Teacher Blogger | By Brad Skeet
It was 2010 and I was teaching grade seven science for the first time. I had been a successful fifth grade teacher for the previous fifteen years and had taught science before. My grade five students and I would discuss the different concepts. They would perform hands-on experiment activities and would write wonderful lab reports about what they had learned. My students were engaged and happy in their learning. Or so it seemed. Fast forward two grade levels and I saw a very different group of students sitting in front of me. While they did the work for me out of what can only be described as compliance, one could see that they really were not interested nor invested in the work.
I had an extensive technology background for the time period. I thought that in order to engage my students, putting the course into Moodle (a learning management system) would engage my students because they were on computers. I was wrong in my assumption. Simply making an assignment electronic without changing the purpose behind the assignment did not make it more engaging for students. I had the technical skills but I did not have the technology integration skills.
It was about this time that I began to take a deeper dive into conceptual understanding as a teacher. Our school division had begun a shift toward students developing a mastery understanding of their subject areas. This meant that they would have a deeper understanding of what they were learning along with an understanding of why they were learning it. Ultimately, we wanted our students to be able to apply what they had learned to new and novel situations.
There are many educators who use technology in the classroom. It can be argued, however, that simply consuming information is not what we mean by technological integration. Simple literacy and mathematical software have their purpose, but they do not necessarily promote a deeper understanding of concepts. We want our classrooms to use technology to empower our learners. We want those students to be engaged in their learning and to be motivated to push further. The question can be asked: “How do we help teachers move practice forward to allow for technology integration?”
Informed Through Neuroscience
In his book Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective, Dale Schunk states that:
The neuroscience behind motivation has helped to inform classroom instruction. Students perceive meaningful learning as relevant because they believe it will enhance them personally. Learning requires active participation combined with self-criticism and self-evaluation by learners and the belief that learning is important. Rather than imparting learning, the primary job of teachers is to act as facilitators who establish a classroom climate oriented toward significant learning and help students clarify their goals (Schunk, 2011).
Technology can help students to feel in charge of their learning by engaging them and creating self-efficacy. Teacher feedback can be made more timely with the proper inclusion of technology within the classroom.
What we know is that no one technology can support all learning in the classroom. Use of technology should depend on the learning goals. Although technology has the potential to foster different learning goals, it may not be the best way to promote student interaction through peer teaching, group discussions, or cooperative learning (Schunk, 2011). It can also be noted that a toolbox of different technology tools would be most beneficial to a variety of learning goals.
Nirvana:Technology Integration in the Content and Pedagogical Rich Classroom
As educators, we recognize the need to integrate technology in the classroom. The first popularized technology integration framework, TPCK (pronounced TPaCK) was created by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler. It is based on Shulman’s work where teaching pedagogy knowledge (P) and knowledge about the content in a subject (C) overlap (PCK). Twenty years later, Mishra and Koehler saw that the biggest change happening in education was the use of technology in the classroom. They noticed that technological knowledge was treated as a set of knowledge outside of and unconnected to PCK. After five years of research, Mishra and Koehler created a new framework, TPCK, which adds technology to pedagogical content knowledge and emphasizes the connections, interactions, and constraints that teachers work within all three of these knowledge areas (McGraw Hill Ryerson, n.d.).
However, TPCK is complex for teachers to understand. In his 2016 study, Jason Hilton noted that teachers generally found that the use of the SAMR model was easier than the TPCK model (Hilton, 2016). The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, is a model that supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology. The goal is to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students (Schrock, n.d.). Many education technology bloggers will often use SAMR in conjunction with Bloom’s higher-order cognitive skills. This helps teachers move from teacher-centred to student-centred classrooms which, in turn, will help to result in greater motivation and self-efficacy. Both the TIM and SAMR aim for the same outcome.
TIM for Technology Integration
TIM stands for the Technology Integration Matrix that was developed at the University of South Florida. On the matrix website (https://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/) the creators state that:
It provides a common vocabulary for pedagogically sound technology integration for teachers, school leaders, coaches, researchers, evaluators, and professional development facilitators. The theoretical framework of the TIM is based on constructivist learning theory and research related to teacher practice. In contrast to other models for technology integration, the TIM is designed to evaluate a lesson, as opposed to rating a teacher or judging a discrete task (Florida Center for Instructional Technology, n.d).
The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal-directed. These characteristics are associated with five levels of technology integration: entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation. Each cell (the intersection of a characteristic and a level) is described with a summary indicator, detailed indicators for the student, teacher, and learning environment, and multiple lesson videos. James L. Welsh from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology goes into depth around how to use the matrix in a short video that can be found at https://youtu.be/zyN9l5LK5uM.
The TIM was not designed simply to promote the use of technology, but rather to encourage the use of whatever technology is available to promote effective, researched-based pedagogy (Winkleman, 2019). Like TPCK before it, TIM was designed to help teachers integrate technology as a part of the content and knowledge pedagogy in the classroom rather than a set of knowledge on its own. TPCK gives educators an overview of technology integration in relation to the content and pedagogical knowledge. However, TPCK does not tell educators what TPCK should look like or how they can achieve it.
Is TIM the Best Tool For You?
When I wanted to better my practice of technology integration, I originally turned to the SAMR model. I found it that it was easy to use and simply explained what I was trying to achieve. However, given the nature that the SAMR model is a vertical model, I was always trying to use technology for “Redefinition” rather than match it to the particular conceptual learning in my classroom. Second, to effectively use the SAMR model, one should use Bloom’s Taxonomy in conjunction with this. This allows you to match the technology integration with the characteristics of classroom learning that is necessary in instructional design.
The TIM on the other hand, has the combination of technology integration and classroom learning pedagogy built into one model. While SAMR will give a brief explanation of the technology and how to integrate it, the TIM provides specific details as to a teacher’s current technology integration within a specific learning characteristic of the classroom.
As a school administrator, I will be leading technology integration with my staff as we focus on conceptual learning in our classrooms. The TIM makes it easy for me to identify where a teacher’s use of technology currently is. The video examples that the TIM provides are excellent. They show a teacher what proper technology integration can look like within the classroom. These videos even demonstrate how teachers can apply technology in specific subject areas. In my experience, this is what teachers are looking for. They want to be shown the possibilities and then be able to measure their progress.
Finally, the TIM has been extensively researched. Available since 2003, the TIM is based upon previous research and is continuously refined. The last date of refinement was in 2019. As a technology leader, this gives me confidence that I am using a soundly researched tool.
Is there a downside? Unfortunately, yes. The TIM allows district technology leaders to use a set of tools (called TIM Tools) to allow for deeper and more effective assessment of a teacher’s use of technology. However, the tools that the TIM makes available for district integration cost money. In times of tight educational budgets, purchasing a subscription to the TIM tools might be prohibitive for many. However, from a teacher perspective and starting off with technology integration, the TIM still provides the free matrix that will help in instructional design. While the TIM Tools are available, they are not necessary for individual teachers to begin using the TIM.
I have found the TIM to be a concise package that honours the work of TPCK and discusses technology integration in an easy to understand matrix. If I had the TIM ten years ago, my science class would have been different. First, I would have been able to use the TIM to see where my knowledge of technology integration currently was. Second, the examples that the TIM provides would have shown my how other science teachers at my grade level were incorporating technology into their lessons. Finally, using the tools that the TIM provides, I would have been able to use sound pedagogy when designing the learning for that class. Rather than digitized worksheets, I believe that I would have had assignments with greater depth that the technology would allow. Which technology integration model will you use when designing learning?
Florida Center for Instructional Technology. (n.d.). Background and Development of the TIM.Retrieved from https://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/matrix/background/
Hilton, Jason Theodore. A Case Study of the Application of SAMR and TPACK for Reflection on Technology Integration into Two Social Studies Classrooms. Social Studies. Mar-Apr 2016, Vol. 107 Issue 2, p68-73. Retrieved from http://0-search.ebscohost.com.aupac.lib.athabascau.ca/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=112999516&site=eds-live
McGraw-Hill Ryerson Education (n.d). What is TPACK Theory and how can it be Used in the Classroom? Retrieved from (https://www.mheducation.ca/blog/what-is-tpack-theory-and-how-can-it-be-used-in-the-classroom/).
Schunk, D. H. (1/2011). Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective, 6th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version].
Schrock, Kathy (n.d). Resources to Support the SAMR Model. Retrieved from https://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html
Winkleman, Roy. (January 31, 2019). Active Learning: Engaging Students’ Minds. Retrieved from https://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/active-learning/
Technology Integration https://images.app.goo.gl/kXpFQv544QRrW13P6
Technology Integration Graphic (Head) https://images.app.goo.gl/t676T5bRa3Jssn9u8
About the Contributor
Brad Skeet has been an educator for over twenty-five years and is currently the Vice-Principal at Ecole Joe Clark School, a K-5 school, in High River, Alberta. Working with students primarily from grades 3 through 9, Brad has had a keen interest in the blended classroom where technology and teaching meet. He is currently working on coursework in pursuit of a Masters in Education degree.
Except otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.