How NGL Can Inform My Role as a Teacher

In my current role as Learning Systems Project Manager, I don’t do a lot of formal training. However, I am involved in the implementation of new technologies which includes the planning and execution of training plans for academic staff (and other stakeholders. NGL can inform my role as a trainer through the implementation of networked learning strategies and activities to promote interactions within newly formed communities of practice.

In my time as a trainer within a university, I have noticed the steady decline of participants attending planned workshops and demonstrations. Attempts to counter this trend included offering video tutorials, webinars, and 1-2-1 sessions. While all of these things increased numbers slightly, this was a change to the method of delivery only, rather than an enhancement in the pedagogical design of the workshops. In essence, this achieved the ‘R’ in the RAT framework ( Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation) and nothing more.


Figure 1: Technology Integration: The RAT – Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation – Framework. From http://techedges.org/r-a-t-model/

As Hughes, Thomas, and Scharber (2006) explain it, the “R” in RAT is when the inclusion of technology serves to ‘replace and, in no way change established instructional practices, student learning processes, or content goals.’ In the example I mentioned above, the change was made primarily to allow teachers to access the training in their own time from anywhere. In hindsight, there may have been additional implications to the move from face-to-face to online delivery for which we did not account. The TPACK framework highlights the need to address the pedagogical, content, and technological knowledge when presenting teachers with new technology to incorporate into their existing practices. In fact, Koehler and Mishra (2009) stress the importance of the knowledge intersections.

tpack

Figure 2: The TPACK framework and its knowledge components. From Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)?. Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education, 9(1), 63.

The TPACK framework appears to have some parallels to Siemen’s connectivist theory (Siemens, 2008), in that learning occurs through the connections between the nodes of a network rather than the individual nodes. Therefore, to amplify or transform the learning experience, I need to start looking at how I can encourage exploration between the pedagogical, content, and technological networks within the institution.

The first steps I have taken towards this goal is a structural change in the APAC Blackboard Collaborate Users Group that I chair. There have been two issues with this group in the past:

  1. The lack of contributions – this has primarily been the result of less than adequate structure or motivation in the group and lack of time and resources to maintain it.
  2. The lack of diversity in the membership – the group primarily consists of IT support staff and instructional designers. There are few ACTUAL users.

One of the weaknesses to connectivist learning identified by Anderson and Dron (2011) is the need to have strong network leaders with a broad range of connections to maintain ongoing activity. For my part, I have a considerable number of IT contacts, but the diversity of my contacts is limited. In addition, the time I have set aside to manage the group has been all but none. Taking first steps to overcome the issues above, I have invited two other members to join me as leaders of the group. The first is a pedagogical expert (an instructional designer) and the second is a content specialist (a TESOL educator). Between the three of us, I am hoping we will be able to strengthen the leadership of the group and also to be able to come up with some strategies to have the community working between the nodes.

The leadership or teaching presence mentioned above is one of three essential requirements of a community of inquiry (Garrison, Anderson, Archer, 2000). The other two factors are the social presence and cognitive presence. The authors explain social presence as the ability for members of a community to express a unique identity that can be understood as a “real” person. Garrison and Arbaugh (2007) indicate that shared goals and collaborative activities build the social presence. Cognitive presence requires such collaborative activities to be explorational, debatable and communicable. Members also need the opportunity to reflect. In developing some activities that cultivate presence, we may be able to achieve greater participation. Below is a great video about participation culture with a great reference to networks. While the focus is towards industry, it does have some good lessons to consider in the design of participatory learning.

There are some design considerations that I need to be aware of when I begin to look at re-developing my training strategies. Firstly, in a study conducted by Kimmons, Miller, Amador, Desjardins, and Hall (2015) the perceived level of competence in integrating technologies into teaching often out wayed the actual capability. This result indicates that the while the teachers may have a good understanding of the technology and the pedagogy as separate knowledge nodes, when combined they have difficulty grasping how the technology might change the instruction. The authors also noted in the paper that the choice of technologies and tasks are relevant to the outcome of the learning experience. These results highlight the importance of TPACK. As I see it, Kimmons et al. identified the development of technological pedagogical knowledge and the technological content knowledge as a weakness in their training design. An earlier study by Gao, Tan, Wang, Wong, and Choy (2011) reported a method that overcame the first of these weaknesses. They utilised compulsory situated practice and critical reflection to further engage the students in the training experience.

All in all, I think that my involvement in NGL as a student and learner has helped me see how I might be able to amplify or perhaps even transform my current training strategies to better engage the teachers in learning about new technologies. With the Blackboard Collaborate Users Group as my first experiment with some of what I have learned, I’m hoping I can work towards expanding that to some of my responsibilities as a project manager.

References

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(3), 80-97.

Gao, P., Tan, S. C., Wang, L., Wong, A. F., & Choy, D. (2011). Self reflection and preservice teachers’ technological pedagogical knowledge: Promoting earlier adoption of student-centred pedagogies. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(6).

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The
Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87−105.

Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172.

Hughes, J., Thomas, R., & Scharber, C. (2006, March). Assessing technology integration: the RAT–replacement, amplification, and transformation-framework. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1616-1620). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Kimmons, R., Miller, B. G., Amador, J., Desjardins, C. D., & Hall, C. (2015). Technology integration coursework and finding meaning in pre-service teachers’ reflective practice. Educational Technology Research and Development, 63(6), 809-829.

Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)?. Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education, 9(1), 60-70.

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. elearnspace.org. Retrieved from http://elearnspace.org/Articles/systemic_impact.htm

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