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TPACK+ model
Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by

If you asked me what the most important things to take away from the TPACK+ model of technology integration are, I would suggest:

  1. Planning for technology integration is only effective if you concurrently consider the nature of the content, pedagogical strategies, and technological affordances. This is the “sweet spot” of the TPACK+ model.
  2. An even more vital consideration is the context. This might not be obvious in the model because it is labelled at the bottom. However, it surrounds the entire model. Context should dictate decisions about technology integration.

I take context very seriously and model this for my courses and workshops. I do this by first finding out as much as I can about my learners.

For a course that just ended two nights ago, I had to make changes to adapt to participants who were collectively different from those that took the same course just five months prior.

Why? This batch learners was youthful. Seventy-one percent (71%) were teachers while the rest were leaders or managers. The same proportion had less than one year (9.7%) or no (61.3%) official teaching experience.

Five months ago, the proportion was about even between the newbies and the more experienced educators. The batch before that was almost the polar opposite: Almost two-thirds were experienced teachers while the rest were fresh faces.

If I did not conduct a survey, I could have simply gauged their experience and ICT readiness by their preferred technology. Given the choice to bring a device, my most recent class had a total of only two or three laptops. Everyone else was clutching an Android or iOS device. The earlier batches were laptop dominant and I had to cater for power strips all over the room.

The shifts were visually and qualitatively obvious to me. The shifts were clearer with quantitative data. But both forms of sensing were pointless if I did not adapt to the changes in context.

While there are many contextual elements — for example, physical environment, time of day, overall energy of learners, social cohesiveness — the technology context was a key consideration if I was to provide similar content and leverage on powerful pedagogical strategies.

To those ends, I used the new Google Sites as it seamlessly adjusted to screens on large or small devices. I embedded tools and resources that were mobile-friendly.

The access and consumption was flawless. However, creating on mobile is still an issue. For example, mind mapping tools like Coggle and even Google Docs still do not work evenly across different mobile browsers. Some of my participants could view, but not edit. Fortunately, they were grouped with others who could. Therein lay another benefit of group work.

This is the bottomline: It important to sense shifts in the ground; it is just as important to adapt to changes. Just as there are differences between individuals, one group of learners is different from the next. I reflect more so I need to react less.

From the perspective of systemic change, it is important to distinguish between evolutionary and revolutionary change.

This video of elders reacting to the Apple Watch illustrates that.

Video source

Some people would have you believe that the Watch is revolutionary. It is not.

The Apple Watch helps you do what you can already do with app-enabled iPhones in a smaller form factor. Some of the things are more convenient (e.g., fitness tracking) while others less so (e.g., texting).

The Apple Watch is not fully independent; it needs to work with a recent iPhone. It is the very early stage of what is to come, much like Google’s unfairly maligned Glass.

Watch and Glass are evolutionary, not revolutionary. They have not changed how we behave or what we can do by a quantum leap.

The video of the elders reacting brings up another important point: How far an evolutionary product gets (and if it gets a chance to be revolutionary) depends on the attitude of its users.

One elder put it wisely at the end:

Old people get older when they stop accepting the changes that are happening and stop expecting new change to come around.

The statement does not only apply to “old people” but to anyone with a closed mindset.

I should tie in what I reflected on recently about the A-B-Cs of change and the broad 1-2-3 strategies for adopting change.

The A-B-Cs of change are awareness, buy-in, and commitment/control (ownership). It is one thing to be aware of the Apple Watch, it is another to believe that it is worth your time. Buying the product also means adopting Apple’s processes as your own.

Apple has shown that is can do this successfully with some of its product lines. It does this by manipulating the three broad strategies of personal relevance, emotional ties, and shared interests.

I have read of people who were initially non-committed or skeptical about the Watch and were sold on getting one after a hands-on demonstration. One or more apps create strong relevance to the user. The minimalist look and human-centric design might stir excitement, desire, or joy. The desire to be in a relatively exclusive club drives ownership and interest.

Slowly but surely, companies like Apple and Google bring about change. What do schools do about the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s of change?

I am stubborn about certain things. One is insisting that people change course should I sense trouble.

I do not see why some people would rather react to change instead of prepare for it. Perhaps they cannot see it coming.

Like a broken bridge, all the signs are there. But they coast along without a care thinking they can deal with it later.

By the time they do this, it is too late because their momentum carries them off the bridge. If they manage to stop, they cease on their journey forward.

No, I would rather read the signs and change my path if necessary.

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