Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 8, No. 2, August 2012, 193–204
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In the self-study reported here, the aim was to acquire a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that teacher educators and student teachers encounter while working with, and learning about, ICT as a tool for learning. This learning interest focused on both the practical aspects highlighted during the course and the more theoretical perspectives of knowledge and learning that emerge when technological aspects and tools are included in the process of teaching, learning, and assessing.
The theoretical framework of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) was used as a conceptual structure for the self-study.
The data for this self-study research project were collected during a course in the Teacher Education Programme (TEP) with an ICT focus.
The participants in the course were 28 individuals becoming preschool teachers and 10 compulsory school and upper secondary school teachers with different subject combinations in Sweden.
The students used a community of practice/learning in which they used social bookmarking tools and wrote and shared reflective and explanatory texts about their reasons for choosing a certain learning goal and digital tool, their experiences while using the tool and how their experiences and thoughts correlated with the course literature.
Analysis highlights the challenges and opportunities that teacher educators and student teachers may encounter while working with, and learning about, information and communication technologies to support learning.
One of the learning interests of this self-study was to analyze how the authors elaborated and developed their understanding of the theoretical framework of TPACK.
When analyzing how they elaborated and developed understanding of the theoretical framework, the authors learned how they understood the theoretical perspective from different perspectives and points of view. For instance, the teacher who had more experience of teaching ICT found it easier to understand and relate to the theory than the teacher who was more academically oriented.
The authors conclude that having extended experience of the practical implications of ICT makes it easier to fully understand aspects of the theory and, consequently, be in a better position to integrate theory and practice.
The authors also developed a greater understanding of how technology and content influence and constrain each other (TCK) and how teaching and learning change depending on which technologies are used (TPK).
Some conclusions at organizational and institutional levels can be drawn.
First, the way in which we have tried to understand the theoretical framework of TPACK does not follow familiar ways of learning to understand theories in the academic world, where theories are often said to be learnt by reading theoretical works or research. Thus, this way of practicing, analyzing, and elaborating an understanding of both practice and the theoretical framework of TPACK, via a dialectic alteration between theory and practice, to some extent goes beyond institutionalized academic ways of learning.
Second, the innovative elements of the course, such as the students’ greater freedom and the ICT tools used, challenged them more than they were used to. Thus, our self-study has revealed taken-for-granted organizational and institutional assumptions about teaching, learning, and assessment in teacher education.
Third, in addition to understanding what constitutes CK, PK, and PCK for different categories of teachers, a teacher educator today should ideally have an understanding of the TK, TCK, and TPK that each category of student teacher should have.
Finally, this research has strengthened the authors' conviction that self-study research is a powerful tool for professional development. There is thus a greater potential at organizational and institutional levels to implement and document self-study research for the professional learning and professionalization of teacher educators.