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Why Technology Workshops for Teachers Are Really Necessary

 

So often when I talk with teachers, they express frustration about a lack of support in their professional development. The focus and emphasis is largely on the technology tools that are provided to their students and teachers, with a lack in supporting teachers in appropriate pedagogical strategies to use those technologies. Teachers are asking for technology workshops.

K-12 teachers have been pressured for the past two decades, 1990-2014, to integrate technology. However, in many cases they have seen very few models that address how to accomplish this. The Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework can help guide trainers in how to provide teacher workshops with regards to technology. Each component within TPACK is equally important, and equal distribution each of the components creates the best learning environment for students (Koehler & Mishra 2008). Figure 1 taken from Koehler and Mishra (2008) demonstrates the combination of components of the TPACK framework.  


Figure 1. TPACK. Reprinted from Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) for Educators, p. 12, by M. J. Koehler & P. Mishra, 2008. New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Copyright 2008 by the authors. Reprinted with permission.


TPACK emphasizes teachers’ knowledge because teachers are the biggest influences in the classrooms. In respect to the curriculum and standards, teachers have historically decided what would be taught and how it would be taught on a daily basis. Yet when provided with devices, there is very little training, if any. Focusing on teachers’ knowledge is the key place to start when looking at transforming classrooms. As new technology tools hit the stage like the iPads in 2010, and a focus on classroom rollouts with 1:1, stakeholders want to know, Do [insert tech device here] make a difference in the classroom? When realistically, the question that should be asked is, How can teachers use [insert tech device here]  to influence learning? Or, What subject matter instruction is enhanced by the use of [insert tech device here] ? The technologies used are irrelevant if the teacher is not equipped to use those technologies properly. Using the TPACK framework allows leaders to support educators by looking at equal distribution of the core aspects of TPACK: Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge. The piece that has been missing from this puzzle has been the pedagogy.

Using the TPACK framework allows leaders to support educators by looking at equal distribution of the core aspects of TPACK: Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge.
— Dr. Malia Hoffmann

Using TPACK effectively requires a full understanding of each area and how to use and apply each of the core components. TPACK applies a variety of technologies that represent concepts and facilitate pedagogical techniques to differentiate teaching (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). An educator who incorporates TPACK effectively is able to build on students’ prior knowledge by including appropriate technologies and best pedagogical practices. The incorporation of all three components, Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge, blends technology seamlessly into the classroom. The teacher does not use technology for its own sake, but rather has an educational purpose, and is able to find several different applications of those tools. An effective TPACK integrating educator is able to model this framework in instruction daily and provide an integrated teaching approach to meet the diverse needs of all learners (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Yet, if a teacher is not comfortable in the technologies, or hasn’t be trained in how to use those technologies appropriately they are not set up for success.

Technology workshops for teachers must be provided because many educators are apprehensive in tackling new technologies for fear of the devices’ lack of educational impact or the pending time vacuum that implementing technology might incur. These workshops should provide teachers with an immersive, meaningful learning experience that engage them with solid content  and pedagogy (Ackermann, 2001). This immersion should be representative of the way these technologies are used in the world or in today’s workplace.

Teachers need support and training on not only how to use the technology tool, but also the different pedagogical strategies with regards to the different subject matter. These teacher workshops should be leveled and differentiated to meet the needs of all educators. Afterall, don’t we expect our teacher to do that for their students? Shouldn’t we do the same for our educators?


References

Ackermann, E. (2001). Piaget’s constructivism, Papert’s constructionism: What’s the difference? Retrieved from http://learning.media.mit.edu/content/publications /EA.Piaget%20_%20Papert.pdf

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) for educators. New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x