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Advice on how to lead change

Professional learning – the TPaCK model

A core message from all the leaders who have shared their expertise on this topic is that professional learning is key, and ensuring that teachers have the time and access to resources to help them learn is essential. As with all learning, teachers who undertake professional learning around the Digital Technologies curriculum need to know ‘where they are at’ in their understanding in order to develop. The TPaCK model is an excellent reflection tool that allows teachers to understand that their professional learning in terms of the Digital Technologies curriculum may need to fall into three areas: technology, pedagogy and content knowledge.

See this video for an explanation of the model and how it can be used as teacher self-reflection.

Once your teachers have reflected on the professional learning they need, it is up to you to support them in accessing resources: professional learning activities, online support and coaching. The next section on accessing resources will be broken down into technology, pedagogy and content knowledge.

There are many providers of professional learning around the Digital Technologies curriculum, but if you are interested in looking more broadly at some of the most innovative approaches to professional learning, then the Professional Growth section of the AITSL website has some invaluable resources.

Accessing resources

Developing coaches who are confident in all three domains of technology, pedagogy and content knowledge for the Digital Technologies curriculum can be a very powerful form of professional learning. The question is, do we need to get all members of our school community skilled up in technology to the same level? Do we want professional learning to be ‘just in case’ or ‘just in time’?

The obvious answer to this is that we want a blend of both. Learning a new technology because it will enhance learning for our students next week is invaluable, and while learning ‘just in time’ can seem messy and unstructured, we must accept that sometimes learning is messy, is non-linear and does not always follow a curriculum! Having said that, there is some core learning that the whole school community will need to understand. Sometimes, learning something ‘just in case’ (like computational thinking) allows us to see our learning through a different lens.

Neil Carmona-Vickery, Leading Teacher: Information Systems, Technology at John Monash Science School, has designed a self-assessment professional learning ‘passport’ for all staff. In this passport, the school has identified key areas of professional learning relating, in particular, to technology and pedagogy that all staff must be confident with. They also suggest optional areas for further professional learning. This approach ensures consistency where necessary and a flexible, personalised approach to learning that models the kind of student learning visible at John Monash Science School.

Beyond the professional learning provided by your school and other learning organisations, encouraging your teachers to develop their professional learning networks through social tools like Twitter and Google+ communities, and face-to-face unconference-style learning like Teachmeets will have a hugely positive impact on their learning. These networks model an open style of professional learning as promoted by David Price in his book OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future

Informal opportunities to gain wisdom and practice new skills have mushroomed exponentially, and this alters not just how we see knowledge, but how we see the power relationships behind that knowledge. The hierarchy between teacher and students is being transformed through open learning – from vertically downward (expert to novice) to horizontally networked (participant as expert and learner).
– David Price

While Price is referring to student learning, the sentiment is equally valid when looking at professional learning. 
The following sections give some samples of the types of resources that your teaching staff who will be integrating the Digital Technologies curriculum can access under the TPaCK model.

This massive open online course (MOOC) into Educational Technology from MIT is a useful deep-dive into understanding the nexus of technology and learning in schools. Although the course is now over, all of the self-paced learning resources are still freely available.

If you wish to keep up to date with technology in an education setting, Shelly Sanchez Terrell has curated a list of hashtags to search for on social media.

There are many different technologies and technology platforms recommended in the Digital Technologies Hub to help you get started. As with any new learning about technology, start online, do a keyword search for the technology you are interested in, look for tutorials on YouTube and ask for help on social media.

Pedagogy

The Digital Technologies Hub contains detailed advice and a specific example of a pedagogical approach in the Effective teaching sections in Primary and Secondary.

As a general rule, when looking at pedagogical approaches for integrating the Digital Technologies curriculum, we suggest that learning happens best when:

  • the learner knows what they are learning – even if that means they only know they are learning through discovery
  • the learner knows why they are learning – knowing why is a powerful form of engagement
  • the learner knows how they are learning – there is an explicit understanding of learning skills and tools
  • the learner knows how well they are learning – the feedback/feedforward loop drives progress in learning.

Using this approach, we can develop a framework of learning using a common language to describe pedagogical approaches that we can use to promote different styles of learning in the context of the Digital Technologies Hub.

Content knowledge

In terms of developing content knowledge around the Digital Technologies curriculum, there are a plethora of resources that learning designers can access to develop their understanding:

  • CS-First – a course aimed at developing block-based coding skills in learners (and teachers) which uses video tutorials and Scratch
  • Scratch – a free online coding tool with projects and an area for educators
  • CSER Digital Technologies Online Courses – The Computer Science Education Research Group provides online courses on implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum
  • PL-in-a-Box supports professional learning (PL) of Digital Technologies in your school or community. These resources are designed to support you or your team in delivering free professional learning sessions, workshops or events for Digital Technologies.
  • Scootle – Provides resources and ideas specifically around the Digital Technologies curriculum