Transforming Mobile Learning and Digital Pedagogies: An Investigation of a Customized Professional Development Program for Teachers in a Hospital School

From Section:
ICT & Teaching
Jan. 01, 2019

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 19(3), 498-528

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The authors state that at the hospital school where this study was located, transformational change with mobile technologies was undertaken for three purposes (McCarthy, Maor, & McConney, 2017):
1. Improving teachers’ technological skills.

2. Integrating mobile technologies in teaching, including accessing digital resources from the student’s regular school learning system.

3. Supporting children’s learning while in the hospital.

The current study investigated the implementation and outcomes of a customized professional development (PD) program, informed by hospital school teacher participant needs, to achieve those three outcomes.
This article reports on an examination of changes in hospital school teachers’ views in answer to the following research question:
To what extent were hospital school teachers’ technological, pedagogical, and personal needs for effective use of mobile technology in a hospital school met following participation in a customized PD program?


Research Context
The authors note that this research was conducted in a hospital school where teachers face the challenge of providing learning experiences to unwell students of mixed ages in various locations, while maintaining partnerships with parents, regular schools, health professionals, and colleagues (McCarthy et al., 2017).
The hospital school in this study operates at 20 government-owned sites across one Australian state, led by one principal based at the largest hospital site (School of Special Education Needs, 2019).
The school recently introduced its teachers and students (more than 5,500 per year) to a new strategic plan, which included upgraded information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, such as improved Wi-Fi access and provision of mobile devices and digital resources in an effort to enhance teaching and learning.
In addition, a PD program was implemented to support needed change and improvement with mobile technologies and relevant digital pedagogies.

Twenty-nine Bridge Hospital School (BHS) teachers participated in the initial phase of this research to identify hospital teacher needs prior to PD program design and implementation.
Twenty-two of those 29 participated in the post-PD data collection.
The authors note that the attrition was due to changes in circumstances, including long service leave and illness.

Research Design
The authors state that this study’s design leveraged the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies in a mixed methods approach.
Quantitative data were collected using a customized Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) survey (Archambault & Crippen, 2009).
Qualitative data were gathered through researcher-created open-ended survey questions and individual and focus group interviews with participant-teachers (McCarthy et al., 2017).
The overall study design enabled the identification of pre- and post-PD technology-related pedagogical needs of hospital teachers and provided insight about the extent to which tailored PD supported teachers’ construction of needed knowledge and skills in a meaningful way.
Reflection facilitated by a digital transformation coach provided a deeper understanding of the complex world of hospital school teachers and the PD needed to align teachers’ needs with 21st-century skills (Kereluik et al., 2013).

PD Program Design
The authors write that a PD program was designed collaboratively by university researchers, a digital technology coach, and hospital teacher participants.
The program was designed to target previously identified pre-PD technological, pedagogical, and personal needs of hospital school teachers for effective use of mobile technology to improve learning.
Reflecting on needs and existing TPACK competencies enabled the authors to identify gaps and develop a customized program.

Participating teachers completed pre- and post-PD TPACK surveys.
This instrument utilized the TPACK framework assessing knowledge that teachers are typically expected to have.
The survey included 49 items and was administered online.
A post-PD TPACK survey was completed by participants at the end of the research period to compare responses with the pre-PD survey to determine any changes in teacher needs and perceptions.
The researchers used descriptive statistics to summarize the data from teachers’ TPACK survey responses.
Inductive analysis and open coding were used to analyze responses to open-ended questions.
Pre-PD and post-PD teacher interview.
Individual interviews were conducted by the researchers, lasting 30 to 60 minutes, focused on teachers’ perceived needs for mobile technology to support their personal development and their students in BHS.
Post-PD teacher interviews compared pre- and post-PD teacher perceptions of needs for mobile technology support.
Pre-PD and post-PD focus group interview.
Five focus group interviews were conducted with groups of four to five teachers, each lasting between 30 and 60 minutes.
The purpose of the focus group interviews was to ascertain the needs, progress, and challenges from a collective perspective and to potentially identify particular needs pertaining to these participant-teachers.

Findings and discussion
The authors’ findings demonstrate that teachers’ technological, pedagogical, and personal needs related to effective use of mobile technology in a hospital school underwent substantial change following participation in a PD program that specifically catered to participants’ needs.
Data to support this finding included quantitative pre-PD and post-PD TPACK teacher self-assessment perception surveys, qualitative TPACK open-ended questions, individual interviews, and group interviews.
The authors report that the dependent t-tests support the view that the PD program was effective in improving three aspects of teachers’ knowledge: technological content knowledge (TCK), technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK), and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).
Further, there was no negative impact in the two areas where teachers were already confident: content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical knowledge (PK).
Analysis of the qualitative data from individual and focus group interviews showed that hospital teachers have a wide variety of technological, pedagogical, and personal support needs, including the exclusive use of a mobile device, quality infrastructure, and personalized PD.
Teachers’ technology-related needs included basic technological knowledge and availability of Internet access.
The authors report that the hospital teachers in this study generally expressed a strong need for learning how they could effect transformational change in digital pedagogical practices and keep abreast of major changes in the use of mobile and other technologies in regular schools.
Teacher needs reflected the pressure on hospitalized students to “keep up” with their regular school peers (Franck et al., 2013; Maor & Mitchem, 2015; McCarthy et al., 2017).
The authors also note that identifying teachers’ needs supported by PD successfully influenced participants’ preparedness to use mobile technology in their teaching. More importantly, based on responses to post-PD open questions and individual interviews, the 4-week coaching sessions coupled with customized PD and access to a mobile technology environment demonstrated a noticeable impact on teachers’ technological, pedagogical, and personal needs for effective use of mobile technology.
Moreover, having access to a coach and collaborating with peers allowed teachers to develop a curiosity for technology integration and opportunities for sharing and learning with peers.
Furthermore, the authors note that the findings in this study suggest that this group of experienced teachers in a hospital school setting saw benefits in collaborating as a learning community working on a common goal, in this case to implement mobile learning supporting their professional responsibilities and student learning.
The authors conclude that pedagogically customized PD that reflects context, supported by technology enriched educational frameworks (TPACK, 21st-century skills), and access to technology with a committed and supportive leadership successfully addressed hospital teachers’ needs.
Furthermore, the experience can invigorate reflective practice and the pursuit of professional growth through a sense of shared learning and goal setting

Archambault, L., & Crippen, K. (2009). Examining TPACK among K–12 online distance educators in the United States. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9, 71–88. Retrieved from
Franck, L. S., Gay, C. L., & Rubin, N. (2013). Accommodating families during a child’s hospital stay: Implications for family experience and perceptions of outcomes. Families, Systems, & Health, 31, 294–306.
Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 29, 127–140.
Maor, D., & Mitchem, K. J. (2015). Can technologies make a difference for hospitalized youth: Findings from research. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 31, 690–705.
McCarthy, A., Maor, D., & McConney, A. (2017). Mobile technology in hospital schools: What are teachers’ professional learning needs? Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 25, 61–89.
School of Special Educational Needs: Medical and Mental Health. (2019). About us. Retrieved from 

Updated: May. 27, 2020
Health education | Medical education | Pedagogical methodologies | Professional development | Technologically-mediated learning