AS an educator, I have always been a great believer in John Dewey’s famous quote: If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow.
So it is our duty to teach our students in such a way that we prepare them for a better tomorrow.
Our students have already beaten us when it comes to technology.
My teenage son has taught me loads about technology and is still my biggest and quickest source of information when it comes to technology; what’s new, what works best, installation, and all about the social media out there. Now, we teachers need to catch up with our students on technology.
It is crucial to acknowledge the importance of technology integration in classrooms these days. Let’s look at the benefits of technology integration in the classroom, the technological content knowledge teachers should have, and most importantly the implication for teachers.
Technology integration in the classroom brings about a more student-centred approach. When teachers use technology in the classroom, their approaches seem to be more student-centred.
Students tend to work together more while using technology; for example, to search the web and create multimedia presentations.
Hypermedia and hypertext increase their understanding. Hypermedia environments are dynamic and interactive and create a non-linear collection of information.
Let us look at the case of learning English as an example.
With the use of technology in the teaching and learning of English, students get motivated when they have a greater sense of control and access to reading.
The use of technology can also help in writing as there is the word-processing programme.
Students can now focus more on idea generation and organisation, rather than on mechanics.
They can write longer samples, have greater variety in word usage and sentence structure, spell correctly, make more substantial revisions, and have more positive attitudes toward writing.
Read better, think better
When teachers integrate technology in the classroom, students’ reading skills are enhanced; all thanks to electronic/talking books which use hypermedia text that link to word pronunciations and definitions.
Students develop a sense of story structure, build vocabulary, increase word knowledge, improve comprehension and move quickly toward independent reading.
In addition, using the Internet as a resource can also help to enhance students’ problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills as well.
Students can search the Internet, evaluate what they find, and then apply it to the solution of a problem. Their critical thinking improves as they learn.
So, what is the technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) that teachers need to have in order to integrate technology in their classrooms to enhance learning?
Research by educationists around the globe has brought about what is mentioned above as TPCK, and what is now called the TPACK Model.
The TPCK framework is a complex integration of three bodies of knowledge: The Content, The Pedagogy or teaching method, and The Technology.
Content knowledge – This is knowledge about the actual subject matter and content that is to be learned or taught. Clearly, teachers must be experts and have a clear understanding of the facts, concepts, theories and procedures pertaining to the subjects they teach.
Pedagogical knowledge – Teachers must have deep knowledge about the processes and methods of teaching and learning. This involves overall classroom management, lesson plan implementation and student evaluation to ensure learning has taken place.
Pedagogical content knowledge – Teachers must not only have knowledge of the different teaching strategies available, but must also be able to pick the best teaching strategy for a specific content.
Technology knowledge – This is knowledge of the different technologies that can be used, from the standard chalk and board to more advanced technologies, such as the World Wide Web. It involves the flexibility to adapt to available technologies and the skills to operate them.
Technological content knowledge – Teachers should have knowledge of the different technologies that can be used in the classroom, as well as knowledge of their effects on the content to be taught.
Technological pedagogical knowledge – This is about matching the right technology with the teaching method. It is important to ensure that the choice of technology fits in with the teaching method to bring about maximum learning experience for students.
Technological pedagogical content knowledge – This involves the proper combination of content, pedagogy, and technology knowledge, including the skill of teaching with technology. It is the knowledge of how, when, and why to use technology.
The bottom line
There is a need to be creative and intelligent in the application of technology to enhance learning.
We teachers must realise that classroom instruction is most effective when teaching and technology go hand in hand.
Teachers need to have a deep, flexible and distinct understanding of teaching with technology. They need to be trained to rethink, unlearn and re-learn.
It is important to be able to flexibly navigate between content, pedagogy, and technology and the interactions among them.
Teachers will not and cannot be merely told what to do. Teachers practise an art. Moments of choice of what to do, how to do it, with whom and at what pace, arise hundreds of times a school day, and arise differently every day and with every group of students. (Joseph Schwab, 1983, p. 245)
It would be unfair to “rob our children of tomorrow.” This would drastically go against the teaching mission.
Teachers should not be afraid to ask for help when they need it, keeping in mind that there is no single technological solution that applies for every teacher or every subject taught.
However, practice makes the job easier. Passion also helps a lot. Teachers should be passionate about technology without losing sight of their real objective: integrate technology that effectively guides students in greater learning.
> The writer is a senior lecturer at the School of Educational Studies in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Her main interest in research is in the area of ICT in Education and the use of Peer Coaching in technology integration in teaching and learning. Her most recent achievement is a Gold Medal in the Malaysian Technology Expo 2011 for creating a courseware using the SmartBoard. She is currently working on the development of an Interactive Teaching and Learning Lab in USM.
By DR TERMIT KAUR RANJIT SINGH Source: The STAR Online Home News Education Sunday August 5, 2012