The George Washington University- GSEHD
Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) & Educational Technology Leadership (ETL)
Curriculum Theory - TRED 325
Instructor: Dr. Brian Casemore
Spring 2010
"Nada's Island"
Nada's ESL Island

"If we Teach Today as we Taught Yesterday, then we Rob our Children of Tomorrow"
-- John Dewey
Integrating Technology in the Classroom
by Nada Salem Abisamra

Based on the
Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators
Edited by the AACTE.Committee on Innovation and Technology
Click Here! =>.....(Click for rather exhaustive notes about the handbook).....<= Click Here!

* What are the benefits of integrating technology in the classroom?
* What are the factors that might hinder technology integration?
* What is the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) that educators need to have
when integrating technology in the classroom? (The TPCK--now called TPACK-- Model)
* What are the implications for in-service and preservice teachers?
* Conclusion

(Introduction modified for privacy issues)

I am a teacher who is fascinated by educational technology; I put it on a high pedestal; I value it and all the opportunities it creates in the classroom. Why? What is it that makes me do so? I did not grow up with technology; what is it that triggered in me the urge to learn about it and integrate it in my teaching? As I reflect on that, just three words come to my mind: “You won’t understand!” A few years ago, I asked "a friend of mine" a question about the new desktop he had just purchased and, as he was in a hurry, the only answer he could come up with was, “You won’t understand!” I was mad! How could he tell me that?! And this is when my passion for technology exploration started. I taught myself how to type; how to use the word processor; how to use email; how to browse the Internet; and, finally, how to create and design web pages for educational purposes. I spent endless hours in front of that computer screen, and not once did I even feel like giving up.

As I was learning about technology, I started integrating it in my classrooms. I also taught my students how to create their own websites and publish their work. They were fascinated. They loved it! Suddenly, they were no longer working only "for the teacher" or "for a grade," they were working for a real, authentic audience. They started being extremely motivated to learn English as a Second/Foreign Language. Their whole attitude towards the language changed: it became the language of technology; the language of innovations; the language of new opportunities. I was thrilled to see my students thrive in my classes. I have always believed in John Dewey’s famous quote, "If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow." So, it is our duty to teach today in a way that prepares our students for tomorrow. They are already halfway there... they have beaten us when it comes to technology; we should definitely catch up, and even more! It is crucial to acknowledge the importance of the role technology plays nowadays in schools. Integrating it in the classroom gives students the possibility of having a better future. In this paper, we shall study, first, the benefits of integrating technology (focusing on the ESL classroom); second, the factors that might hinder technology integration; third, the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge educators should have; and, last but not least, the implications for in-service and preservice teachers.

What are the benefits of integrating technology in the classroom?

When teachers integrate technology in the classroom, their approaches seem to be more student-centered. Students tend to work together more while using technology to write stories, search the web, and create multimedia presentations. Hypermedia and hypertext increase their understanding-- hypermedia environments are dynamic and interactive and create a non-linear collection of information. Students are more motivated and have a greater sense of control over what they can access and read; their comprehension and ability to create text are improved. In writing/composition, thanks to word-processing programs, students can now focus more on idea generation and organization than on mechanics; write longer samples; have a greater variety of word usage; have more variety of sentence structure; have more accurate mechanics and spelling; make more substantial revisions; and have more positive attitudes toward writing. When teachers integrate technology in the classroom, students' reading skills are also enhanced (thanks to electronic/talking books which use hypermedia text that links to word pronunciations, definitions, sentences). Students develop a sense of story structure, build vocabulary, increase word knowledge, improve comprehension, improve in sight-word acquisition, move more quickly to independent reading levels (thanks to the "point and click" pronunciation support), and improve motivation level. In addition, using the Internet as a resource helps a lot to enhance students’ problem solving and higher order thinking skills as well. Students can search the Internet, evaluate what they find, and then apply it to the solution of a problem. Their critical thinking is also improved as they learn how to create and design websites then publish their work.

What are the factors that might hinder technology integration?

Technology integration is the "pervasive and productive use of educational technologies for purposes of curriculum-based learning and teaching" (p. 252). Some of the factors that might hinder it are the following: first, teachers in general, especially those who grew up in a world where technology did not have a great importance, often tend to think of integrating technology in the classroom as “Somebody Else’s Problem” (p. 9). They tend to consider technology to be a domain that is totally different from pedagogy and find it difficult to navigate between those two worlds “in which the norms, values, and language can be different” (p. 9). Second, teachers most often lack the training they need to incorporate technology in the classroom. Taking one technology workshop or even a class here and there is definitely not enough for them to really learn how to incorporate technology and appreciate its use and value; not enough for them to overcome their functional fixedness which limits them to using technology in the way they are used to or are familiar with. Third, most of the technologies teachers would use nowadays in their classrooms are newer and digital; they are not easy to apply: they are protean, can be used in many different ways; they are unstable, rapidly changing; they are opaque, not easy to see through. Besides, most software tools available today are designed primarily for the business world, and it is not easy for teachers to repurpose those tools for educational purposes. In addition, learning to use those tools is not a once and for all issue because there are always new ones that are being created. Fourth, classroom contexts are so varied. There are different kinds of students, different levels, different disciplines, different lessons and requirements. There are so many different ways teachers can incorporate technology; so many choices to make when it comes to the medium they will use, the time, the place, the context, etc. Besides, the “digital natives”—i.e. the students who grew up surrounded by technology--represent a challenge to the “digital immigrants”—i.e. the teachers, who did not grow up with it--because of “differences in comfort levels and knowledge of technology, and a concomitant clash of culture, language, and values” (p. 10). Fifth, there are multiple digital divides with regards to equity of access to technology. The first one is access to technology infrastructure: hardware, software and the Internet. The second is access to achievement enhancing Technology Mediated Instruction (TMI) in school, and technology mediated activities outside of school. The third is access to culturally compatible (or at least culturally sensitive) TMI teachers knowledgeable about multicultural education, and able to incorporate this knowledge into teaching with technology.

What is the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) that educators need to have when integrating technology in the classroom? (The TPCK--now called TPACK--Model)

TPCK is a framework for teacher knowledge for technology integration. It builds on Shulman's (1986) construct of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) to include technology knowledge. TPCK framework is a complex interaction among three bodies of knowledge: Content, Pedagogy, and Technology. The components of the TPCK model are the following: (1) Content knowledge (CK), which is the "knowledge about the actual subject matter that is to be learned or taught" (p. 13). (2) Pedagogical knowledge (PK), which is the knowledge of teaching methods and strategies; the knowledge of classroom management techniques; and the knowledge of how students learn, construct knowledge, and acquire skills. (3) Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), which is the "knowledge of pedagogy that is applicable to the teaching of specific content" (p. 14). (4) Technology knowledge (TK), which is the knowledge of the different technologies that can be used in specific grade levels and disciplines in the classroom. It is to know when to use those technologies and when to refrain from doing so (by understanding their specific affordances and constraints). It is to be flexible enough in order to be able to adapt to the constantly changing technologies. (5) Technological content knowledge (TCK), which is the knowledge of the different technologies that can be used in the classroom in addition to the knowledge of how technology and content affect each other. (6) Technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK), which is the knowledge of which technologies can be used in a given pedagogical context (with different teaching methods and strategies, with students from diverse backgrounds and learning needs, while taking students’ prior knowledge into consideration). (7) Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK), which involves the proper combination of content, pedagogy, and technology knowledge, including the skill of teaching with technology. It is the knowledge of HOW, WHEN, and WHY to use technology.

What are the implications for in-service and preservice teachers?

Teachers must realize that classroom instruction is the most effective when teaching and technology go hand in hand. In-service teachers need to be trained to “rethink, unlearn and relearn, change, revise, and adapt” (p. 225). They need to flexibly navigate between content, pedagogy, and technology and the interactions among them. They should not ignore the complexity inherent in each knowledge component; this can lead to oversimplified solutions or failure. They need to develop fluency and cognitive flexibility not just in each of the key components but also in the manner in which they interrelate, so that they can effect solutions that are sensitive to specific contexts. They need to have a deep, flexible, pragmatic and nuanced understanding of teaching with technology. Finally, they need to be creative and intelligent in the application of technology for learning so that they can “innovatively repurpose existing tools toward pedagogical ends” (p. 6).

As for preservice teachers, they need to be trained to imitate, assimilate, and innovate. The preservice teacher preparation methods courses need to integrate new 21st century technologies as tools for learning in order not to “rob the children of tomorrow” (p. 223). Preservice teachers should be trained to become more meta-cognitively aware of their TPCK knowledge base and to “engage in changing their mindsets and behaviors established from their own personal learning experiences” (p. 226). They should be trained to understand students by becoming sensitive to multicultural issues that impact learning; they should understand how students think and interact in Technology Mediated Environments (TMEs). They need to be prepared to develop TPCK strategic thinking strategies (the knowledge of when, where, and how to integrate knowledge of content, teaching, student learning, and technology). They need to be trained to plan and design instruction; develop effective instructional strategies for supporting the learning needs of a diversity of students while integrating technology in the lessons; adopt classroom management strategies "that have potential for guiding students toward a successful learning experience" (p. 240); and assess student learning with technology using various technological tools. It is extremely important that technology be modeled for instructional and administrative tasks throughout any teacher preparation program.

In conclusion, it would be unfair to “rob our children of tomorrow.” No teacher should accept to do so. This would drastically go against the teaching mission. As we have seen in this paper, integrating technology in the classroom has a lot of benefits (and we have only named a few). Although there are several factors that might hinder its application, teachers should never give up; at least in order not to be told, one day, “You won’t understand!” The aforementioned hindrances, though, need to be seriously addressed so that they can be at least reduced, if not eliminated; and the implications for teachers can serve as a guide. Teachers should not be afraid to ask for help when they need it, keeping in mind that there is no single technological solution that applies for every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching. However, practice makes the job easier. Passion also helps a lot. If teachers can find a way to become passionate about technology, integrating it in the classroom will be nothing but a source of real pleasure and satisfaction to them and their students. Last but not least, when using technology in the classroom, teachers should never lose sight of their real objective: integrate technology that effectively guides students in learning.

"Teachers will not and cannot be merely told what to do… Teachers practice an art.
Moments of choice of what to do, how to do it, with whom and at what pace,
     arise hundreds of times a school day, and arise differently every day
and with every group of students"
(Joseph Schwab, 1983, p. 245)

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Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators
Part I- What is TPCK (now called TPACK)?
Chapter 1- Introducing TPCK -- Koehler & Mishra
  • Teaching is an ill-structured, complex domain
  • Understanding technology
  • Analog Technologies
  • Digital Technologies
  • Functional Fixedness
  • Technology and its complex role in teaching- Why does introducing technology complicate the processes of teaching?
  • Teaching with technology as a wicked problem
  • Characteristics of wicked problems
  • The TPCK Model:
  • Content knowledge (CK)
  • Pedagogical knowledge (PK)
  • Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)
  • Technology knowledge (TK)
  • Technological content knowledge (TCK)
  • Technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK)
  • Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK)
  • Teacher knowledge in practice, or teachers as curriculum designers
  • Bricolage
  • Implications for teacher education and teacher professional development
  • Chapter 2- Bridging digital and cultural divides: TPCK for equity of access to technology-- Mario Antonio Kelly
    Part II- Integrating TPCK into Specific Subject Areas: (K-6 Literacy, English, World Languages)
    Chapter 3- TPCK in K-6 Literacy Education: It’s Not That Elementary!-- Denise A. Schmidt and Marina Gurbo
    Part III- Integrating TPCK into Teacher Education and Professional Development
    Chapter 11- Guiding preservice teachers in developing TPCK-- Margaret L. Niess Chapter 12- TPCK in in-service education: assisting experienced teachers' "planned improvisations"-- Judith B. Harris

    Chapter 13- Advancing TPCK through collaborations across educational associations-- Glen Bull, Lynn Bell, and Tom Hammond

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    Page Created on Apr. 10, 2010  ||  Last updated on May 9, 2010
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