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Theoretical Implications for Designing Professional Development for Technology Integration

Angela V. Christopher University of Memphis


Theoretical Implications for Designing Professional Development for Technology Integration

Abstract This paper presents support for situated professional development for teachers that focuses on backwards design principles for technology integration in K-12 settings. The framework for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or TPACK, as outlined by Mishra and Koehler (2006) serves as a foundation for investigating the types of learning experiences likely to have a lasting impact on pedagogy. Additionally, the literature gives credence to professional development models that emphasize participation in learning communities to sustain positive changes in pedagogy and technology integration.

Introduction Efforts to integrate technology in K-12 learning environments are motivated by the desire to improve student performance and to prepare learners for a technology driven workforce. Worthwhile technology integration is expected to engage students in higher-ordered, creative and collaborative learning activities that are aligned with curricular content standards and the National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS). The purpose of this paper is to investigate the knowledge base surrounding teacher learning and the theoretical implications for designing professional development and support systems for high quality technology integration. The literature reveals that technology integration falls below par for teaching and learning. Technology is most often used in classrooms for low-level learning and teacher centered tasks (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007; Lowther, Ian, Strahl, & Ross, 2008). Simply providing computers and other technologies for school use does not equate to improved student

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 3 learning. In other words – access to technology does not in itself create high quality learning opportunities, (Angeli & Valanides, 2009; Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007; Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Mishra and Koehler (2006, 2008) propose a theoretical framework they coined Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or TPACK, to frame the knowledge required by teachers to effectively implement technology in their practices. They advocate an approach to teacher learning that they call Learning Technology by Design (LTD). LTD is closely aligned with social and situated learning theories as well as the backwards design model for instruction. Both social and situated learning theories suggest that learning does not happen in isolation, but rather through observation and engagement with new content in authentic contexts (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Richey, Klein, & Tracey, 2011; Wenger, 1998). A backwards design approach encourages teachers to focus on learning goals and evidence before determining the if, what, and how of technology integration (Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Wiggins & McTighe, Understanding by Design, 2005). Furthermore, participation in learning communities can motivate and support teachers as they implement changes to their practice and work toward sustaining and evolving technology integration (Glazer, Hannafin, & Song, 2005; Hughes & Ooms, 2004). There is a large body of research identifying barriers to successful technology integration. Key deterrents include: access to technology and related materials, teacher beliefs, teacher knowledge and skills, support, time constraints and school culture, (Brinkerhoff, 2006; Earle, 2002; Ertmer, 2005; Kopcha, 2010; Lowther et al., 2008). There is also scholarly interest in understanding the nuances of these barriers and identifying ways to mediate them. Since access to technology and daily time constraints are extrinsic barriers that do not fall within the realm of

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 4 professional development, they are not heavily addressed in this paper. The following discussion outlines a rational for authentic and situated learning experiences to support teachers as they develop the knowledge and skills necessary to incorporate the technology that is available to them.

Discussion Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge According to Earle (2002), the ways in which teachers define technology and integration can impact the effectiveness of technology implementation in their classrooms. When students learn with technology in student-centered ways, they are guided by teachers to be responsible for their own learning. In essence, they investigate, problem solve and reconstruct information to build new knowledge (Angeli & Valanides, 2009; Earle, 2002; Turvey, 2006). Since improvements in education come from clear instruction and assessments that are aligned with high quality learning goals (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007), it stands to reason that each time a new technology is introduced teachers must evaluate and reshape their understanding of pedagogy, content and technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Mishra and Koehler (2006, 2007, & 2008) address the question of what teachers need to understand in order to effectively facilitate learning with technology. TPACK is a conceptual framework that illustrates the complex characteristics of teacher knowledge and technology integration. The framework extends Shulmanâ€&#x;s concept of Pedagogical Content Knowledge by identifying Technology Knowledge as a key component to teaching and learning. Mishra and Koehler propose that the three knowledge bases do not exist separately but are interdependent in nature. It is the relationship of the three types of teacher knowledge that promotes the

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 5 integration of meaningful and engaging technology integration. The TPACK framework serves as a guide for this discussion. Teacher Learning and Professional Development It has long been assumed that professional development provides teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful technology integration. There are two types of professional development, one is for learning technological skills and the other is for learning to integrate technology for student learning (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007). Traditional professional development underscores instruction in technical skills with little attention to pedagogy and content (Earle, 2002; Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Teachers who effectively integrate technology are typically interested in „why‟ a particular technology will be useful instead of the technical skills required to use it (Driscoll K. , 2007). In other words, these teachers are concerned with how technology can be utilized for learning particular content and concepts. Teachers‟ TPACK is addressed when the goals of professional development shift from a focus on technical skills to support teachers‟ pedagogical development in teaching and learning content with technology. Koehler and Mishra (2008), suggest that the development of TPACK is akin to learning a new kind of literacy. When technology skills are only part of the building blocks to integration, professional development designers must also consider how teachers learn and what types of experiences are likely to initiate a change in practice. Research from the last decade supports professional development that is longer in duration, includes follow-up, incorporates meaningful activities related to curriculum and contexts, promotes collegial support, and provides a clear and common goal for student achievement (Darling-Hammond & Richardson, 2009; Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007). Brinkerhoff (2006) reported the effects of professional development on technology integration when the

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 6 barriers of time, technical skill, and support were addressed. Participants reported increased technology skills and computer self-efficacy yet there was no significant change in their teaching practice. Lawless and Pellegrino (2007) identified a gap in the knowledge base regarding what teachers learn from professional development and changes in pedagogy. Focused efforts to provide ongoing technical and instructional support within the specific context of the teaching environment does yield some degree of improved student achievement, more positive attitudes toward technology integration, increased confidence in technology skills, as well as higher levels of engagement with technology and student-centered learning (Lowther et al, 2008). Changing Pedagogy through Social and Situated Learning Teacher beliefs about technology integration are likely to affect implementation (Brinkerhoff, 2006; Ertmer, 2005; Lowther et al, 2008; Niess, 2005). Ertmer (2005) examined the relationship between teachersâ€&#x; pedagogical beliefs and their technology practices. She found it likely that pedagogical beliefs are uniquely personal and will sway how new information about teaching is understood and implemented. She suggests clear articulation and public conversation about pedagogical beliefs and reflections on those beliefs as important components to changes in practice. Ertmer also advises that teachers who feel pressured to change their pedagogical beliefs may resist technology integration. Teachers are more likely to use technology that supports their current pedagogical beliefs before they will be willing to modify their core beliefs about pedagogy. Changes in practice happen over extended periods of time and in small increments (Brinkerhoff, 2006; Ertmer, 2005). Since beliefs are grounded in personal, vicarious and cultural experiences (Ertmer, 2005), it is reasonable to propose that professional development should be designed to provide personal, vicarious and cultural opportunities to engage in experiences which support the development of

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 7 TPACK. Koehler, Mishra and Yahya (2007) recognize the need to develop teachersâ€&#x; beliefs about educational technology and suggest helping teachers to understand that technology, pedagogy and content are interrelated. Their approach, Learning Technology by Design, is closely related to problem-based learning, collaborative learning, and learning-by-doing. This type of instruction is situated and provides for learning to evolve over extended periods of time while solving authentic problems. Teachers can learn technological pedagogical knowledge by using and designing educational technology to teach specific content (Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya, 2007). Social and situated learning theorists recognize that learning transpires in communitybased contexts (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Driscoll M. P., 2005; Herrington & Oliver, 1995; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Richey, Klein, & Tracey, 2011). Social learning theory assumes that people learn by observing the behavior of others. Ertmer (2005) notes that the literature provides evidence to suggest a supervising inservice teacher has greater influence over a preservice teacherâ€&#x;s technology integration than college courses or university instructors. Observations provide teachers with information about how new behaviors are implemented and encourage confidence and the realization that change is possible. By watching others, a person can come to understand how new behaviors are performed. Social learning theorists believe that cognitive, behavioral, and environmental factors work together to continually influence human behavior. Furthermore, learners with confidence in their abilities to perform certain behaviors are more likely to persist in their endeavors to learn new content and skills (Richey, Klein, & Tracey, 2011). Proponents of situated learning theory claim that knowledge will go unused if taught in separate contexts and without practice in real world situations (Driscoll M. P., 2005). Brown et

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 8 al (1989) writes that knowledge is situated and learning cannot be separated from the context in which it is learned. There is additional evidence in the literature to support situated learning opportunities that foster adoption of technology integration (Brinkerhoff, 2006; DarlingHammond & Richardson, 2009; Koehler et al, 2007; Niess, 2005; Wenger, 1998). Wiggins and McTighe (2005) describe a backwards design process for creating effective student-centered instruction. Using this model, teachers first identify the content standards and types of evidences required to demonstrate student understanding. Following identification of learning goals and evidence for understanding, teachers design learning activities tailored to their contexts and students. Situated learning theory and backwards design are in line with Mishra and Koehlerâ€&#x;s Learning Technology by Design model. When teachers engage in activities to design technology infused lessons and artificacts that are aligned with content and pedagogy, they develop a rich understanding of the interelated nature of the content, technology and pedagogy knowledge required to change their practice (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Contextual factors such as a lack of peer and administrative support can also influence adoption of technology integration (Brinkerhoff, 2006; Ertmer, 2005; Kopcha, 2010). Participation in professional learning communities can mediate the support barrier and motivate teachers to consider new uses for technology and promote sustainability of integration (Kopcha, 2010). Brown et al (1989) indicate that people continuously adapt their behaviors according to the belief systems of their social groups. Wenger (1998) describes a community of practice along the following three dimensions: 

What is about - joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiaed by its members


How it functions – the relationships of mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity

What capability it has produced – the shared repertoir of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artifacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

A situated perspective for professional development that makes room for the active participation of a learning community would appreciate the following four factors outlined by Wilson (1995): 1. A learning community reflects on and negotiates its own values, goals, and suitable conventions and practices. 2. Its members plan for and participate in learning activities that are aligned with the group‟s established goals, conventions and practices. 3. All community members observe and monitor learning while making the necessary adjustments to support each other to achieve the community‟s established goals. 4. Learning goals are occasionally reexamined in order to make room for improvements and motivation of learners, adjustments to goals and learning activities are made as they are deemed necessary. In a situated view of instruction all community members are commented to the learning goals and have a voice in instructional decisions. Wilson also notes that founding members are “more likely to believe in it. If they believe in the program, the chances of success increase dramatically.”

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 10 Conclusions New technologies should be introduced gradually, and professional development should introduce tools that will help teachers accomplish what they already value (Ertmer, 2005). Because the speed at which teachers adopt technology integration varies (Kopcha, 2008), newcomers to learning communities can begin learning through legitmate peripheral participation (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Lave and Wenger recognize that active participation in communities of practice increase as a newcomerâ€&#x;s knowledge and skills increase. Additonally, newcomers may benefit from observing expert teachers as they utilize technology for student-centred learning (Brown et al, 1989; Ertmer, 2005). Ertmer recognizes the challenges of finding quality models and releasing teachers from their classrooms for the purposes of observation. One alternative she suggests is to provide vicarious experiences through video and Web-based teaching models who demonstrate pedagogical beliefs inclusive of high quality technology integration. As a result of self-report data and participant interviews, Brinkerhoff (2006) recommends that professional development begin with a clearly defined goal for instruction and assessments, align with participantsâ€&#x; teaching interests, incorporate a variety of hands-on activities for individual and group projects, and provide accountability for implementation. Teachers will be more likely to alter their beliefs and adopt new behaviors when they percieve pedagogical changes will result in positive outcomes and the instruction has been presented by a valued and respected individual (Richey, Klein, & Tracey, 2011). Teachers who take an active role in their own learning, learn by designing technology infused activities aligned with content standards, and participate in small communities of practice, are more likely to increase their Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and adjust their pedagogy to include student-centered

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION 11 technology integration (Ertmer, 2005; Koehler et al, 2007; Kopcha, 2010; Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007; Niess, 2005).

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Theoretical Implications for Designing Professional Development for Technology Integration  
Theoretical Implications for Designing Professional Development for Technology Integration  

This paper presents support for situated professional development for teachers that focuses on backwards design principles for technology in...