Developing the Knowledge for Integrating Digital Technologies: Transforming Teachers' Knowledge

Developing the Knowledge for Integrating Digital Technologies: Transforming Teachers' Knowledge

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8879-5.ch002


Program leaders at Oregon State University proposed the development of an online Master of Science degree program for transforming K-12 inservice teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) for integrating 21st century technologies. The challenge was to identify instructional strategies for an online professional development environment dominated by asynchronous connections. The instructional team identified recommendations in transformative adult learning theory through the combination of key educational experiences with discourse and critical reflection toward transforming adults' thinking and understanding. This chapter presents an examination of the combination using spreadsheets as the technology integrated in science and mathematics instruction. The technology-infused learning experiences modeled inquiry tasks for engaging participants as students learning about and with spreadsheets followed by thinking and designing plans to integrate spreadsheets in the curriculum. The participants engaged in inquiry, communication and collaboration in these spreadsheet explorations. Discourse in small groups, communities of learners, and individual critical reflections revealed transformation in their thinking as identified through the four TPACK components. The discourse engagements also demonstrated that this shared knowledge supported the participants' individual knowledge development. Their reflections displayed transformations in their thinking that identified the use of spreadsheets as algebraic reasoning tools in the science/mathematics curriculum. The results provided direction for using this combination of strategies in the design of the online, graduate level, MS program with the goal of identifying best instructional practices for online, technology-infused instruction towards cognitive gains that enhanced the participants' TPACK transformations.
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You’re transforming old patterns of your mind and letting go of thoughts you don’t need to have around any longer. ~ Anonymous

The explosion of digital technologies in the 21st century expanded the access to educational opportunities for integrating digital technologies (hereafter referred to as technologies), in ways that potentially engaged students in deeper and more thoughtful learning. With affordable and diverse technologies, school-aged students gained increased access for use of the technologies as classroom learning tools. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, 2016) Student Standards claimed students had opportunities to use the technologies to construct knowledge, identify and solve problems, engage in computational thinking, and communicate creatively while collaborating and working in teams. Such 21st century technologies have provided students with opportunities to learn subject matter content and thinking skills through more collaborative and interactive explorations and investigations (ISTE, 2016; Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2015; Prensky, 2001, 2011; Thoughtful Learning Organization, 2016).

Implementation of diverse technologies in the classroom, however, has required that teachers incorporate new pedagogical strategies vastly different from the predominant teacher-directed pedagogies of the 20th century. That was a time when teachers imparted knowledge and students practiced and confirmed their understanding through worksheets and other activities. Yet, according to Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2015 survey on digital learning (Project Tomorrow, 2016), more than half (57%) of the principals indicated that “the lack of teacher training on how to integrate digital content within instruction is their top barrier holding back further expansion of their digital learning visions.” The task is to reform teachers’ knowledge for teaching with multiple technologies, a task that requires educational experiences for reframing their knowledge and understandings through experiences that challenge them to rethink, unlearn and relearn as they consider newer and more powerful digital technologies as educational tools (Niess, 2015). Today’s teachers must be prepared to incorporate these new digital technologies where they implement pedagogical strategies in vastly different ways than the predominantly teacher-directed pedagogies of the 20th century (Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe, & Terry, 2013). Essentially, they must be prepared to identify, orchestrate and manage activities to guide their students in working together as they incorporated technologies as integral tools in the learning activities. Arguably, these reformed instructional tasks call for a teacher knowledge more advanced than simply an understanding of the subject matter content (Johnson et al., 2016).

Teacher knowledge for the 21st century has been actively researched by many scholars (Angeli & Valanides, 2005; Margerum-Lays & Marx, 2002; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Niess, 2005; Pierson, 2001). Koehler and Mishra (2006) called this teachers’ knowledge a dynamic equilibrium composed of content, pedagogy and technology that they labeled Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge or TPACK. The nature of their proposal proposed an interdisciplinary lens for the development of this knowledge, portraying an accumulation of seven individual subset inputs (Technological Knowledge (TK), Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), and TPACK) that they displayed in their model (Figure 3 in Chapter 1).

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