vrijdag 22 oktober 2010

Integrating technology: "just try it"!

An article which I have read a couple of weeks ago (and also showed to my students) keeps popping up in my mind.. it's the article of Mary Burns about "The 5J approach". As many articles that have been published recently the topic is difficulties that teachers face when integrating technology into classroom learning. The author of this article indicates that one cause of this difficulty seems to be the types of technology-related professional development teachers receive (still too focused on learning how to use the software instead of integrating it into someone's own teaching and learning process). And this is not a new message. We know that teachers are using technology, but this use is often related to administration, preparation of documents or displaying a presentation. Using technology as a learning tool for students is a different and more difficult thing. And we still have not figured out why this is the way it is.

In the mean time many researchers (including me and my colleagues) are trying to find out a) why teachers still have difficulties with integrating technology and b) if (if!) we find the answer to this: how can we really help them to integrate the technology in such a way that both teachers and students can benefit from it.

At the moment we are trying to find out if the TPACK framework can be of assistance in this and it looks promising. But it might be interesting to see if we can use the 5J's too. The 5J's stands for technology professional development which is:
  • job-related, focused on the core competencies of the classroom, not technology
  • just enough, emphasizing increased comfort, not proficiency, with computers and management of limited technology resources
  • just in time, meaning teacher are provided with skills as and when needed
  • just in case teachers need to plan for contingencies
  • accompanied by a "just try it" attitude, wherein instructors apply both pressure and support to compel teachers to use what they've learned.
The first time I saw this list I was triggered by the fifth J: Just try it. And if you look at what the author is writing, she is saying that this J might be the most important of all J's. She states that "central to change is action, and this is where professional development often breaks down. [...] Without application in the classroom, professional development is a waste of time, money, and effort." It is argued in the article that "Only when these five 'J's come together in a systematic way might the story of technology-based trainings have a different ending."
Figure 1: Proposed visual of the 5J model

I tried to put this in a figure (I like visual representations..) that is similar to the TPACK circles. Following the arguements in the article of Mary Burns we should pay attention to all 5 J's in order to have a succesfull technology-based training.

But I propose an alternative.. My suggestion is to support teachers by paying attention to job-related, just enough, just in time and just in case in combination with a little bit more attention to linking this with pedagogy and content (and thereby emphasising the job-related component?) and placing the "just try it" in the middle of the figure like this:
Figure 2: Alternative visual of the 5J model

It is my hope that by paying sufficient (and what is sufficient?..) attention to the other 4 Js, the teacher should be encouraged enough to try things out in his or her classroom.

And yes.. I am also "just trying".. I realise that the overlapping circles are not really the right way to visualise it, because what would be the overlap between job-related and just enough and between all the other components?

But if you have any ideas about the 5 J's, please let me know!

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