Monday, November 28, 2011

“I have to revise my statement!”: A reflection in designing TPACK Professional Development Program

I still remember in “CIMA-Themes and Approaches” course I stated that technology in education is not means of education and not really an important aspect in teaching and learning process. I presumed that technology is just like supporting tool that is used by teacher to support a process of transferring knowledge in classroom. Moreover, I also assumed that technology is not possible to be implemented in learning environment which has limited sources and access of technology. However, after following a course called “Pedagogies for Flexibility Learning Supported by Technology”, I have to change my mind-set about using and integrating technology in teaching and learning process. Especially when I experienced valuable activities in designing TPACK professional development program, I attained much more insight about integrating technology at classroom. At the end of this blog I would re-state my statement about it. For now, I need to explain to you my personal reflection in designing TPACK professional development program.

Being assigned to make a project in designing professional development program is kind of challenging activity for me. Indeed, as a CIMA student who is encouraged to became a professional educational designer, getting involved into this project is a good opportunity to get in a real experience. As a junior educational designer, I attained that designing professional development program is not an easy work. At first, I have to know comprehensively what TPACK professional development program is. Indeed, I also have to attain better understanding what TPACK is. TPACK is an abbreviation from Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge. A teaching and learning framework that attempts to integrate technological aspect, pedagogical approach and content knowledge into teaching and learning process in a classroom. TPACK framework is promoted by Mishra and Koehler (2006). I already post about TPACK framework and my personal reflection about it in my previous blog. Thus, in this time I would not discuss theoretical concept of TPACK framework in further. I would reflect my personal and professional experience in the process of formulating and designing TPACK professional development program.

What should I do as an educational designer in designing TPACK professional development program?

I had to work in group of 3 with my Indonesian and Kenyan colleagues in designing TPACK professional development program. Indeed, it contributed me another challenge in working as group rather than as individual educational designer. Three of us came with different professional background. My Indonesian friend is an English teacher at one of state university in Indonesia, my Kenyan friend is also a teacher for Mathematic at a university in Kenya, and I came as training administrator for education and training centre in State Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia. I felt that working as a team with different professional educational background could give added value in our TPACK professional development product. Furthermore, I also experienced suitable work-load division in this project based on our professional, educational, experiential background. We chose to design TPACK professional development program for elementary science teachers in Tampan District, Pekanbaru, Indonesia. Pekanbaru is the capital city of Riau Province which is located in the Eastern-coast of Sumatera Island. Tampan District is not a big district like other districts in Indonesia. Thus, it became a challenge for us to design TPACK professional development program in remote area.

In designing TPACK professional development program many aspects have to be considered in order to make it on the right track. As an educational designer at least four aspects have to be considered in designing TPACK professional development program. Those aspects are the analysis of needs, contexts, learners, and content characteristics (Smith & Ragan, 2005). First, In order to attain the real needs of this TPACK professional development program we attempted to find out real problem that is needed to be solved. We found that Riau Provincial government of Indonesia expects schools to include instruction with technologies for better learning. We presumed that by promoting TPACK model effectively in their instructional practices could meet this objective. However, most of school did not familiar about TPACK framework, and science teachers have lack use of technology in their classes. Besides, most of teachers lack of training and experiences to understand how to use TPACK framework into their science instruction in classroom. Indeed, as guidance in identifying the needs, I also had to look up some literatures and research findings that relate to the implementation about TPACK framework for science subject.

Second, by participating in the process of designing TPACK professional development program I inferred that as an educational designer I inferred that is very imperative to consider about context or learning environments. I inferred that is not easy to fit the general framework of TPACK into our chosen context. As aforementioned, Pekanbaru, Riau-Indonesia is chose to become a locus where the TPACK professional development would be took place. In this phase, I attained that conducting context analysis is really important to be highly-considered by an educational designer. As an educational designer I have to get deeper understanding about context where the TPACK professional development program will be conducted. It because I attained that different context should have different educational treatment in a professional development or educational program. For instance, in Indonesian context, it seems not really appropriate if I design professional development program for integrating technology by using online tools in remote area or districts. It because Indonesia still has limited internet access and bandwidth in most of area or districts. Thus, I inferred that integrating technology in offline-based is kind of appropriate solution in this local context. Furthermore, time allocating in this TPACK professional development program also need to be considered properly. Conducting this program in working days is not a good decision with this context since teachers have to teach from the morning until the late afternoon. Based on my context analysis, conducting this TPACK professional development during the weekend is kind of appropriate decision. Surely, it would not work in most of countries conducting the program during the weekend. However, I learned that in Indonesian context, holding professional development program during the weekend is a common activity. In brief, as an educational designer, conducting context analysis is an imperative step before going further into more detail step in designing this professional development program.

Third, as an educational designer, I earned that in the process of designing TPACK professional development program considering the learners or participants is a must. I have to know level of prior knowledge that teachers—as participants in this program—already attained. Moreover, I need to know their educational and professional background. Indeed, I also need to know their level of knowledge in using technology for their classes. I inferred that as an educational designer by knowing that information about the teachers, I could adjust appropriate TPACK professional development program for them. Appropriate here means that the program meets the objectives of TPACK professional development program and also in good proportion for teachers’ knowledge—not too low or not too high expectation.  In this TPACK professional development program I had to design an appropriate program for 30 teachers in Tampan District, Pekanbaru-Riau, Indonesia. They are natural science teachers from 10 elementary schools. Most of them have attained Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Education. However, they are still having lack skill and knowledge in educational technology. Thus, it becomes another challenge for me as an educational in a team to design proper professional development program for them.

Fourth, deciding appropriate content for TPACK professional development program is the hardest part for me. Through this phase, I really attained new insight in designing professional development program. Initially, I wondered that choosing content for TPACK professional development program is a simple part of this process. It was wrong. Designing appropriate content for TPACK professional development program really need extra attention. This process really depends with previous steps in identifying needs, learners, and contexts of the TPACK professional development program. As an educational designer I inferred that the content in the TPACK professional development should consider what is the main objective or the problem that have to be solved with this program. Then, as I mentioned before that context of the TPACK professional development program—directly or indirectly—would give any influence to the content that will be provided in this professional development program. Furthermore, in designing professional development content, I have to consider the condition or the capacity of teachers as participants of this program. In the process of choosing appropriate content for this professional development program, at least we revised our ideas twice. However, this process made me attained new insight in formulating and designing appropriate content within TPACK framework. I also affirmed that brainstorming with other colleagues is really helpful for me to attain fresh idea. In general the content of this TPACK professional development program are divided into 3 phases; workshop, implementation, and up-scaling. We decided to promote natural science subject by using collaborative problem solving approaches that supported by interactive slides in Microsoft PowerPoint. Since my blog now is about my reflection in this process, I would not provide detail explanation about that content that I already stated on the proposal of this project. However, if you are interesting with this topic in detail, I would post another blog about this project.

How did I infer my professional experience as an educational designer by working with TPACK?

In designing TPACK professional development program, as an educational designer surely I had to work with the framework of TPACK itself. I could not deny that it was my first time working with TPACK framework. TPACK framework was freshly new for me. I did not know about that concept when I was studying for my bachelor in Indonesia. At the first time I also felt so curious about TPACK framework. I felt curios how TPACK framework could enhance teaching and learning process by integrating technology in pedagogical and content aspects. Furthermore, I also curios whether TPACK framework could be implemented in different context. I realized that in TPACK model, context based became a determinant aspect as well. However, one thing that made me so curios was whether TPACK framework could be conducted appropriately in a context with limited technological supports, such as a country with limited internet supports or information and communication technology facilities.

After getting involved in a team in designing TPACK professional development program and working with TPACK framework itself, I really attained new insight about TPACK framework. I attained that TPACK easy to ‘say’ but it is difficult to be implemented perfectly. However, it does not mean that TPACK framework is not possible to be implemented in appropriately. By working with TPACK framework, I attained that TPACK really has clear obvious elements that interrelate among other elements. TPACK has three elements (technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge) that have to be considered in formulating and designing teaching and learning strategy that is based on TPACK framework. I inferred that as an educational designer who is working with TPACK framework, considering three elements in TPACK framework could not be conducted separately. For instance, as an educational designer if I need to design a professional development program or a lesson about natural science at elementary level, I have to consider what is the content of that subject that is need to be delivered in line with pedagogical approaches that will be utilized and educational technology that should support that content and pedagogical approach. Thus, it is really clear for me that working with TPACK framework is not an easy job but it is really effective since as an educational designer I had to consider three main elements in teaching and learning process in integrative way. Moreover, I inferred that working with TPACK is not only how to mix those three elements, but also how to integrate it into an integrative design of TPACK framework. In addition, I also attained those three elements within TPACK framework could be adjusted with different context in different situation and condition. It really made me ‘comfort; that TPACK model is not only owned by schools or countries with high-end facilities in ICT, but also for schools or countries with limited ICT support.

How teachers could be stimulated to integrate technology following TPACK professional development program?

Fulan (2007) affirmed that “educational change depends on what teachers do and think—it’s as simple an as complex as that”. That statement is really appropriate with the situation of integrating technology in classroom. The change of teaching and learning process by integrating technology at classroom mostly dependent with teachers do and think. Thus, teachers have to be stimulated regularly in order to integrate technology in classroom. The main point is how to integrate it, not only use it as teaching tool. Teachers have to integrate it with particular pedagogical approach in specific subject content, Stimulating teachers to integrate technology in their teaching process within TPACK framework is not an instant process.

I presumed that there are three ways that have to be considered in order to stimulate teachers in integrating technology in classroom. First, an important thing and fundamental step is how to enhance teacher beliefs in integrating technology into their teaching process. Teachers should be sure that integrating technology in their teaching strategies for specific content is really useful and helpful for their teaching effectiveness. Teachers should be encouraged not only use technology, but also be promoted to integrate it into their teaching activities. Teachers should know that they are the central point of this change. They should be motivated that they play important role in integrating technology at classroom.

Second, I argued that support from school leadership could be another factor that stimulates teachers to integrate technology in classroom. School leadership should provide wide opportunity to teachers in developing their capacity and quality to integrate technology at classroom within TPACK framework by participating teachers into a professional development program. School leaders also should give policy support which enables teachers to implement and integrate technology appropriately. Moreover, most important thing that could be conducted by school leaders is by providing eligible technology facilities that makes teachers feel stimulated to integrate it with their pedagogical approaches in particular subject.

Third, conducting regular teachers meeting is another good idea to stimulate teachers in integrating technology into their teaching activities. Regular meeting here means that teachers should have gathering with other teachers from different school to share their ideas, experiences, and problems in integrating technology within TPACK framework. By sharing ideas, experiences and problems in peer-discussion teacher would attain better insight about integrating TPACK framework. Thus, with this regular meeting teachers are expected being stimulated to integrated technology into their teaching activities appropriately?

Why should I change my statement?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I have to revise my statement. Based, on my personal reflection in designing TPACK professional development program I attained that technology is not only supporting tool that support teaching and learning process. Technology could be a vital element that enhances the effectiveness of teaching and learning process if teachers could integrate it appropriately. Integrating technology with pedagogical approach in particular subject does not mean that teachers or schools should provide high-end and marvellous technical facilities. It can be adjusted with teachers and schools condition.  Thus, I affirmed that there are wide possibilities in integrating technology within TPACK framework at classroom. Yes, I have to re-state that technology is not only tools for supporting teaching and learning process, but it also can be a central focus of teaching and learning process itself. So, are you teachers with technophobia? Starting now I suggest you to make ‘a close relationship’ with technology. Then, we will see how technology changes education. Have a nice day with education and technology. :)

Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change (4th Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press,.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TPACK: When Technology meets Pedagogy and Content

Nowadays, technology has already become prominent factor that support all aspects of people life, such as health, politic and governance, economy and business, natural science, cultural, and surely in education sector. Like or dislike, agree or disagree, technology has embedded in our daily life. As a student who is concerning about educational science and technology, I would discuss about how technology has integrated in education sector. In educational process, technology has developed as an important element that supports teaching and learning process. As I mentioned in my first blog-post about flexibilities in education, technology can be a tool for supporting flexibility in education. Technology could provide several alternatives educational media in conveying knowledge on teaching and learning process. In educational setting, teachers could transfer knowledge and skill by using educational technology. Teachers also could adapt the educational technology into their pedagogical style and method. So, I argue that technological aspect could be combined with teachers’ pedagogical skill in transferring subject content in order to attain an effective learning. Those combinations are well known as a framework called TPACK. TPACK is the abbreviation from Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge. I would discuss it in the way I perceived that framework. 

How did I perceive TPACK as an innovation framework to enhance effective teaching and learning process? 

TPACK Framework by Koehler and Mishra (2009)
Before I discuss in depth about the framework of TPACK in my own insight, I would explain the fundamental concept behind it. The concept of TPACK framework establishes on Shulman’s (1987, 1986) descriptions of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to describe how teachers’ understanding of educational technologies and PCK interact with one another to produce effective teaching with technology (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). Furthermore, TPACK emphasizes the connections among technologies, curriculum contents, and specific pedagogical approaches, that demonstrate teachers’ understandings of technology, pedagogy, and content, that  interact with one another to produce effective discipline-based teaching with educational technologies (Harris, Mishra, & Koehler, 2009).

From those fundamental concept of TPACK, I perceived that TPACK is kind of solution framework to bridge teachers’ knowledge in content, pedagogical, and technological. Furthermore, TPACK framework is the integration concept that unifies three fundamental aspects in establishing effective teaching and learning. I inferred that in order to acquire best attainment of TPACK, there are some knowledge that have to be attained by the teachers. Based on the TPACK framework, I identified and classified it into two categories; basic knowledge and combination or interaction knowledge. Those classifications are based on my personal perspective and understanding in order to make TPACK framework easy to understand for me. 

In the basic knowledge, I identified that there are three elements that have to be mastered by teacher in order to attain good accomplishment of TPACK. First is content knowledge (CK). I inferred that CK is knowledge that has to become proficient by teachers related to subjects that they have to be taught and learned.  I considered that teachers have to comprehend deep understanding of fundamental theory, concept, and appropriate example of the subject or course that they need to be delivered to students. Second is pedagogical knowledge (PK). I perceived that PK is knowledge about how teachers use their knowledge concerning teaching and learning strategies, or methods. It includes teachers’ knowledge in designing lesson plan, managing classroom, choosing appropriate instructional strategies, identifying students’ characteristic, and conducting assessment process for the students. Third is technological knowledge (TK). TK is basic knowledge for teacher related to their proficiency in updating, adapting, and utilizing appropriate technology. I used word ‘adapting’ since technology is updated in every minute. It wisely to assume that teachers have to be updated with technological changes. For now, when this blog is written, teachers in this era should have proficiency skills in computer, internet connection, and some digitals gadgets such as tablet PC, smartphone, e-pad, etc. 

Furthermore, I inferred that there are there interactions of knowledge that have to be required by teachers to enhance the implementation of TPACK. First fundamental interaction of knowledge is pedagogical-content knowledge (PCK). PCK is about how teachers implementing intended pedagogical approaches in order to deliver contents of particular subject or course. It also about how teachers choose appropriate instructional strategies for particular subject materials. Second interaction of knowledge is technological-pedagogical knowledge (TPK). I perceived that TPK is how pedagogical aspect of teaching and learning can be adapted by using technology. I affirmed that with proficiency knowledge in TPK, teachers should know how the flexibility of technology could support and enhance effective pedagogical approaches. Third is technological-content knowledge (TCK). TCK is about how teachers attain deep understanding of the influence of technology in particular subject materials, and vice versa. It little bit confusing for me to understand this concept at first time. However, I acquired nice example to explain this knowledge. For instance, if teachers need to explain about microorganism in Biology subject, it is better to use digital microscope, instead of analog microscope. Surely digital microscope could provide better description about microorganism, rather than the analog one. From that example, I inferred that teachers have to know how change of technology could support subject matter in an appropriate way. 

From my personal insight about elements that support the framework of TPACK, I attained my own understanding about TPACK as an integrated framework. I perceived that TPACK is integrated concept about how technology auspices process of communicating and transferring content of a particular subject into students’ learning experiences by using intended appropriate pedagogical approaches in order to achieve effective teaching and learning process. TPACK should be implemented as a full framework. It would be not effective if teachers only implement the basic elements, or intersections of combinations from TPACK framework. Indeed, if it is implemented separately, it cannot be perceived as TPACK framework. Furthermore, another important thing about TPACK framework is about context. Teachers should also consider the context where the TPACK framework will be implemented in educational setting. I presumed that different context of educational setting more or less could influence the implementation of TPACK.

How did I remark the added value of TPACK framework in educational setting? 

The concept of technology in education, pedagogical approaches, and subject content expertise are not really new concept in education. As I mentioned before that Shulman (1987, 1986) already discovered about the concept of pedagogical-content knowledge. However, as an integrated concept, I inferred that TPACK framework is a great tool to enhance teaching and learning process in this century. I noted four added values from TPACK framework. 

First added value that I distinguished from TPACK framework is about integrated concept of teaching and learning strategies. As we already known that teaching and learning are complicated processes. Several aspects have to be considered in order to provide good result of teaching and learning experiences. Mostly teachers consider and prepare separately about content of particular subjects that have to be taught, appropriate pedagogical approaches, and technological support that will be used. By using TPACK framework, teachers could consider content of subject, pedagogical strategies, and educational technology support in same time within linear connections. Indeed, it will establish good connections that enhance better teaching and learning experience. 

Second added value of TPACK framework is about context. If I take a look at TPACK framework, the element of context is figured out around the whole elements of TPACK. It considers that educational context could give any influence in the implementation of TPACK. It became prominent added value for me since I argued that good educational concept or framework should be implemented in various educational contexts. I wondered that different teachers in different countries might have different operationalization of their TPACK framework based on their current and local situation. In this situation, the contexts can be adapted to TPACK framework, or vice versa. Thus, I concluded that the framework of TPACK is not only owned by teachers in well developed countries where the framework is developed, but also owned by teachers in other countries with different situations. Indeed, I considered that TPACK really has flexibility and adaptability based on this situation. 

Third, I attained that TPACK framework could support an evaluation process of teaching activities in a classroom. TPACK is really useful to be used in order to evaluate the quality of teaching process. It is because TPACK has clear variables that can be developed as measurement tools. In TPACK framework, teaching process can be evaluated by measuring whether teacher could integrate technology in their pedagogical approaches in order to convey subject content. If the result found that there is a lack in particular knowledge (technological, pedagogical, or content), teacher can easily assist to identify it in TPACK framework. Thus, teachers could improve their lack to enhance good implementation of TPACK in order to achieve effective teaching and learning process. I realized that TPACK is not the only way to measure the teaching process, but I affirmed that at least TPACK has clear description about three important elements in teaching process by teachers at classroom. 

Fourth, I perceived that TPACK is not only focused to improve teaching and learning process, but also to enhance professional development of teacher. I supposed that by implementing TPACK framework, teachers are encouraged to enhance their knowledge in mastering the content of particular subject, selecting suitable pedagogical approaches, and using appropriate educational technology. Moreover, I considered that in TPACK framework teachers are provided with a big opportunity to design their intended instructional process. Besides, in order to communicate particular subject content, teachers have space to enhance their pedagogical skill in choosing appropriate teaching strategies and methods that suitable with student characteristic and classroom setting. Then, within TPACK framework, teachers are provided a chance to develop their skill in using appropriate technology that is adjustable into content and pedagogical approaches. Thus, I concluded that TPACK framework also can be assumed as a supporting system to encourage teacher professional development.

Based on my explanations about TPACK, I attained new insight that TPACK is kind of wonderful idea in emerging three fundamental aspects of teaching. With some added values that are given by TPACK, I wondered that it really nice if young teachers are introduced to this framework. It is so useful for their teaching quality improvement and professional development. However, how does to explain TPACK framework to senior teacher that already have a lot of teaching experiences? For me, I just want to start telling them with simple words: “TPACK is when technology meets pedagogy and content”. Ok, I have to stop blogging now. Thank you for reading my blog. :)

Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers ’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.               

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Technology for schools; why not?

Figure 1. Interface of Web 2.0: Cool Tools for Schools
Last Wednesday, I experienced nice activity in one of my master course in CIMA (Pedagogies for Flexible Learning Supported by Technology). On that lesson, we were assigned to explore many kinds of educational technology innovation that support teaching and learning process. I browsed nice educational website called Web 2.0: Cool tools for school. I just realized that there is a wonderful website that combined lot of technological application that supports educational activities. It categorizes those applications into several sections, such as presentation tools, research tools, video tools, collaborative tools, file storages and webpages, etc. It makes easy for users or schools to utilize their intended application based on their needs. For example, if teachers want to make nice presentations about their subjects, they can go directly to ‘presentation tools’ section. Another example if teachers want to share their learning materials to their students with large size files, they can use ‘file storages and webpage’ section. I experienced that contents organization in this simple website is so good.

Figure 2. Home interface of the Dropbox
At that time, I decided to explore about file storages and webpage section. I considered exploring this section since file sharing through online media is interesting issue about education technology implementation for schools in my country; Indonesia which has low internet connection. I decided to explore more about ‘Dropbox’ application. The ‘Dropbox’ is kind of tool that allow users to share their files to other. The Dropbox is just common application for students or people who are living in developed countries. How about for those who are living in developing countries? Let’s say my country; Indonesia. File sharing using sharing tools like the ‘Dropbox’ becomes fascinating issue. It is because most of teachers or students at secondary and higher education level are still using e-mail to do file sharing. Indeed, there are some limitations if they are still using e-mail for sharing their academic documents. I experienced that email could only attach file size maximum 20 to 25 MB, depends on mail provider. With the Dropbox we can share our files up to 250 MB. Besides, we also could increase our Dropbox capacity by inviting other to join the Dropbox, and then we can obtain 250 MB extra. In addition, large size files sharing through email really takes time in the countries with limited internet bandwidth. It consumes time to upload files, sending files, and surely download it by recipient.

Figure 3. Sub-folders in the Dropbox folders
Furthermore, it is easy to use the Dropbox for teachers who have limited skills in information and communication technology. They just need to copy their files into the Dropbox folder which is usually located under ‘My Documents’. They also can make sub-folders on it. Then, to share files which are located under particular sub-folder, teachers just have to invite their students to join that sharing folder. So, they can easily upload and download that files. However, it is recommended to copy the intended files into their local disk, if students want to modify it. Then, upload it again with renamed file. It is important to avoid file crash if some students open and save a file in same time with same file name. I considered that teachers should make brief guideline for the students to use the Dropbox.
From this experience I inferred that technology can be implemented at schools in limited conditions. In developing countries which lack of internet connection and bandwidth, we can use technology application that suitable for that condition. It is because educational technology applications are not only designed for high-end technological facilities. Some of them were also designed for basic technological support facilities. Furthermore, I also perceived that technology has flexibility to be implemented to support teaching and learning process. Schools can adjust their intended educational technology that will be implemented based on their needs and also current conditions that support it. If there is a will to implement educational technology at schools, it must be a way to do it. Thus, technology at schools; why not?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The SimSchool brings your classroom into your screen

What is the SimSchool?

Figure 1. Interface of the SimSchool
Another technology innovation has invented in educational world. It is not like common educational technology that is only focused to facilitate effective learning for students through electronic learning (e-learning) or mobile learning (m-learning). However, this innovation of educational technology is focused on teachers’ perspective. It is called SimSchool. The SimSchool is a kind of web-based technology of learning for teachers in order to enhance their teaching capacity. It is also intended for educational practitioners who want to explore about teaching approaches. Furthermore, the SimSchool is web-based classroom simulation that gives teachers experiences in making analysis of teaching approach for different characteristic of students. One thing that I thought really nice is about the immediate result. Teachers could gather data about their chosen pedagogical approach and see their teaching results of the whole class or particular students directly after finishing a model. Honestly, it is the first time for me to get acquainted with this kind of web-based technology. At my first impression, I experienced that this program is really good web-based teacher support. I presume that it really helps teachers to encourage their capacity.

How does it work?

In order to get deeper understanding about this program and to prove my first impression, I did a practice with the SimSchool. I conducted a-45 minutes teaching scenario (1 minute Sim’s time is equal to 10 seconds in real life). That teaching scenario is called “Everly’s Bad Day”. Everly is virtual student that is created and provided by the SimSchool in this lesson plan module. In this module, I should implement three different teaching approaches. To implement that intended teaching approaches initially I have to click Kiverly. Then, I can choose different teaching approaches in 4 different levels of comprehension; recall, skill/concept, strategic thinking, and extended thinking. Before that I have to make sure that I already clicked ‘play’ button. It means that teaching and learning process is on the progress. Those options are provided in the bottom left and right of the SimSchool interactive-classroom interface. At the end of simulation I could preview the Everly’s performance report based on the task that is given in this module.
Figure 2. Control panel of the SimSchool interface

Figure 3. The result of Everly's performance
In “Everly’s Bad Day” module I started with assigned Everly to go over last week’s lessons’. This task is categorized under recall teaching approach to enhance comprehension of the student.  Then, Everly is assigned to take notes during lecture. Sure, it is considered to stimulate strategic thinking of the students. Lastly, I assigned Everly to take an oral quiz. This assignment is considered same as the first assignment to enhance recall comprehension of the student. Each assignment took 15 minutes. At the end of the lesson of this module, I could see a report of Everly’s performance based on teaching module that I implemented. I found the result of academic and agreeableness aspect of Everly was decline at the beginning until the end of module. I assume that happened since the teaching strategies that are given to him are not really match with the personal character of Everly. He is the student who really talks a lot, likes varieties of learning experiences and interaction with others, and also learns best by doing. From this simulation I learnt that it is really important to apply appropriate teaching strategies to particular student. If that teaching strategies are still used for Everly, I assure it is really 'a bad day' for him. 

How did I perceive the SimSchool web-based simulation into the concept of pedagogy and tecnology?

I really acquired positive impression through the SimSchool. It helped me to attain deeper understanding about the concept of pedagogical approach. That concept is becoming clearer for me now. I consider that the SimSchool is really proper for new teachers who need to explore many kinds of pedagogical approaches without ‘hurting’ students as the experiment objects. An important thing for me is that teachers could see the feedback directly about their teaching strategies. Indeed, it gives wide opportunities for teachers to reflect in what they have already done, and makes another experiment with different approaches.
Likewise, I thought that the SimSchool is in the line of the concept of TPACK model. In the TPACK model shows that there is a relation and connection between pedagogical and technological aspect. It is called technological pedagogical knowledge. It is an understanding of how teaching and learning change when particular technologies are used (Harris, et al., 2009). Indeed, from that definition I attained new insight that teachers who are using the SimSchool as their technological support to their pedagogical approach would experience different teaching and learning process. Teacher would be well-prepared since their already attained initial experience of implementing pedagogical approaches through web-based simulation.

Furthermore, another interest thing that I inferred from the SimSchool is about the options of pedagogical strategies that are offered. As mentioned before, those pedagogical strategies are categorized into four levels of comprehension; recall, skill/concept, strategic thinking, and extended thinking. Based on my prior knowledge that I have from my bachelor studies, I attempted to connect those four pedagogical strategies with Bloom’s taxonomy in theoretical framework. I found that in this concern, the SimSchool represents the basic dimension of Bloom’s taxonomy. It combines two basic dimensions of Bloom’s taxonomy; knowledge and cognitive process dimensions (Krathwohl, 2002).  Indeed, I argue that the teachers could use this amenity to design good lesson plan for the students with considering the level of comprehension with appropriate teaching strategies.

Moreover, in the SimSchool I experienced how it helps the teacher in pre-observing their intended pedagogical strategies. From the perspective of teaching strategies, I inferred that at least five pedagogical approaches are represented in the SimSchool. Those approaches are: 
1. Traditional learning. I attained that traditional learning is a conventional teaching and learning strategies. If the teachers intend to apply this pedagogical approach, they could attempt to make simulation on it by choosing the options that are provided by the SimSchool. Those teaching options are by giving some tasks, such as: do an oral quiz, go over last week’s lessons, recite a lengthy poem, and take a written test. 
2. Problem-based learning. I inferred that the teaching and learning process is started with a problem that has to be solved. I experienced that the SimSchool provides the teacher with this options. Teacher could choose some tasks such as: apply a formula, create a graphic, compare and contrast, and develop a hypothesis. 
3. Collaborative learning. I perceived that collaborative learning is how the teaching process involves students with learning activities. I thought that if the teachers eager to implement this approach they could attempt to choose particular tasks in the SimSchool, such as take a pop quiz, do whole-class oral response, play a game, and student-lead class discussion 
4. Inquiry learning. I acquired that in inquiry learning is when the teachers assign students to inquire and explore about something in-depth. I assumed that the SimSchool provides it with some task options such as do a brief presentation from memory, do silent reading, takes notes during lecture, and analyze text. 
5. Project-based learning. Indeed, I affirm that teachers give a project to students as the process of learning. Some simulation options can be chose from the SimSchool such as do design on multiple criteria, make a creative product, and develop a project plan.

From the discussion above I perceived that the SimSchool is like a bridge that establishes connection between the concept of pedagogical approaches and educational technology. The SimSchool as a technological support surely assist teachers to getting acquainted with their intended pedagogical approaches. I imagine how messy teaching and learning process, if the teachers experiment their various pedagogical approaches in one time. And surely I assume that the teachers would not attain appropriate feedback on it.

In my perspective as CIMA student, I also experienced that SimSchool is kind of pedagogical approach that that is used by Dr. Petra Fisser and Prof Gerald Knezek. They attempted to embed web-based technology into their teaching process. Surely, it is helpful for me since I gathered understanding of pedagogical concept from this simulation. Indeed, it will support my preparation if I need to teach a group of students in real situation.
Lastly, based on my reflection of the SimSchool, I come up with two suggestions. First, it would be better if the SimSchool not only provides different teaching strategies, but also different subjects. I presume that different subjects also need different pedagogical approaches. I wonder that appropriate pedagogical subject for appropriate subject would enhance better performance. Second, it also better if the SimSchool provides options of teaching tools or media (e.g. smart-board, tablet-PC, smartphone, etc.). I consider that SimSchool will better and represent real situation of teaching and learning process in classroom by considering those suggestions. I think that is all of my idea and reflection about SimSchool. I have to stop ‘blogging’ now, since I want to play the SimSchool again :). Who wants to 'play' with me?


Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers ’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.
Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of bloom's taxonomy: An overview. [Article]. Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 212.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flexibility in Educational Process

“Education”. In generally, first impression after read or hear that word could be a school building, where students are sitting in some rows, with a teacher explaining a set of organized-learning materials in front of class. That common paradigm of education is not wrong. Schools in most of country are still adopting that teaching and learning setting. However, is it possible to be more flexible in education? Is it possible for student to learning outside classroom? Is it possible for the students to choose their course based on their needs? Indeed, those possibilities of flexibility in education can be implemented. Collis & Moonen (2001) affirm that student in higher education already took part in flexible learning since long time ago. They have flexibility to choose their intended courses, learning materials, learning experiences, and arrange their preferred time and place for study. Thus, what is flexible learning in this context? Collis & Moonen (2001) define flexible learning is a change of educational setting which key decisions about learning dimensions are decided in advance by the instructor or institution, toward a situation where the learner has a range of options from which to choose with respect to time, content, entry requirements, instructional approaches and resources, and delivery and logistics. 

Those five major dimensions of learning flexibility (Collis & Moonen, 2001) will be described below: 
1. Flexibility related to time. Students have flexibility to choose their starting time and finishing time of their study. For example in University of Twente students have options to choose whether to intake their study in February or September during an academic year. Furthermore, they also can decide their own pace of studying (e.g. 2 years Pre-Master program instead of 1 year). Besides, this flexibility also related to options that are provided by teacher to students in order to meet a deadline of assignment submission. 

2. Flexibility related to content. Students are pleased to choose their own courses based on their needs. This flexibility is commonly implemented in most of higher education institution. Students have a freedom to arrange their own course schedule based on their sequent chose. Nice example of this flexibility is in EST program. Students have wide-open opportunities to choose their interested track, CIMA, EMEA, or HRD. Besides, higher education in the Netherlands also gives good example for this flexibility. Students in Netherlands can choose Hoogeschool if they prefer to continue their higher education in practical framework. For those who prefer in theoretical and research framework, they can continue their higher education to Universiteit. Moreover, flexibility in content also means the students are offered options of assessment standard and completion requirements, such doing project assignment instead of written assignment. 

3. Flexibility related to entry requirements. Students are offered a flexibility of entry requirements in participating educational process at an education institution. Nice example concerning this flexibility is about admission to Unversity of Twente. Prospective students who have sufficient educational background can be admitted directly to master Program. Then, for those who still need basic academic requirements can be offered to participate Pre-Master program before they continue to Master program. Besides, the university also offered full/part time study concerning conditions for participation in educational process. 

4. Flexibility related to instructional approaches and resources. Students are offered wide opportunities in participating learning experience. Students could experience face-to-face course with teacher, or doing task in group or individually. In some international educational institution students are offered options to choose their preferred language during the course or in doing assignment or exam (e.g. English, Dutch, German, France, etc.). Furthermore, in order to attain appropriate learning resources students are offered freedom to explore from many sources such as library, internet, or from other students. 

5. Flexibility related to delivery and logistics. In the line of technology development in education this flexibility in education is really supported. Students are provided flexible communication media by their teacher. Students could contact the teacher through email or digital learning environment anytime, anywhere, with any devices. In addition, in order to deliver a learning content many social media can be used such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Blog and Wiki are also used as method and media of sharing knowledge and information from teacher to students, and students to students. Thus, students are not strived to sit in classroom with old-education-setting.

Example of Web-based Technology that Support Flexible Learning Khan Academy is an appropriate example of flexible learning. Salma Khan—Bangladesh-American, MBA Harvard University graduate—is the founder of Khan Academy.  Khan academy is non-profit educational website that provides more than 2,400 instructional video for students in the world. Many subjects are provided in this learning website, such as Algebra, Arithmetic, Biology, Physics, Finance and Banking, Chemistry, Computer Science, etc.

Khan Academy really supports flexible learning. Students and teachers in around the world could access this website anytime, anywhere, with any devices. It also offers wide range options of subjects that can be chose based on learner needs. Indeed, students can decide their own time when they want to start watch the video, and when to finish it. In order to establish communication way, students are provided an access if there is a problem during learning and exercising in this website. Furthermore, it also provides link (the Khan Academy Meetups) that make possible for learner to do a discussion with other members in their own country or around the world. Some instructional video already have subtitle from many different languages. Indeed, students have a freedom to choose the language that they prefer. Not all video have subtitles since those are made by volunteers around the world who supported this non-profit website. Nevertheless, Khan Academy proves how flexible learning can be implemented nicely in worldwide context.

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001, second printing 2002). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's me, Zeno!

Who is Zeno?

Muhammad Farid Zeno is my full name. Everyone usually call me Zee or Zeno. I am Indonesian student who received StuNed Scholarship for studying at University of Twente, the Netherlands. I accomplished my Bachelor of Education from State University of Jakarta in 2007. I took Management of Education major in Faculty of Educational Science. I did my bachelor thesis on the implementation of educational management information system (EMIS) in order to enhance total quality service (TQS) in senior high school level. Now, I am currently working as government official since 2007. I am working as Training Administrator for Technical Education and Training at State Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia. My job task is to administer training and education for government employee in order to enhance high qualified human resources. In detail, I do training needs assessment (TNA), analyzing and planning the curriculum, providing learning materials and supports, and calculating for education and training budget.

Why I am interested to Pedagogies for Flexible Learning supported by Technology course?

I enrolled this course not only to earn more European Credits (EC) in order to attain Master of Science degree in CIMA program.  I could not find this interesting course in my previous study. I think it is so interesting for me since this course offer really specific objective how pedagogies for flexible learning supported by technology. Besides, I am really interested to study and explore in-depth about flexible learning. Related to my professional background in training and education center, providing flexible learning for the government employees in Indonesia is a must. They have to work from Monday to Friday, from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. It is really not suitable to conduct education and training program during the weekend. Thus, I expect to learn how to design an appropriate flexible education and training in this course. In my prior opinion, providing flexible learning experience for them could enhance human resources quality without bother their working time and responsibilities as government employees.

Furthermore, I also expect to learn how technology innovation in education could support that flexible learning. I assume that technology support (e.g. learning management system (LMS), e-learning, m-learning, digital learning environment (DLE)) can be an answer to provide suitable flexible learning experience. I need to discover the uses of technology support in this context. It because based on my profession experience technology supports are provide, but It was not used appropriately in enhancing flexible learning. Moreover, I also expect that this course can be a fundamental understanding for my research thesis. I plan to do my master thesis in exploring technology acceptance of school, teacher, and student in order to integrate technology in their teaching and learning process based on Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) from Davis, et al. (1989).