USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES This is a post print copy of the following article: Sobel, K. and Grotti, M. G. (2013). Using the TPACK framework to facilitate decision making on instructional technologies. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 25 (4), 255 262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1941126X.2013.847671 Using the TPACK Framework to Facilitate Decision Making on Instructional Technologies Karen Sobel University of Colorado Denver Margaret G. Grotti University of Delaware
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES sounds complex, TPACK provides a straightforward and practical framework for evaluating and successfully implementing workplace technologies. It focuses on defining real workplace needs and determining wh ether the total costs ( e.g. time, money, etc. ) associated with a technology are worth the need that the technology is intended to address. At present, TPACK is primarily used in the field of education though it has occasionally been applied to various li brary settings The authors have worked to adapt its methods to the field of academic library instruction, which proved an easy and effective conversion. After academic librarians in other specialty areas began expressing interest in discovering how the TP ACK framework could assist in their technology related decisions, the authors worked to shape discussion and examples that could assist a broader audience. This article is the result of those efforts. In the following pages, the authors will present reas ons for using TPACK, provide a history of the method, explain the method in detail, and then share detailed examples. In order to better illustrate the step by step use of this theoretical model, we first will examine the rationale behind the use of TPACK and why it can be helpful. Confronting Familiar Challenges One way or another, all librarians have encountered this scenario: T the job. A colleague or an administrator mentions a piece of technology that may or may not provide a solution, and asks the librarian to evaluate whether the library ically, there are only a couple of weeks left in budget cycle. How can the librarian make a quick yet informed decision?
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES Alternatively, a librarian attend s a conference and hears about a technology that might just do the trick. A colleague at another institution provides an honest, detailed assessment, and the librarian decides to give the technology a try. T he budget however, is tight, and there will be many other competing requests for funding. How can he or she best craft a request that will a particular patron base? TPACK can provide an effective solution to these questions. TPACK guides librarians to directly address many common categories of challenge in formulating request s including suitability for future librarians, efficiency, financial costs, inv estment of staff time, and training needs. The TPACK model is most suitable for technologies that will directly affect large numbers of individuals be they patrons or staff. It also accounts for the reality pidly, and that new solutions appear frequently. The model a lso can accommodate the fact that many librarians not only select technologies but provide some or all of the training for them. Literature Review Literature about the TPACK method spans many dis ciplines and media. This literature review is not intended to provide a comprehensive guide to commentary on the method, but rather to give a representative sampling and a few key pieces. The most important single piece to read for those interested in TPAC www.tpack.org Koehler, subject across many fields. For those interested in an overview of TPACK in textual form, Koehler and Punya
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES A History of TPACK TPACK is based upon Pedago of knowledge (pedag ogical and content knowledge) could deepen understanding of how subjects could be organized and effectively taught. Koehler and Mishra unveiled TPACK, an expanded version of framework (2006). TPACK represents an evolution of this framework, as it proposes that an additional sphere of knowledge (technological knowledge) must also be taken into account for effective teaching and learning. Koehler is now the primary force in the dge: A Framework & Koehler 2006) is the article that established TPACK as a unique framework in its own right and is highly recommended for those seeking a thorough knowledge of the framework TPACK in Libraries An increas ing number of librarians are experimenting with TPACK in libraries. K 12 school libraries were among the earliest adopters, likely due to the close working relationships that school librarians develop with teachers who were already using the method in trad itional using TPACK in school libraries. Many of her examples will strike academic librarians as familiar. For example, she uses TPACK to evaluate potential educational usage of blogs, wikis and video conferencing. Smith also provides excellent commentary on potential technologies and organizational culture. Banas discusses the the academic libraries (2010). Linton returns to the K 12 library in her discussion of TPACK in
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES learning commons planning (2012). Linton discusses modes of collaborative inquiry and communication between librarians and teachers. Considering the importance of learning commons design in academic librari es, many academic librarians may find the principles detailed in this article to be of particular interest. TPACK in Other Educational Settings Bull, Hammond, and Ferster discuss TPACK in the context of choosing online tools in the field of social studies (2008). Their use of the model highlights a challenge that academic librarians face daily: a wealth of tools online and the difficulty of sifting out the best for use in the who are developing their initial prefe rences regarding classroom technologies. His ideas translate well for academic librarians who guide master of library science candidates or other new librarians. Hechter gives another preservice scenario in the context of science educati on (2012). He notes t hat many new science teachers have been trained to think of the three components of TPACK (technology, content, and pedagogy) separately; learning to combine the parts will greatly enhance their teaching skills. Banister and Reinhart examine TPACK in th e context of the digital divide among middle school students (2011). As the digital divide affects students at many institutions of higher education in addition to those in K methods and findings will apply directly to the work of many academic librarians. Stages of TPACK
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES TPACK is comprised of three initial stages and its concluding, summative stage. These s ee www.tpack.org for greater detail) Figur e 1 diagrams the interaction of these stages. Learning to deploy them effectively helps librarians create strong arguments in favor of their technological decisions. The stages are strikingly simple, and the first three can be completed in any order the li brarian prefers. For the purposes of this article, the authors will put the stages in their preferred standard order. Stage A: Content Knowledge In this stage, the librarian identifies content that must be directly and effectively conveyed to the intende d audience using the technology. What will the audience learn or collect from this technology? While this stage seems simplistic, keeping this core content in mind helps the TPACK librarian focus on tasks that will need to be accomplished successfully usi ng this technology. In subsequent stages, it will also aid the librarian in identifying the technology training that will need to be accomplished. Stage B: Technology Knowledge This stage asks what the librarian will need to do to set up, activate, and us e this technology effectively. Librarians investigating the technology at issue should work with colleagues wh o will have to perform the configuration, activation, and so on in order to gather realistic and detailed information. The librarian should think broadly about the various stages at which understanding and skill in the technology will be needed, and who will need to complete the tasks associated with these stages. Most projects will have both back end and user end technological requirements. A web librarian, programmer, or other IT staff may be expected to
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES perform the back end work, while the librarian often performs significant work in setting up the patron side. The ultimate goals of this stage are to clearly spell out the effort and the expertis e that will be needed in order to implement a technology and for patrons to use it effectively. The librarian may well decide that for the small, niche benefi t that a technological resource g usability testing. Or usability testing with patrons may reveal that patrons do not find the technology to be an efficient way to complete the tasks for which it is being implemented. T his investigation however, may reveal that it may very well be worth taking the leap. Stage C: Pedagogical Knowledge Often the librarian expects to perform a significant amount of work in terms of training others to use th is technology. Thus he or she will likely be the best assessor for this stage. The librarian should plan by listing the groups that will need to be taught to use this technology, then the skills that will need to be taught to each group. Quite often, ther e will be multiple groups (such as fellow librarians and students) who will learn to perform very different tasks with the technology. It is important to consider what the learning differences between these groups may be and how to best address the needs of different learners. After making these lists, the librarian should consider if the patrons will need to learn any additional skills in order to work up to this point. Frequently when librarians teach a cutting edge piece of technology, they need to giv e at least some users the background knowledge needed to perform tasks with the technology. Concluding S tage
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES The most central aspect of TPACK is the interplay between technology, pedagogy, and content, which emerges in the concluding stage of the analysis. After assessing content, technological, and pedagogical needs, the librarian will form a holistic picture of whether or not this technology seems appropriate given time constraints, the specific environment of the workplace, and the needs of the local li brary patrons. This often involves a strong degree of After deciding on the intended outcome of the TPACK process, the librarian should write up the gathered arguments and data that he or she has gathered, a nd state the conclusion. In some settings it could be appropriate to spell out the decision using the four stages of TPACK directly. In others, the librarian might decide to mine the information from TPACK and make an argument in another format. Either way the librarian will have compiled a great deal of evidence coming from a variety of angles. This can help to launch a conversation that is inclusive, well rounded, and which keeps the needs of the various stakeholders at the forefront of the discussion. [INSERT FIGURE 1.] TPACK in Use As with many new concepts, seeing TPACK in use m ay aid understanding In this section, the authors present two hypothetical scenarios featuring TPACK. In the first, the librarian chooses to use the chosen technology in the classroom. In the other, TPACK leads the librarian to the conclusion that the technology is not a practical choice given workplace constraints. These examples center on instruction related technologies and the classroom. However, the authors have chosen fa miliar pieces in hopes that readers who work in a variety of specialty areas will relate. Scenario 1: Google Docs and Search Strategies
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES Teaching first year college students to perform effective searches in library databases is a major part of instruction l when they learn to select a database, plan a search, refine the search, and keep track of search strategies early in their college careers. Using simple technological tools to guide them such as a Google Doc spreadsheet for recording their strategies, is a possible method for that task. In this situation, the instructor is considering sharing a Google Docs spreadsheet with all students in an English composition class for first year coll ege students. Students all sign into a single Google Doc spreadsheet that the librarian has created. As they work, they fill in specific details of their search strategy resources they have used, search terms that have or have not worked well, notes on w hat to try in the future, and so forth. The librarian leaves the spreadsheet students are running into, in real time. Colleagues at other institutions have given her mixed reviews of similar strategies, but she has heard enough positive feedback to be interested. She decides to use TPACK to make her final choice a few days prior to class. Content Knowledge. The students will be performing research in preparation t o write a speech on a controversial topic. The instructor has worked with these assignments numerous times in the past, and knows that she will want to teach the students to use a multisubject database such as Academic Search Premier, plus a database that focuses on controversial issues, students, and the skills she will teach the students to use in their research. Content in this case does not refer to the text of materials that will be used. Technology Knowledge Now the instructor focuses on the nuances of Google Docs. Which features will she need to teach the students to use? Will most students already have
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES enough general knowledge of computers to adapt to this program quickly? If not, what will she need to do to get them up to that point? The instructor also considers what she will need to do in order to make sure the technology will work in her particular classroom setting. Will she need to ask IT to add any software to the computers in the instruction room? Will she need to ask students to set up a Google account ahead of time? Pedagogical Knowledge The instructor thinks about what she will need to teach students to do, and why this effort is or is not worthwhile. First and most importantly, she will focus on teaching the students the research skills they will need in order to complete the research for the assignment. Her ultimate goal with the session is to enable them to be self sufficient by the end of class. Her secondary goal is to teach the students a few basic skills related to using Google Docs spreadsheets, which may very well be useful to them in the future. After considering each of these pieces separately, she works to make a lesson plan that will weave together the research skills and the Google Docs skills smoothly. Conclusion The librarian decides that she can use the first 10 minutes of the 75 minute class to teach the students the skills they will need for using Google Docs. She can the n focus on the research content for the remainder of class, likely with little technological troubleshooting. review when she has more time later will benef it these students and all the classes she will have in the future. She does indeed choose to use Google Docs in class. After using Google Docs in class a few times, the librarian decides that she would like to share this technique with her department at a staff meeting. She uses TPACK to format the discussion that she plans to lead.
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES Scenario 2: Clickers in th e Library Instruction Classroom remote control with several b uttons, clickers allow professors to ask multiple choice questions to the class and gather feedback from students immediately. Some institutions or departments require students to purchase a clicker; in these cases, clicker responses can be connected with an individual student and thus used for grading or to take attendance. Many academic libraries have purchased sets of clickers in order to monitor comprehension and increase student engagement during library instruction. Clickers can be used, for example to ask students to find specific pieces of information using library resources, and then to answer multiple choice questions based on their findings. Although clickers can be an ideal teaching technology, they are still worth critically examining to det ermine if they will truly expand student learning in library instruction classes given the unique environment of a specific institution. In this scenario, an instruction librarian works to decide whether to use clickers to monitor comprehension throughou t library instruction to students in an English composition course. She considers pros and cons from the four stages of TPACK in order to inform her choice. Content Knowledge This stage is simple and manageable. The librarian considers the learning outcomes of the class and crafts task based multiple choice questions to scatter throughout her lesson which will test student mastery of these outcomes. Since the content of a basic composition course is already familiar to her, writing the questions con stitutes her main task for now.
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES Technology Knowledge. Through discussions with faculty in other departments, the librarian knows that her institution does not require students to purchase their own clickers. Thus the library would need to obtain enough c lickers for all the students in a class. She prices out a set and finds that the cost is not prohibitive, but it is enough to merit thoughtful consideration before spending. Now the librarian thinks about the technological knowledge that she and her colleagues will need in order to use clickers successfully in the classroom. She will need to teach approximately 14 colleagues who perform instruction at her library to set up the clickers and perform troubleshooting. Most significantly, she will need to teach the students to use the clickers at the beginning of each class. While clickers are easy to learn and to use, a brief explanation will be necessary and will cut into the amo unt of time that can be spent on other activities. Pedagogical Knowledge The librarian considers teaching techniques she will use with the clickers. Ultimately, she feels that they are best suited for comprehension checking using simple polls and multip le choice questions. She feels concerned that by using a lesson based on clickers and multiple choice questions alone, she may not address other learning styles as smoothly as she usually does. For example, this approach may place undue emphasis upon mem orization of details rather than holistic and critical thinking about the search process. It may also take time away from valuable activities such as student led discussion and group work. In the process of finding out more, the librarian investigates th e perceived benefits of using clickers in the classroom. While the potential for formative assessment impresses her, she realizes that she will not profit from other commonly stated benefits such as the ability to take attendance or to administer and insta ntly grade quiz questions. Clickers can improve student
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES engagement, but they are known for doing so particularly well in large lecture classes in which students cannot benefit from individual attention from the instructor. Conclusion The librarian in this scenario feels that the segments of TPACK are not in learning and may detract from the current instruction model which stresses different kinds of activitie s in order to check comprehension. She also worries that her colleagues will find this technology cumbersome and time consuming. In addition, she has considered the benefit of y other tools for doing so in a small class scenario. While clickers may be an ideal solution for many library instruction programs, in this case, the librarian does not choose to recommend clickers for purchase or use. Further Work Recent studies, primar ily in the field of education, have performed quantitative analysis related decisions similar to those encountered in the library instruction classroom. Other studies have performed detaile d analysis and mapping of decision making processes used by teachers who have been trained in TPACK. As TPACK is quickly catching on in the field of library science, a more thorough study of how TPACK is being applied in this field is warranted. The author s hope that colleagues in academic and other libraries will take up this task. Conclusion The TPACK method guides informed decision making regarding tech nologies for library use. A thoughtful documentation of technology related decision making facilitated by TPACK can provide librarians with support for their decisions and discussions with stakeholders. It is
USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES also a deeply useful tool for evaluating technologies given the benefits and constraints of real workplaces. The authors hope that it will help read ers effect real change in their libraries and in their working lives.
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USING THE TPACK FRAME WORK TO FACILITATE DECISION MAKING ON INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES Figure 1: The stages of TPACK. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, 2012 tpack.org