The Many Faces of TPACK/Investigating Turkey's Technology Initiatives with TPACK
Investigating Turkey’s Technology Initiatives with TPACK
by Halil Kayaduman
Rapid advancements in technology have affected almost all areas people involve in. By means of technological advancements, the processes of living and working have changed to provide better environments in which people can maintain their lives. As well as the other areas like banking, transportation, or public affairs; educational areas have also positively affected by technological advancements. It is stated in the literature that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has several positive contributions to educational settings. For example; Godfrey (2001) stated that ICT can provide rich learning environments, let learners adapt content relevant to their needs, foster flexible knowledge construction and allow learners to progress at their own pace and so forth. Therefore, we can say that technology integration is inevitable to meet the needs of educational settings. Moreover, it can provide more effective educational environments. Knowing that, many countries around the world have invested so much money to integrate technology into education.
2. Why TPACK in the Process of ICT Integration?
TPACK is the combination of technology, pedagogy and content. It stands for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). Mishra and Koehler (2006) stated that ”TPACK is the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones” (p. 1029). This model is really important for the process of technology integration in teaching and learning. It implies that there should be a combination of three key points for successful technology integration which are: technology, pedagogy, and content. Considering these three key elements, it could be easier to integrate technology into educational settings. Shin and his colleagues (2009) claimed that teacher’s comprehension toward TPACK is very important for successful technology integration. Perhaps, the reason why previous ICT integration projects did not attain their goals is due to considering the technology part only, and ignoring the other two key elements which are; pedagogy and content. Or, some earlier ICT projects have just focused on Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) while trying to integrate technology, rather than focusing on TPACK.
While searching the literature, we can see that the studies consider the importance of TPACK for the process of technology integration. For instance; Abbitt (2011) investigated the relationship between TPACK and self-efficacy of pre-service teachers about technology integration. He found that there is significant and positive correlation between TPACK model and self-efficacy beliefs about technology integration. In another study, Jimoyiannis (2010) used the TPACK model for designing and implementing Technological Pedagogical Science Knowledge (TPASK) for science teachers. At the end of the study, teachers stated that their willingness and confidence in the ability of applying ICT in their own classrooms was increased. Moreover, Sahin, Aktürk, and Schmidt (2009) analyzed the vocational self-efficacy of pre-service teachers through the lens of TPACK. The results showed that participants who got high scores in TPACK in its all three dimensions, also got higher scores in vocational self-efficacy beliefs. This shows that TPACK is correlated to self-efficacy beliefs of teachers and subsequently they can be confident to use technology in their teaching activities. It can be understood from these studies that TPACK model may leverage the process of ICT integration. Thereby, we can safely say that, teachers can become more confident about technology integration in their classes, by using TPACK in high levels.
Teachers are the key practitioners of ICT projects. Therefore, attaining the goals of projects substantially depends on teachers. This is why; comprehension of TPACK is a necessity to teachers for successful implementation of ICT integration. At this point, Dilworth et al. (2012) stated that the most effective uses of technology necessitate an understanding of content and pedagogical strategies at the same time. Thus; it is really important to consider TPACK, by that teachers can become more confident and willing to integrate technology into educational activities effectively.
3. Turkey's Technology Initiatives
In Turkey, a couple of nationwide projects have been conducted to benefit from the potential of technologies in educational settings. National Basic Education Program (NBEP) and Movement of Enhancing Opportunities and Improving Technology (FATIH) can be given as examples of big technology integration projects in Turkey. To conduct the first Project, NBEP; Ministry of National Education (MEB) has taken loan from the World Bank about six hundred million dollars. The second project, FATIH, is being supported by the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications. The project is still continuing and it is stated that by the end, almost twenty billion Turkish Liras is going to be invested.
3.1. National Basic Education Program
The purpose behind the NBEP project was to improve the quality of education and make schools the learning centers of community. The project consisted of two phases. The main purpose of the first phase was to provide technological devices to schools across Turkey. In the scope of this phase; computers, printers, scanners, TVs, educational software have been distributed to almost every school in the country. In other words, the MNE has set up information technology classrooms to all schools around Turkey. In addition to these technological devices, in-service training programs have been prepared for teachers and administrators to improve their computer literacy level. Following to the first one, the second phase has been prepared. The reason behind conducting this phase was to develop the first phase. In the scope of the second phase; an educational web portal was developed, educational software materials were distributed to the schools, more in-service training programs were provided to teachers and administrators. By means of this phase, it has been tried to overcome the difficulties of integration in educational settings and educate the pre-service teachers on usage of technology (MEB, 2007).
After the NBEP project started, several research have been conducted about the integration process of ICT. Generally research about the process show that; equipment, software materials, and web sites have not been used appropriately to support educational activities. For example; Cüre and Özdener (2008) conducted a study to determine the level of teachers’ success in using ICT. The results of the study showed that teachers have lack of knowledge in using ICT in their classrooms. In another study, Yildirim (2007) has conducted a study to examine teachers’ current use of ICT in basic education schools in Turkey, and investigated the barriers of technology integration. The results showed that most of the teachers were not able to use ICT to help students’ learning across curriculum. They mostly used ICT tools for preparing handouts and tests. As the barriers of technology integration, teachers also stated the ineffective in-service training programs, inappropriateness of curriculum, lack of incentives, and lack of pedagogical support. In the study of Akbaba Altun (2006), she aimed at identifying the issues related to integrating computer technologies into education. It was found that teachers lacked of computer literacy skills, and in-service training programs for teachers were not sufficient, particularly in content areas. Askar and Usluel (2003) examined three primary schools and found out that teachers find using computers beneficial for the purpose of administrational and personal issues. However, they find using computers questionable for educational purposes.
All in all, NBEP was a big budget ICT integration project conducted in Turkey. It can be concluded from the literature that it has been a problematic process. Teachers generally are not able to integrate technology into their educational. As Askar and Usluel (2003) argued that even though teachers used computers for personal issues, they did not prefer to use it for educational activities. For this reason, the in-service teacher training programs were insufficient to develop Technological Knowledge (TK) and more importantly TPACK level of teachers for the successful implementation.
3.2. Movement of Enhancing Opportunities and Improving Technology (FATIH)
After the NBEP, there is now another huge project which is still being conducted in Turkey named “Movement of Enhancing Opportunities and Improving Technology”, shortly FATIH. It was released to the public in November 2010 with the intention of adapting new technology into education. The aim of this project is to provide ICT equipment to classrooms and attain the goals of education by supporting teaching processes with the help of ICT. Within the scope of FATIH project, 42.000 schools and 570.000 classrooms are going to be equipped with the latest technology and turned into computerized classrooms. Other aims of the project are, also, to provide educational e-content, increase effective usage of ICT in teaching programs, and arrange in-service teacher training programs to help the process of ICT integration (MEB, 2013).
Being invested almost twenty billion Turkish Liras (more than 11 billion US dollars), the FATIH project is claimed to be the biggest ICT integration project all over the world. Considering this large investment, we should pay more attention for the components of this project. Otherwise, it is going to be inevitable to see similar research consequences like other unavailing projects. It can be understood from the aim and scope of the FATIH project that teaching and learning environments are going to be reshaped by integrating technology. Toci and Peck (1998) claimed that providing technologies to educational settings only does not mean that they are going to be properly used as a part of learning and teaching process. So, it is not enough to provide just the equipment to schools. That’s why; each step of FATIH project should be carefully planned to attain the goals. Otherwise, this enormous investment, which has never been done so far, may be wasted.
An evaluation report of FATIH project was done by MEB (2012). In this context, the FATIH project which is being conducted in pilot schools was evaluated by four universities. There are several findings in this report. For instance, in terms of teachers; it was observed that teachers were still not able to benefit from technologies even though they had these skills. Teachers also stated that they did not make use of in-service teacher training programs efficiently and subsequently their workloads increased due to not having enough computer literacy skills. Students also stated that the workload of teachers have increased and teachers have lack of computer literacy skills. In terms of using technology in educational settings, teachers stated that intense interaction with tablet PCs caused to lose interest toward lessons for students and classroom management process has been difficult because of the tablet PCs. Similarly, students stated that they were in difficulty while doing their homework and taking notes during the classes because of tablet PCs. On the other hand, it could be seen on the report that smart boards were not being used in an appropriate way to support learning and teaching activities.
All in all; it can be understood from the report that even though technological devices have been provided to the schools; teachers, students and stakeholders had in difficulty to use these technologies for educational activities. This confirms what Toci and Peck (1998) said in their study. They had stated that providing technologies to educational settings did not mean that they were going to be properly used as a part of learning and teaching process. That is; this project is also moving on problematic and not able to support educational activities. The reason behind that may be because of training programs. Due to inefficient training programs, teachers could not benefit from their opportunities to support educational activities. By the help of TPACK in training programs, teachers may benefit from their opportunities in a better way. At this point, it could be said that teachers have Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (PK and CK) considering their teaching experiences. However, TK could be somewhat missing. This is because; while TK level of teachers are improved, TPACK can foster those skills and also help teachers integrate technology for their educational activities.
It could be said that ICT integration process in Turkey is questionable. At the first project, NBEP, the problem may stem from the ineffective in-service training programs. The first reason behind the failure is the training programs being not able to improve the teacher’s TK level even though the main goal of training programs was to improve that skill. In a study, Kayaduman, Sirakaya and Seferoglu (2011) stated that teachers take training programs to improve their computer literacy. Within the scope of these training programs; basic operations about computer literacy are just taught to in-service teachers. It could be said that the training programs in scope of ICT project, generally focus on Technological Knowledge (TK) rather than TPACK. Considering that teachers already have PK and CK, TPACK level should have been focused for the success. At the second project, FATIH, it is also going problematic as it can be understood from the first report prepared by MEB (2012). Similar reasons can be considered as stated for NBEP why it was not successful. At this point, Uluyol (2013) asked very important questions to be answered about in-service teacher training programs for FATIH project. The question is how teachers are going to be trained from the theoretical and pedagogical aspects as well as improving computer literacy skills. Kayaduman and his colleagues (2011) put emphasize on in-service training programs for FATIH project, as well. They claimed that teachers should be trained via face to face and distance education courses. However, these training programs should be in a continuous way not only once. That is; teachers are the hearts of education and ICT integration. It could be understood from teachers’ perspectives and attitudes, whether an ICT project fulfills its aim or not. Therefore, training programs should be carefully designed in order to foster the integration process. Referring to the in-service teacher training programs, TPACK model can positively contribute to integrate the technology into educational settings. While teachers are in the training programs, they may learn not only about using technology but also how technology can be used as a tool for learning and teaching. In this way, teachers may see the benefit of technology and how they can support their educational activities by the help of TPACK rather than only learning how to use them. Hence; it could be said that TPACK model can be a good framework to design in-service teacher training programs. Last but not least, by designing in-service teacher training programs based on TPACK, teachers may realize that technology is an integral part of learning and teaching process. Accordingly, integrating technology into education can get easier.
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