technologies and why? If not, why not? If you are like many college students, computers, cell phones, and other digital tools are interfaces to your life. You communicate there. You think there. You create there. You take care of the day-to-day events of your life there. You are entertained, informed, stimulated, and soothed. Technology provides a window into your world. But have you thought about how you will integrate technology into your teaching practice?
Technologies in Teaching and Learning
Technologies have been part of teaching and learning for centuries. As the types of technologies have changed over the years, so, too, has their importance to the teaching and learning process. For example, consider two functions of technology, communication and information storage, and how they have evolved from pre-mechanical to mechanical to electronic and then to digital forms.
By improving existing technologies and developing new technologies, information and communication technologies have become more accessible to the general public while offering increased speed and greater quality at the same time. Can you imagine your life without cell phones, the Internet, and other digital tools that help you communicate with your friends and family today? If you were a teacher when very simple communication and information storage tools were available—in a time we refer to as the pre-mechanical era—you would have had to depend on real objects and face-to-face communication with your students to describe the past, explain the present, and encourage thinking about the future. The accessibility of pre-mechanical forms of information and communication technologies (such as quill, ink, and paper) and their products (such as legal proclamations and religious documents) were quite limited—often reserved for wealthy members of society. Neither the technologies nor their products were used extensively in educational settings. As technologies moved into the mechanical phase through the creation and use of the printing press, it became possible to produce greater quantities of the products in a form that would have allowed teachers to retrieve and use information over an extended period of time. Storing and communicating information became much easier —for teachers, students, and the general public. Reliance on face-to-face communication lessened as books were printed and became more plentiful and accessible to wider audiences. Books were the new information technologies! As information technologies entered the electronic age, accessibility increased even further. The widespread use of the phonograph, radio, and television increased opportunities for communication. You may not believe it, but when these technologies were first introduced, they all were predicted to be valuable teaching tools. The development of audio and video recorders meant that information captured by these tools could be preserved on tape and then made available to the public and, of course, to educators. As technologies entered the digital phase, additional communication tools were developed. Word processors, digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, and a continuing array of information and communication tools have been, and will continue to be, developed.
Also, because of the ease with which digital information can be duplicated and transferred to other locations, high-powered storage and retrieval systems and software have become common in places you might not consider—like your car, television, and refrigerator. These technologies have powerful implications for education. For example, you might already access your textbooks through online databases or websites, or listen to entire books as audio files on your MP3 player. The impact of technological improvements and innovations on education obviously goes well beyond the areas of information and communications technologies, now commonly referred to as ICT.
Teaching Principles and Practices
Teaching and learning are highly complex, dependent on numerous contextual factors – including the nature of the teacher, students, the subject matter and the environment(s) for teaching and learning. Nevertheless, there are some principles that seem to apply to many contexts. Accordingly, countries have set various standards for good teaching. Among these, it is extremely important that teachers consider various principles and theories about learning. Among these, constructivist ideas about learning have been very influential. Related to such learning principles, educators need to consider which teaching approaches are best for various situations. Many of the approaches to be described here can be applied to teaching and learning in any subject area but our focus will be on teaching ICT and with ICT. Nevertheless, teachers must also be aware of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) – that is, knowledge about general teaching approaches and how they should be used for different subjects. Therefore, although the general approaches below can be used for many subject areas, ICT teachers should also consider approaches that have been tailored for particular subjects such as for science and technology education. Finally, it must be stressed that teaching and learning are dynamic. Educators need to continually review and evaluate teaching and learning and make efforts to improve them.
TPACK Model of Integration
The TPACK model is an acronym for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. The Technology Integration model was proposed by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler in 2006 via their text Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Their findings build on the Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) framework first proposed by Lee Shulman’s 1986 work, Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching. Shulman’s initial conception of the PCK model focused on the pedagogical context and the content context. The PCK model focuses on how the way educators teach and what they teach need to be equally represented in order to present an optimal learning experience. The PCK model is depicted in Figure 1.
Mishra and Koehler (2006) expanded upon this foundational text by adding the technological impact associated with a more modern learning environment and pedagogical approach (Ling, Chai, & Tay, 2014). The TPACK model highlights areas of overlap between the three core components of technological implementation and integration into a learning environment. The idealized state is where all three of these contexts meet in the combined TPACK competency where technology is successfully incorporated into a learning environment as it meets both the pedagogical and content-based knowledge in a meaningful and useful way for both learners and teachers. Figure 2 illustrates this overlap and the ideal state for technological integration.
Figure 2. The TPACK Model. Adapted from Mishra & Koehler (2006)
The TPACK model is expressed through an overlapping Venn diagram where the various knowledges cumulate in the optimal experience where pedogeological, content, and technological knowledges are balanced in the TPACK structure. Each knowledge component has a very important role in the successful integration of technology within the classroom.
The Technological Knowledge (TK) is an interesting part of this model because it is hard to define due to the constant change of new and emerging technologies. Due to the changing dynamics of the technology accessible to learners and teachers, it is important that educators have a broad understanding of the available technologies and emerging technologies and how they can be productively integrated within their curriculum (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).
Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) refers to the way in which the educator presents content to their students in an effective way and addressing challenges or misconceptions from the learner. Mishra and Koehler describe the pedagogical context as, “knowing what teaching approaches fit the content, and likewise, knowing how elements of the content can be arranged for better teaching” (2006, p.1027).
Content Knowledge (CK) is exactly what the term suggests which is the actual knowledge about a specific field or subject matter (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Educators are expected to be experts in the field of study they teach and the scope of complexity of which it is presented to the learner. Educators must have the fundamental backgrounds and understandings for their specific field of study otherwise there could me a misrepresentation or communication of the facts thereby confusing or misleading their students (Ball & McDiarmid, 1990).
The Ideal Overlap
It is important to remember that although each context knowledge is an important part of the TPACK model, it is stressed that each part is reliant on the other. One context or competency cannot function efficiently on its own. For example, although it is important for an educator to be extremely knowledgeable about the topic they are teaching without a pedagogical understanding of how to present or teach the material in a meaningful way defeats the purpose of cultivating content-based expertise. The overlap between pedagogical, technological, and content based knowledges represents an ideal balance within the classroom.
Applications: TPACK in the Classroom
Implementing meaningful technology within any classroom can be a daunting task. Thorough evaluation of a tech-based tool that seamlessly integrates into a predetermined curriculum must be justifiable and provide an elevated learning experience without feeling cumbersome or irrelevant.
TPACK and 21st Century Skills
John Dewey famously said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” This sentiment resonates deeply within today’s educational climate. Educators must teach in a forward-thinking way. Implementing 21st Century Skills into the classroom has become an increasingly important aspect of curriculum planning and implementation. Integrating technology and technological literacy has become an ever-evolving scope within the modern curriculum and learning environment. These skills are more than just introducing students to particular technologies and the ability to use them, but rather highlight the importance of transferring these skills to relevant real-world applications.
- Selecting Technology
- Potential Barriers
- Suggested Solutions
TPACK Toolkit: Successfully Unpacking TPACK
Considering the possible barriers and limitations associated with implementing new technologies within the classroom, it is important to mitigate these possible challenges in the planning stages when incorporating a meaningful technology. It is crucial to ensure that the tool being utilized does not detract from learning objectives due to burdensome features. These features include excessive time needed for the educator and students to learn a new technology or platform, excessive fees associated with the tool, or issues with compatibility. To decrease the likelihood of running into these challenges, it is important to select a tool that is user-friendly and easily adapted to classroom materials.
An example of an accessible tool to all classrooms is TEDED. This tool successfully balances the various contexts of the TPACK model. The platform integrates and balances the technological, content, and pedagogical contexts to ensure a meaningful learning process. TEDED provides specified content on a specific area of interest. This content is carefully curated into a concise lesson plan. The content is organized in digestible sections and follows the elaboration theory to ensure that student interaction with the material fulfills pedagogical principles. Educators can easily customize and manipulate the lesson plan to ensure the content fits classroom material relevant to students. The overall process strikes the unique balance suggested by the TPACK model in order to ensure seamless and meaningful integration of technology within a learning environment.
Conclusions and Future Recommendations
The TPACK model suggests the perfect combination of pedagogical, content, and technological competencies in order for educators to provide the most rounded educational experience. The model in a lot of ways assumes that providing this level of educational experience can be obtained, however, there are various barriers and obstacles that inhibit the proper integration of technology within the classroom.
As it stands, teachers are constantly being stretched thin to meet curriculum standards, participate in extracurricular activities, overcome institutional barriers, and manage large classes to name a few of their daily burdens (Ertmer, 1999). To suggest that teachers need to update their technological skills in a culture where new technologies are being developed and released is a big ask. For this reason, some teachers will continue to have a negative perspective on the need or requirement to integrate new technologies into the classroom. Aside from this demand, teachers who are innovative and embrace the use of technology are faced with institutional constraints including budgetary limitations and a lack of accessibility to technology. This disconnect creates frustration as their efforts to embrace 21st Century Skill building is railroaded.
It is important to recognize that the TPACK model represents an ideal scenario. In order to meet this ideal or come close to achieving this within a classroom, the standards for integration have to be attainable. Incorporating technologies that are inexpensive or free to the user, as well as ones that are intuitive and easy to learn, are the cornerstone of successful integration of tech-tools within the classroom. It is important for educators to vet and evaluate technology-based tools before implementing them into their classroom to ensure that learning is optimized through the use of technology rather than simply acting as a hollow expectation.
Specific Teaching and Learning Approaches
The strategies outlined below can be used for many teaching and learning situations, with appropriate variations for subject matter (e.g., PCK), for student grade level, for various language-cultural contexts, etc. Strategies included here are:
- Socratic Instruction,
- Concept Attainment,
- Concept Formation,
- Cooperative Group Learning.
Why Is Cooperative Learning Important?
The authors of Classroom Instruction that Works cite research showing that organizing students in cooperative learning groups can lead to a gain as high as 28 percentiles in measured student achievement (Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock 2001).
Other researchers report that cooperation typically results in higher group and individual achievement, healthier relationships with peers, more metacognition, and greater psychological health and self-esteem (Johnson and Johnson 1989).
When implemented well, cooperative learning encourages achievement, student discussion, active learning, student confidence, and motivation. The skills students develop while collaborating with others are different from the skills students develop while working independently. As more businesses organize employees into teams and task forces, the skills necessary to be a “team player” (e.g., verbalizing and justifying ideas, handling conflicts, collaborating, building consensus, and disagreeing politely) are becoming more valuable and useful. Using cooperative groups to accomplish academic tasks not only provides opportunities for students to develop interpersonal skills but also gives them authentic experiences that will help them be successful in their future careers. When students work with computers in groups, they cluster and interact with each other for advice and mutual help. And given the option to work individually or in a group, the students generally wish to work together in computer-based and non-computer-based activities. Reflecting on this phenomenon, the computer fosters this positive social behaviour due to the fact that it has a display monitor just like a television on set that is looked upon as something communal. Therefore, researchers agree that the computer is fairly natural learning vehicle for cooperative (at times called promotive) learning.
The importance of images and video use in Teaching and Learning
Given below are some of the reasons why images and videos should accompany all the practices highlighted above should a teacher decide to use them:
i. The majority of people are visual learners.
ii. Pictures stick
iii. Metaphors can provide a language for people
iv. Pictures can accelerate understanding
Effective educational videos for teaching and learning
Video has become an important part of education. It is integrated as part of traditional courses, serves as a cornerstone of many blended courses especially during the Covid-19 lock down, and is often the main information delivery mechanism in MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses). Several meta-analyses have shown that technology can enhance learning and multiple studies have shown that video, specifically, can be a highly effective educational tool for instruction. In order for video to serve as a productive part of a learning experience, however, it is important for the instructor to consider three elements for video design and implementation:
- cognitive load
- non-cognitive elements that impact engagement
- features that promote active learning
One of the primary considerations when constructing educational materials for teaching, including video, is cognitive load. Cognitive Load Theory, initially articulated by Sweller and colleagues (1988, 1989, 1994), suggests that memory has several components (see the figure below). Sensory memory is brief, collecting information from the environment.
Information from sensory memory may be selected for temporary storage and processing in working memory which has very low capacity. This processing is a prerequisite for encoding into long-term memory, which has virtually unlimited capacity. Because working memory is very limited, the learner must be selective about what information from sensory memory to pay attention to during the learning process, an observation that has important implications for creating and using educational materials.
Based on this model of memory, Cognitive Load Theory suggests that any learning experience has three components. The first of these is intrinsic load, which is inherent to the subject under study and is determined in part by the degrees of connectivity within the subject. The common example given to illustrate a subject with low intrinsic load is a word pair (e.g., blue), whereas grammar is a subject with a high intrinsic load due to its many levels of connectivity and conditional relationships. The second component of any learning experience is germane load, which is the level of cognitive activity necessary to reach the desired learning outcome – for example to make the comparisons, do the analysis, clarify the steps necessary to master the lesson. The ultimate goal of these activities is for the learner to incorporate the subject under study into a schema of richly connected ideas. The third component of a learning experience is extraneous load, which is cognitive effort that does not help the learner toward the desired learning outcome. It is often characterized as load that arises from a poorly designed lesson (e.g., confusing instructions, extra information). These definitions have implications for design of educational materials and experiences. Specifically, instructors should seek to minimize extraneous cognitive load and should consider the intrinsic cognitive load of the subject when constructing learning experiences, carefully structuring them when the material has high intrinsic load. Because working memory has a limited capacity, and information must be processed by working memory to be encoded in long term memory, it is important to prompt working memory to accept, process, and send to long-term memory only, the most crucial information.
Recommendations for using videos in teaching and learning
Several recommendations about educational videos have been made. Based on the premise that effective learning experiences minimize extraneous cognitive load, optimize germane cognitive load, and manage intrinsic cognitive lead, four effective practices emerge:
- Matching modality
One of the most important aspects of creating educational videos is to include elements that help promote student engagement. If students do not watch the videos, they cannot learn from them. Lessons on promoting student engagement derive from earlier research on multimedia instruction as well as more recent work on videos used within MOOCs.
- Keep it short.
- Use a conversational style
- Speak relatively quickly and with enthusiasm
- Make sure the material feels like it is for these students in this class
- Match modality
What research has to say on students’ active learning using video
To help students get the most out of an educational video, it is important to provide tools to help them process the information and to monitor their own understanding. There are multiple ways to do this effectively.
- Use guiding questions
- Use interactive features that give students control
- Integrate questions into the video
- Make video part of a larger homework assignment
Videos can be an effective tool in your teaching tool kit. When incorporating videos into a lesson, it’s important to keep in mind the three key components of cognitive load, elements that impact engagement, and elements that promote active learning. Luckily, consideration of these elements converges on a few recommendations:
- Keep videos brief and targeted on learning goals.
- Use audio and visual elements to convey appropriate parts of an explanation; make them complementary rather than redundant.
- Use signalling to highlight important ideas or concepts.
- Use a conversational, enthusiastic style to enhance engagement.
- Embed videos in a context of active learning by using guiding questions, interactive elements, or associated homework assignments.
What are the main purposes of learning in the technologies?
Learning in the technologies enables children and young people to be informed, skilled, thoughtful, adaptable and enterprising citizens, and to:
- develop understanding of the role and impact of technologies in changing and influencing societies
- contribute to building a better world by taking responsible ethical actions to improve their lives, the lives of others and the environment
- gain the skills and confidence to embrace and use technologies now and in the future, at home, at work and in the wider community
- become informed consumers and producers who have an appreciation of the merits and impacts of products and services
- be capable of making reasoned choices relating to the environment, to sustainable development and to ethical, economic and cultural issues
- broaden their understanding of the role that information and communications technology (ICT) has in Scotland and in the global community
- broaden their understanding of the applications and concepts behind technological thinking, including the nature of engineering and the links between the technologies and the sciences
- experience work-related learning, establish firm foundations for lifelong learning and, for some, for specialised study and a diverse range of careers. Technologies: principles and practice
How are the technologies experiences and outcomes organised?
The technologies framework has been organised to offer opportunities for personalisation and choice using diverse contexts for learning. The technologies framework has six organisers, namely:
- technological developments in society
- ICT to enhance learning
- computing science
- food and textiles
- craft, design, engineering and graphics.
The final four organisers are contexts for developing technological skills and knowledge. These organisers recognise the special contribution made by each context for learning, whilst enabling teachers to plan opportunities to reflect individual and local needs. The important purposes of the technologies depend upon effective interdisciplinary working through connections across and between subject boundaries. It is important that teachers do not feel constrained by the organisers but view them as opportunities for children and young people to experience the differing contexts for learning. In secondary schools, teachers of business education, computing, home economics and technical education will recognise how they can make their specialist contributions within the framework. Schools and teachers will plan different combinations of the experiences and outcomes to provide programmes that meet young people’s needs and provide a sound basis for more advanced study within an area of specialism. As in other curriculum areas, the fourth level experiences and outcomes provide possibilities for choice: it is not intended that any individual young person’s programme of learning would include all of the fourth level outcomes. Teachers in their planning will use the framework to ensure that children and young people develop their understanding of important themes such as the impact of technology, informed attitudes to technology, sustainability, and social, economic and ethical issues. These will underpin and continually reinforce learning within the technologies. The framework contains some statements which span two levels. These provide space for teachers to plan for progression over an extended period of time, enabling children and young people to explore contexts in increasing depth and develop their creativity through independent learning. The framework allows opportunity for personalisation and choice, depth and relevance. The level of achievement at the fourth level has been designed to approximate to that associated with SCQF level 4. The technologies framework offers children and young people opportunities to develop a set of skills that can be utilised in Skills for Work programmes.
What skills are developed in the technologies?
The technologies provide frequent opportunities for active learning in creative and work-related contexts. Learning in the technologies thus provides opportunities to continually develop, use and extend skills that are essential components for life, work and learning, now and in the future, including planning and organisational skills. Learning in the technologies therefore makes a strong contribution to achieving the aim clearly articulated in Skills for Scotland: a Lifelong Learning Strategy of ‘…ensuring that Curriculum for Excellence provides vocational learning and the employability skills needed for the world of work and is the foundation for skills development throughout life’. Well-designed practical activities in the technologies offer children and young people opportunities to develop:
- curiosity and problem-solving skills, a capacity to work with others and take initiative
- planning and organisational skills in a range of contexts
- creativity and innovation, for example though ICT and computer aided design and manufacturing approaches
- skills in using tools, equipment, software and materials
- skills in collaborating, leading and interacting with others Technologies: principles and practice 2
- critical thinking through exploration and discovery within a range of learning contexts
- discussion and debate
- searching and retrieving information to inform thinking within diverse learning contexts
- making connections between specialist skills developed within learning and skills for work
- evaluating products, systems and services
- presentation skills.
What learning and teaching approaches are useful in the technologies?
The experiences and outcomes are intended to tap into children’s and young people’s natural inventiveness and their desire to create and work in practical ways. They act as a motivation for progressively developing skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes, and so maximise achievement. Effective learning and teaching will draw upon a wide variety of approaches to enrich the experience of children and young people, particularly through collaborative and independent learning. The experiences and outcomes are well suited for learning beyond school: in colleges, in the voluntary sector and in partnership with businesses, where children and young people may experience learning activities that are relevant to employment or future vocational learning. Proficiency in ICT is an ideal vehicle for shared learning between and amongst children, young people and teachers. Many teachers may need to build their own knowledge and confidence, often learning with and from children and young people, in this area of continually evolving developments.
What does ICT mean within this framework?
ICT refers to forms of technology that are used to transmit, store, create, display, share or exchange information by electronic means. This broad definition of ICT currently includes such technologies as media, telecommunications, and computer hardware and software; it also includes equipment and services associated with these technologies, such as videoconferencing, email and blogs.
How can ICT enhance learning and teaching?
In the words of the HMIE publication Improving Scottish Education: ICT in Learning and Teaching (2007), ‘… staff in pre-school centres and in primary schools recognised that learners developed awareness of the world in which they live more effectively when this included engagement with the world through ICT.’ Being skilled in using ICT is essential if children and young people are to be effective contributors able to communicate and interact on a global scale. Across the curriculum, skills in ICT will be developed in the context of the learning and teaching as appropriate to the child or young person’s maturity. All teachers, in all sectors, in all departments and in all settings, have opportunities to apply, reinforce and extend ICT skills within and across curriculum areas to equip children and young people with the learning and employability skills required for the 21st century. Several curriculum areas including the technologies provide opportunities for children and young people to consider security aspects associated with ICT, for example keeping personal data secure, and the important consequences of these for individuals. It is important for children and young people to recognise security risks when handling information across the curriculum, and act accordingly.
What is the difference between computing and ICT?
ICT, as defined here, brings together different forms of technologies and applies them to communication and learning, whereas computing, as an area of specialised study, provides deeper theoretical and practical understanding of how hardware and software can be developed and applied in a range of contexts. This area of specialist study has particular relevance in preparing children and young people for the challenges of rapidly changing digital technologies. It will enable learners to prepare for more advanced specialised study and careers within computing science. Technologies: principles and practice 3
What are broad features of assessment in technologies?
Assessment in the technologies will focus on practical, problem-solving and collaborative activities which enable children and young people to show that they know, understand and can use technological skills and concepts across all the contexts for learning in the technologies. Teachers can gather evidence as part of children and young people’s day-to-day learning, and specific assessment tasks will also contribute to assessing progress. From the early years through to the senior stages, children and young people can demonstrate progress in their skills in making models and preparing food, in planning and carrying out practical investigations and solving problems, in discussing and debating ideas with peers and adults, and in recording and presenting their thinking in different ways, including using ICT. Approaches to assessment should identify the extent to which children and young people can apply these skills and use them creatively in their learning and their daily lives and in preparing for the world of work. For example:
- How well do they contribute ideas and suggestions and develop team working skills?
- How well do they collaborate and independently participate in learning activities which lead to products with real uses?
Children and young people can show progress by responding enthusiastically to more demanding and challenging concepts in technologies, showing increasing depth of understanding in their explanations, and applying knowledge and skills in more demanding or unfamiliar contexts. They can also demonstrate progress through their increasing independence and confidence when carrying out tasks and their increasing resilience in facing challenges. Progress includes increasingly well-structured explanations and well-argued opinions and conclusions, including developing informed views on environmental, ethical and economic issues. Assessment should also link with other areas of the curriculum, both within and outside the classroom, and in the context of the world of work.
How can I make connections within and beyond the Technologies?
Technologies are connected strongly with all other areas of the curriculum, through extending and applying the specialist knowledge and understanding developed in the sciences, through the creative use of technology in the expressive arts, through interdisciplinary learning, for example linking mathematics, science and technologies in an engineering context, and through the use of technologies to enhance learning. In order to foster deeper, more enjoyable and active learning, the technologies experiences and outcomes enable clear links to be made with all other curriculum areas. For example, design, creative thinking and aesthetics are central to both the technologies and the expressive arts and can provide a platform for planning exciting interdisciplinary working as well as presenting rich contexts for reinforcing the four capacities. Such connections mutually enhance the application and interpretation of designing, offering learners opportunities to become independent in designing solutions to meet real-life needs and challenges, and adept at solving problems of increasing scale and complexity. They extend the creative process, building on the interests of children and young people to provide enjoyable learning opportunities and enhance self-esteem, for example the relationship and interaction of engineering with technologies and with science. In a wider context, the experiences and outcomes have the capacity to link with fundamental concepts, including those of engineering, mathematics and science. Through planning and self-evaluation, establishments and departments will need to ensure an appropriate balance of learning and teaching approaches, progression in skills, and effective use of interdisciplinary work to deepen and extend learning and reinforce themes. In planning, it is important to recognize that experiences and outcomes should not be considered as requiring particular amounts of time. Many are very open, allowing the opportunity for exploration and depth.