Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TPACK: Total PACKage of Teachers’ Creativity

What is TPACK?

Basically, TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. TPACK is built on Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) by adding the aspect of technology knowledge into it. We may see that there are 3 components of knowledge combined together in there: technology, pedagogy, and content. Let us look at them closer!

Content Knowledge (CK) refers to what subject and what goals to be reached. In traditional approach, this knowledge has been emphasized a lot without giving proper attention to other knowledge. Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) refers to the best way to teach the subject and reach the intended goals. Adding the PK to the CK will result in Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) which surely makes teacher knowledge much better than the traditional approach. Since its introduction in 1987, PCK has become a widely useful and used notion.

Not every pedagogical approach is best suited to any particular content. Therefore, it is expected that by having PCK teachers will be able to select among many approaches the best way (pedagogy) to deliver the information (content).
Figure 1. Pedagogical Content Knowledge
source: http://tpack.org

Later, Technology Knowledge (TK) came up as a need of tools that make teachings more effective. The facts of many teachers are inadequate (or inappropriate) experienced with using technology, or even worse they do not value the technology, makes this knowledge become very important.

Combined with CK, TK appears as Technological Content Knowledge (TCK). It is related with knowing what technology that appropriate to a particular subject or topic. Similar with PCK issue, it is found also that not every technology can be used to teach any content. In short, we may say that TCK is about how to use technology to support the subject or content.

TK can be also combined with PK and become Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK). This knowledge will allow teachers to see many possibilities of new ways of learning by using technology. On the other hand, technology can also put constrain to pedagogical approach. Then, the teachers should be encouraged to use their TPK to deal with this case.

Finally, we are in the last combination of those components. It is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) or more commonly called as TPACK. TPACK is the knowledge about how CK, PK, and TK work together.

Figure 2. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
source: http://tpack.org

From the model, we can see that TPACK always work in a specific context. A specific context meant here refers to an institution, a school, or a classroom. Therefore, integration efforts should be designed for particular content in specific context (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).


Technology is changing rapidly. Somehow it becomes too much and get teachers overwhelmed. Therefore, teachers must do more than how to use technologies with new techniques or skills. Due to this phenomenon, the idea of integrating technology to teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge turns to be frustrating. This is the reason why TPACK become very important.

In their video Koehler and Mishra mentioned that technology changes WHAT we teach (content) and HOW we teach (pedagogy), as well. This is what TPACK is meant for: to understand the complex relationship between technology, content, and pedagogy and do the changes needed for the effective teachings.

Implications (Added Value) of TPACK

There are two main added values of TPACK framework that I found from the literatures: Teacher Professional Development (TPD) and effective Technology Integration Program (TIP).

TPACK is a complete knowledge needed by a teacher. Having this knowledge will benefit teachers to run effective teaching activities. Activity types list from Harris, Mishra and Kohler (2009) is to help teachers become aware of many possibilities of activity options and many different ways that tools support one to another. This list can be also used to select among, customize, and combine activity types that are well matched to students’ needs and a particular context. The continuous application of this knowledge eventually will enhance teacher ability and support TPD itself. I would like to say that continuous process in TPACK implementation will lead to continuous process of TPD, as well.

In abovementioned paragraph it is said that TPACK is necessary to effective teaching. Every single effective teaching will lead to a successful TIP in a specific context. For example, when TPACK is implemented well by all teachers in their own classrooms, we may be sure that the effective TIP successfully happens in that school.

In addition, TPACK framework also offers possibilities for the researches. The promoting researches can be carried out in teacher education, TPD, or TIP (Kohler & Mishra, 2009). The researches may explore and compare many TPACK-based models implemented in teacher education, TPD, or TIP. For examples, TPACK-based professional development models. It is expected, of course, that the result will be useful to develop those TPACK-based models.


“Teaching is a complicated practice,” said Petra in her previous lecture. She affirmed that teacher needs many specialized knowledge. Based on my previous profession as an elementary teacher for 6 years, it is very true. Many things should be considered during the preparation of and during the lesson, as well. For many times, I had to admit that I lack of appropriate knowledge to run my teaching activities.

Dealing with the use of technology in my lesson brought me to another complication. I was often trapped to learn more about how to work with the technologies rather than examining whether it is best suited or not with my lesson. Recently, based on my reading and personal understanding I got new insight that learning about how to use technology is definitely different than learning what to do with it. Now, I believe that the knowledge of what to do with technology is more essential for teachers than the techniques or skill needed to use the technology.

Furthermore, in my opinion, TPACK is closely related with teachers’ creativity. It is not merely about thinking out of the box with astonishing or unique thought or idea, but also how useful the idea is. Later, the integration of the idea and its value may result in completeness of creativity.

I remember the card game we played in our first lecture with Petra. Together with two of my classmates, I had to think about a best-suited way to teach a specific content using a particular technology. The cards we got are Geometry (content), Discussion (pedagogy), and Video/recording (technology). At that moment, we used our limited TPACK to find the best solution. It was so interesting and I enjoyed the game very much, although the solution we got was so “weird”. Petra successfully proved that TPACK is not as simple as I thought when I heard the name.

I learnt that TPACK allows many possibilities; no more walls between Technology, Content, and Pedagogy exist. Integration of those knowledge results in a total package needed to have effective integrate technology. Actually, this is not a new brand in educational activity because many experienced teachers might understand TPACK instinctively. The problem emerged here is that they often do not use this knowledge properly. Therefore, as the designers of their own teaching, teachers should be encouraged to apply TPACK to get Total PACKage of their creativity.
In this case, Total PACKage will become total benefit.

That’s another discovery of mine…

Ready to have TPACK with you? Why not!


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

Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology. (2008). Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators. New York: Routledge.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

simSchool: The Game of Teaching

About simSchool 

The game of simSchool is a ‘flight simulator’ for the teachers that can be found in www.simschool.org. It is a classroom simulation that analyzes student differences, adapts instruction to individual learner needs, gathers data about the impacts of instruction, and views the results. In simSchool instructors can explore instructional strategies, examine classroom management techniques, and practice building relationships with students that will improve learning activities.

Image 1. Clasroom simulation with two students.

In simSchool the player is a teacher and responsible for the learning of all students. Similar with the real school, the teacher can learn about the students by reading their student profiles that include statements about their behavior and learning preferences.

In the simSchool classroom, the player can select tasks or conversational activities to best fit the students’ profile. Students respond to tasks with changes in posture and statements. As simSchool is played, the player makes decisions and experiment, and based on what happens the strategies will be refined. With simSchool we can play to learn to develop expertise and think like a teacher.

Based on what written on www.simschool.org the results of experience playing with this simulation are real and measureable. They include:
  • improvement in general teaching skill 
  • improved confidence in using technology 
  • increased belief that the teacher has the skills and ability to make a difference in a child's life 
  • improvement in pre-service teachers' performance in teacher preparation courses and attitudes toward inclusion of special needs students 
  • significant positive impact on the mastery of deeper learning capacities that comprise the readiness to teach 
  • increased "staying power" on the path to the field of teaching acquired through rapid development of strong self-efficacy and resilience 
In simSchool, success comes through helping all simStudents improve, both in their academic performance and their behaviour. It is expected that simSchool may enable teachers to have real experience and become more effective as a teacher in classrooms and as a leader in learning communities.

The module "Everly’s bad day" 

The module "Everly’s bad day" is a set of tasks for Everly for 45 minutes lesson. The module provides none of conversation and only three task assignments for Everly to improve his learning. The tasks are including:
  • 15 minutes of “going over last week’s lesson” 
  • 15 minutes “taking notes during lectures” 
  • 15 minutes of “taking an oral quiz” 
During the lesson there are three boxes labeled (Power, Happiness and Academic) can be tracked. These boxes are visual reports of how Everly is doing. And also, I kept watching the “simulation time” to ensure the task not be overtime.

At the end of lesson, I viewed Everly’s reports, as shown below: 

Image 2. Everly's Report
The report shows that Everly's academic performance was declining. It may point out that the incorrect strategies were given to him during the lesson.

Image 3. Everly's Summary Report


Based on this module I acted as a teacher in the classroom. The first thing I did is reading the profile of the student (Everly). There are two kinds of information I found on the laptop, namely Everly’s personality profile and (previous) teacher reflection. In this simulated classroom, I believe that the very first thing a teacher must do is analyzing student needs before doing another activities.

In the relationships profile, it is shown that Everly is self-confident and likes stimulation and challenges. From the tasks in the module, we may see that there is no simulation given to him. He did successfully do the tasks, but the activities surely did not fit with his needs.

It is said that when approaching tasks, Everly likes variety and interaction, learns best by "doing", and likes to work with others. This is in line with what teacher reflection stated in his profile that he really likes outside stimulation and social interaction. It did not happen during the lesson because he did all tasks individually and most of the time he could not get along with other students.

Everly is also generally positive and enthusiastic; likes to plan and have structure, needs closure, completes every task, wants everything "to count" toward the grade; creative, makes up hypotheses, improvises answers, takes risks. This profile describes him as a person who really likes the high-demanding tasks. This kind of tasks would increase his motivation and academic performance. Unfortunately, he did not get this task.

By following the instruction on the module step by step, I am in line with the activity of making instructional decisions. However, in this case, I did not decide it by myself and just followed the instructional decisions decided in the module. It was a pity, but I still can play it later by myself. Hope it would be fun! :)

During each task given, I observed Everly’s posture. This is a kind of evaluation to see the impact of the activities on student learning in order to succeed at the game. I noticed that Everly’s posture was changed for every new task given to him, but eventually he always ends with ‘get bored’ sitting position. I was tempted to do something to deal with the boredom, but then I kept strict with the lesson plan to see the result of this module.

Other remark from my experience playing simSchool with the module given is the missing conversational statement. There should be conversations with Everly since conversations impact a student’s behaviour and academic performance. The combination of the correct choice of tasks and the conversation would eventually lead to the correct use of instructional strategies which is referring to pedagogy.

Lastly, I found that simSchool as one of the uses of technology to support teacher professional development. The game of simSchool provides learning environment for the teachers to do experiments with their strategies without giving the students in real classroom any risk. It is suitable for pre-service teachers in preparation program, for in-service teachers to improve their pedagogical expertise, for the designer to find the best strategies for specific needs, and also for the researcher.

Let’s play simSchool! :)



Monday, October 3, 2011

Flexible Learning (in five W's and one H)

“Flexible” is a lovely word for me. When heard that word, some people may refer to a situation without any rule. No, it is not like that way. For me, being flexible means that I have enough space to adjust to any unexpected circumstances I face. Of course, some conditions should be applied for it. Let me say that there should be guidelines for being flexible. Otherwise, chaos and confusion will happen, and then ruin everything.

What is flexible learning? For the first time, I was not quite sure about the meaning. Then, after following Petra’s first lecture I got some insights. First, it is not just about the distance (Collis & Moonen, 2001). Flexible learning offers many opportunities related to the variety of learner needs, learning environment, and other aspects of learning. By doing flexible learning, it is hoped that learners could choose, as they desire, from a range of options determined in advance by the instructor or institution (Collis & Moonen, 2001). It is also reported that it can increase learning satisfaction levels of the learners (Eynde, van den, Newcombe, and Steel, 2007).

Second, there are more aspects of flexible learning. Based on the lecture, readings, and personal understanding, I list and describe some kinds of flexible learning by reflecting them on my own five W’s and one H. Also, I give some examples of web-based technology or application that supports flexibility.

1. When – Flexibility in TIME
This flexibility offers a choice to do learning activities in learners’ convenient time. They may have their learning schedule manageable and get the desirable knowledge.
This flexibility can be supported by:
- Database sites (e-journal) --> Picarta, Scopus, Web of Science, ERIC, UT Catalogue
- Blackboard --> https://blackboard.utwente.nl
- Blogs --> http://www.blogger.comhttp://wordpress.com/
- QR-codes  --> http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ (generator)

2. What – Flexibility in CONTENT of learning materials and assessment
Collis & Moonen (2001) explained that this flexibility allows the learners to choose whether they wish the teacher or instructor to specify the content, content sequencing, content approach (theoretical or practical), and whether they prefer making their own choices, entirely or partially. And also, this flexibility provides the learners a wider choice of learning resources.
This flexibility can be supported by:
- Search engine --> internet explorer, http://www.google.nl/
- Database sites (e-journal) --> Picarta, Scopus, Web of Science, ERIC, UT Catalogue
- Blackboard --> https://blackboard.utwente.nl
- Blogs --> http://www.blogger.comhttp://wordpress.com/
- QR-codes  --> http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ (generator)

3. Where – Flexibility in LOCATION
Many learning activities can be also executed from any location outside of regular classroom or campus building. The learners may study at home without leaving their home activities. And also, for some employee distance learning is the best option because they can stay on their desks and do not have to travel if they have to attend a course.
This flexibility can be supported by:
- Database sites (e-journal)  --> Picarta, Scopus, Web of Science, ERIC, UT Catalogue
- Chat media --> MSN, Skype, Yahoo Messenger!, Google Talk
- Voice call --> Skype, Yahoo Messenger!, Google Talk
- Video call --> Skype, Yahoo Messenger!, Google Talk

4. With – Flexibility in TOOLS (technology)
Nowadays, technology is always referring to electrical advanced tools. If it is said so, then we do not have flexibility in this area. In my opinion, learners should be able to take advantages of any tools around them to support their learning activities.
I may gladly list many tools; both electrical and non-electrical tools that are supporting this flexibility. However, at this time, let me list only the web-based technology which is surely electrical.
- Internet connection
- PC
- Laptop
- IPad
- Smartphone
- QR codes

5. Who – Flexibility in LEARNERS’ prior knowledge
It is said “Education for all”. But, learners’ prior knowledge varies and some entry requirements are provided to ensure learners in the same prior knowledge level. In my opinion, it is only necessary for the higher education, not for basic (primary) education (K-12 grade). In primary education, this area should be flexible then the idea of “Education for all” can be reached.
For adult learning some flexibility can also be applied. For instance, the differences of learners’ prior knowledge in a language course may be handled well by using appropriate materials.
For the case above the flexibility can be supported by:
- Online dictionary --> http://oxforddictionaries.com/http://www.ldoceonline.com/
- online-translator --> http://translate.google.com/
- Audio web-translator --> http://translate.google.com/

6. How – Flexibility in METHODS (pedagogy)
For some, pedagogy is defined as “the art and science of teaching”. This term was used by Collis & Moonen (2001) to indicate the manner in which learning activities and environment is organised and implemented by the instructor in a course. There are many pedagogical approaches that can be used in a course with an individual responsible instructor.
The way of teaching in higher education is definitely different with the lower education. But, the idea of flexibility in methods, in my opinion, still remains the same. It is about allowing the learners to ‘enjoy’ the learning activities in regard to differences of their personal learning preferences.
Some example of technologies that support this flexibility:
- Video --> YouTube
- Wiki (for group project)
- Blog (for individual project)
- Emails (for giving or/and submitting assignment)
- Blackboard (for giving or/and submitting assignment)
- Online assessment (assessment application, voice or video call )

From the list above, it is revealed that many possibilities from web-based technology can be implemented to support the flexibility in learning. On the other hand, the implementation of flexible learning also brings many problems and challenges along (Collis & Moonen, 2001). Indeed, there is no flexibility option is simple to carry out in practice. The problems and challenges may emerge due to the complex context of flexible learning and also the gap between micro level and policy level.
However, the new direction has emerged by the flexible learning. It is promising not only for pedagogical research. But, it has benefited the current learning options available for students by utilizing new and emerging technologies (van den Eynde, Newcombe, & Steel, 2007).

That is my first discovery! :)


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

Dorrian, J., & Wache, D. (2009). Introduction of an online approach to flexible learning for on-campus and distance education students: Lessons learned and ways forward. Nurse Education Today, 29, 157–167.

van den Eynde, J., Newcombe, P. A., & Steel, C. H. (2007). Responding to learners’ need for choice: Exploring flexible learning modes with a view to creating an e-learning community In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/vandeneynde.pdf

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why APOCALYPTO? (About this blog)

When the word "Apocalypto" appears, I bet most of you will refer to a 2006 American epic action-adventure movie directed by Mel Gibson. It is true, but that is not the intention of this blog. Apocalypto is a Greek word. Regardless of the debate among many people, apocalypto (ἀποκαλύπτω) literally means 'to reveal'. For me, it conveys my interest to discover many things in this course. This blog is my starting point to reveal!

Nowadays, technology is changed and improved rapidly. We cannot ignore nor do nothing about it. Many instructors and institution adopt technology into their instructional activities to enhance the learning environment. But, there is always a missing link if it is done without any framework. In this case, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework to understand and explain the knowledge needed, especially by the teachers. TPACK will lead to effective pedagogical practice in a learning environment enhanced by technology.

My specific interest in this course is about new flexible learning possibilities when new pedagogies and technology are involved. Therefore, based on that interest, there are three areas which I really want to discover individually and also in the group works: pedagogies, flexible learning, and technology.

This is just the beginning, time to reveal! J