Confronting the technological pedagogical knowledge of Finnish Net Generation student teachers

Teemu Valtonen , Susanna Pontinen , Jari Kukkonen , Patrick Dillon ,
Pertti Väisänen & Stina Hacklin (2011) Confronting the technological pedagogical knowledge of Finnish Net Generation student teachers, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 3-18, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2010.534867

The paper is based on a survey of 74 first year student teachers in a Finnish teacher training school, at a rural university, in their first semester. They are asked to design a lesson using ICT in some format of their choice to deliver a lesson.

It;s concerned with analysing the assertions of Oblinger and Prensky with regard to digital natives, and is attempting to discover whether those surveyed (who fit the borth date requirements for digital nativity) are imbued  with the technological skills and learning attributes we are told to expect in them, and design for. It;ls of interest if teachers have these skills as a function of their age, as this might reflect on ICT implementation.

Finland has a policy for ICT implementation throughout the educational system.

The autors use the TPCK concept (Technological pedagogical content knowledge) to analyse teachers ICT use in their teaching training projects.  It’s a blend of knowledge about pedagogy, subject knowledge, and knoweldge about technology that can enable the determination of the best pedagogic and technological solutions for teaching in particular contexts.

“Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) adds a technological dimension to PCK. In other words, TPCK implies: (i) flexible skills to navigate between and integrate content, pedagogy and technology in learning situations and to employ technology in teaching; (ii) the ability to present the topic by means of technology; (iii) the ability to pinpoint the challenging issues of the topic; and (iv) the facilitation of the learning process by using technology.” p5

Kirschner uses this study as a composite part of his argument to debunk the digital native myth. It is not the only paper, and taken as a whole, his argument and evidence is more broadly based. But a criticism of this paper is that it takes 74 first year training teachers from one location, in their first semester, in what appears to be a rural context, who are not randomly selected, and draws general conclusions from them.  And they are tasked in very open and non directed way to create a lesson with an ICT aspect. It hardly seems like a perfect sample for the purpose…

  • They also use, centrally, a categorisation scheme for people;s relationship to technology – Innovators who try new tech first, becasue of their interest in tech.
  • Early adopters: see the benefits of tech and adopt qquickly both personally and professionally
  • Early majority – see tech benefits, but value parcticalities more. So, they will wait a while and guage new tech before implementing.
  • Late majority: don;t trust their own abilities, and wait until tech becomes household
  • laggards: wary because of economic or personal experience reasons.

This classification is used to determine the degree of digital nativeness in the target group.

The study selects specific criteria of digital nativeness/ net generationness to explore. A willingness to take on new technology, to the degree that they are innovators, they will have lived their whole lives surrounded by technology, and this has “allegedly affected their way of thinking, acting and learning.” The authors specifically highlight that natives are supposed to be able to leverage technology, especially social media, for learning, or, in this instance, for teaching.

The paper argues that in their module design, students typically used a small range of resources, websites and software, and take this of evidence of lack of familiarity. This seems an unwarranted leap, perhaps. That the students didn;t design for extensive and broad use in their first semester. However the questionnaire claerly shows that, on average, there is not a huge willingness on the part of students to engage with new technologies.

“The mean value of the subscale ‘Willingness to experiment with new technologies’
was quite low – 2.20 (SD = .80) – indicating that this group of student teachers
were not very active users of technology, do not actively follow the development of
technology, and do not perceive that they use technology more than their friends.”

Teachers describe limited technologies and usages in their modules. Social media are rarely mentioned, and then only passively. Moodle, their LMS is barely mentioned at all,

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