Monday, July 18, 2016

TPACK to LoTi: Moving from Theory to Practice

After reading an article from the Journal of Research on Technology in Education entitled, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): The Development and Validation of an Assessment Instrument for Preservice Teachers, by Schmidt, Baran, Thompson, Mishra, Koehler, and Shin (2009), I discovered similarities between the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Framework and the Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTi) Framework. Both research-based frameworks serve as a lens to explain technology integration —TPACK from a theoretical perspective and LoTi from a more quantifiable perspective.

TPACK represents the integration of Technology Knowledge advanced by Schmidt et al. (2009) to the Pedagogical Content Knowledge paradigm conceptualized by Shulman (1986). The original LoTi Framework is also a byproduct of two other conceptual frameworks: Current Instructional Practices (Pedagogy) and Personal Computer Use (Technology) that attempt to define technology integration as the ongoing interplay between Pedagogy and Technology.

Recently, a colleague of mine asked me to explain how TPACK related to LoTi or vice versa. From my perspective, the LoTi Framework puts into practice the TPACK Model by generating and reporting individual and aggregate teacher results at specific levels consistent with the TPACK components either through classroom walkthroughs or an online self-assessment. In other words, teachers can use the LoTi Framework to track their growth with the TPACK components as they progressively move to higher LoTi levels.

Looking at the big picture, both frameworks, TPACK and LoTi, have their place in educational research—TPACK with advancing our understanding of the complex interactions among content, pedagogy, and technology; LoTi with identifying variables (e.g., digital infrastructures, school climate) that directly impact the level of technology integration in the classroom.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

ESL Support Pillars

To what extent are we positioning ESL (English as a Second Language) students to become college and career ready? According to the Alliance for Effective Schools, “About 63 percent of the 46.8 million job openings created by 2018 will require workers with at least some college education....”

Traditional approaches to pedagogy often leave the ESL student population underserved in preparation of post-secondary pursuits. Why? ESL programs sometimes focus more on language acquisition at the expense of providing rigorous and challenging learning experiences. The result is clearly seen in achievement gaps across the country. English Language Learner (ELL) sub-group populations frequently score lower than non-ELL populations in English language-intensive subjects such as reading, writing, and science, and to a lesser extent in math where language has less impact on test item computation.

The solution? Providing greater development and support for targeted areas impacting ESL teaching and learning. We use the term, ESL Support Pillars, to represent three key areas: Student Achievement, Student H.E.A.T. (Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections, Technology use) and Teacher Innovation. Keeping a pulse on these three interdependent components with the same level of concern for language acquisition can help close the achievement gap.

Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 ISTE Conference Addendum

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough and humbled to present to an overflowing crowd at the ISTE 2016 Conference in Denver. My ISTE session topic entitled, Finding the Missing Links to Effective Technology Use in Schools, highlighted the current status of digital learning nationally as well as a regression analysis involving 24 campus’ student achievement gains compared with their Level of Teaching Innovation (LoTi) in the classroom.

During my session, I also shared the results of our Spring 2016 pilot of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the LoTi Digital Age Survey. Based on a sample of approximately 1,400 classroom teachers in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Maryland, we found moderate correlations between LoTi and frequency of technology use for both students (r = 0.56) and teachers (r = 0.43) along with a moderate correlation between LoTi and teacher’s perceptions about their communication and feedback cycle with building administrators (r = 0.47). We even found one strong correlation between LoTi and teacher’s perceptions about their shared vision for digital learning (r = 0.62).

One area where I fell short due to time constraints was actually discussing concrete steps that schools can take to elevate the LoTi based on the aggregate data collected on their campuses. For example, what if a strong positive correlation exists between the use of the Flipped Classroom blended learning model and LoTi at a particular school? Possible interventions might range from peer coaching that promotes rigorous and challenging performance assessments to in-class modeling of grade level appropriate S.T.E.A.M. activities.

Conversely, what if a strong negative correlation exists between the frequency of administrator feedback and LoTi? Think about it for a minute. If a building leadership team is constantly emphasizing to staff members the importance of preparing students for high-stakes testing, there is the distinct possibility that teacher/leader conversations will have little to do with digital learning aside from the use of mobile apps and laptops for low-level skill development and review. How could this trend be reversed? By implementing any one of the following interventions: research sharing with administrators showcasing the connection between achievement and LoTi levels, modeling LoTi 3+ lessons emphasizing higher levels of cognitive complexity tied to the content embedded in state assessments, and/or using Digital Age Best Practices as the cornerstone for informal classroom walkthrough conversations.

Analyzing data in isolation has little value to stakeholders. Finding moderate to strong correlations among campus variables (e.g., school climate, digital infrastructure) that directly or indirectly impact digital learning (i.e., LoTi) and assigning practical interventions to promote their positive impact on student achievement and digital learning is the key to continuous improvement and student success.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Digital Age Professional Development

As a professional development provider, one of our biggest challenges is finding the time to free up teachers to participate in focused PD. Offering professional learning during the school year is difficult due to already packed agendas on district-approved professional development days. Trying to offer training after-school is of little or no value since the audience comprised of teachers and leaders who, by the way, have already worked a full day are mentally, emotionally, and/or physically exhausted. 

Dr. Mary Moen’s 2015 Dissertation from the University of Rhode Island entitled, Teachers’ Self-directed Informal Learning for Technology Integration in 1:1 Device High Schools, offers some needed insight on what might be the wave of the future for professional learning. Dr. Moen’s findings indicated that teachers are frequently engaged in informal learning activities such as searching the Internet, routinely asking their colleagues for assistance, or just practicing on their own relating to technology integration practices. These findings corroborate early returns from the Spring 2016 LoTi Digital Age Survey Results which on some campuses found a strong correlation between the Level of Teaching Innovation (i.e., digital learning) and the use of specific websites as the primary “go to” provider for ideas, inspiration, and advice related to digital learning.

As we look ahead to maximizing the benefits of professional learning in the digital age, new models need to be conceptualized and put into practice. Formal online learning courses have their place, but in the day-to-day grind of the teaching profession, solutions and strategies need to be at one’s fingertips for immediate implementation including the necessary support structures. Dr. Moen’s research sheds light on a topic that has confounded educators for years—making professional development meaningful, practical, and sustainable.