Examining Professional Development Through Ely’s Eyes and the TPACK Framework



Co-written with the brilliant Jaclyn Calder @jaccalder  http://teachercalder.ca/

Gunn and Hollingsworth’s (2013) article, The Implementation and Assessment of a Shared 21st Century Learning Vision:  A District Approach, examines an educational district in Alberta and their shift to alter their teaching to better meet the needs of 21st Century students.  If we broke down the district’s situation by way of Ely’s eight conditions of change, then the board’s desire to implement change started because of number one, dissatisfaction with the status quo (Williams).  No longer was the traditional teaching methodology meeting the needs of the learners.  There was a need for more technological inclusion in classrooms, differentiated instruction, and new forms of assessment in order to teach a relevant 21st Century skill set to modern learners.  As Gunn and Hollingsworth (2013) stated, “Rapid technological changes have increased information availability and have radically improved communication.  The traditional methods of instructing students are no longer effective” (p. 202).

In order for these changes to be implemented, it was obvious to the district powers that the adopters, or teachers, must have sufficient knowledge and skill set to execute the change, thus meeting Ely’s second condition.  Ely’s third condition of change, availability of resources, wasn’t discussed in this article, but based on the questionnaire given to staff and included in the article, computers and internet are available for use, however specific technologies or how shared these resources are was not detailed.  Time, number four on Ely’s list, was adequately given to the adopters.  The article details a 3-year plan to allow for adequate time and training to alleviate anxiety and resistance among the teachers as they move away from traditional teaching approaches (Gunn & Hollingsworth, p. 203).  Within that 3-year structure, a minimum of 8 full professional development days was designated.  At the end of each year, adopters were asked to reflect on their process, how far they’ve come with their integration and how they are feeling, coping etc.  The first two years, time was set-aside during professional development for that necessary reflection.  

No specific reward or incentive was given directly, which is number five on Ely’s list.  However, as this was a district-wide goal, the incentive appears to be that everyone was tackling this change head on therefore; an incentive to keep up was created.  For many, the incentive was also to better their practice, making it more relevant.  The teachers reported “significant growth in perceptions and adoptions of software tools, pedagogies, communications methods and usages” which reads as reward to me (Gunn & Hollingsworth, p. 214).  The adoptees were active participants in the process primarily through survey feedback and discussion.  Therefore, Ely’s sixth condition of participation was checked off along with number seven, commitment as leaders in the change process had to buy into it.  Gunn and Hollingsworth (2013) discussed how the district incorporated both macro-level facilitation leadership (supplying the money and training) and micro-level leadership (the teachers themselves) (p. 213).  There was mutual support between the two leadership levels, which allowed all adopters to feel invested.  

There was strong leadership throughout the process, for example people at all levels within the district formed an advisory committee and they offered encouragement to other adoptees.  As Gunn and Hollingsworth (2013) state, “any school district willing to undergo such a project must be willing to commit time and monies exclusively designated for the upgrading of information and communications technologies.  They must be willing to provide significant systematic support for pedagogical change” (p. 215).  This district did just that, providing strong leadership from the beginning, meeting Ely’s eighth condition.  According to Gunn and Hollingsworth (2013), the changes that this district was working towards were fairly successful thus far, but of course work on teaching to the 21st Century learner is ongoing.

In fact, it was found that the 2008 district white paper referred to in Gunn and Hollingworth’s (2013) article (p. 205) was revised in June 2012 to update  their vision. It was refreshed by the same advisory committee referred to in the article (p. 205). The project continues to focus on both pedagogical and technological knowledge.

The Lethbridge SD #51 openly shared their application for the educational research grant, which funded the research project reported on in this article (Barry, 2008). If all professional development was conducted as outlined in this application, evidence of two of the three components of the TPACK framework were directly targeted through professional development, while the third component was at least partially and indirectly addressed.

The TPACK framework is used to explain how a teachers technological knowledge, content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge all intersect to enable the effective implementation of educational technology (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). By simply addressing the necessity for three distinct, yet integrating areas of knowledge, it fails to address the motivation required for adoption of technology. The dotted line circle around the framework implies the importance of context. The model of professional development used by Lethbridge SD #51 appears to have taken this necessity for context into consideration.

Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org

The professional development plan outlined 8 full days for a team of central (school district) administrators, school administrators and school lead teachers throughout two-years that focused on pedagogical knowledge (Barry, 2008). This ensured that each school had trained administrators and lead teachers available to support school-based professional development while also ensuring the push for a common vision among central board and school-based staff was upheld. A second layer to their professional development strategy included school-based and centrally hosted workshops around effective use of specific technologies (Barry, 2008). This combination of strategies appears to directly support both the pedagogical knowledge and technical knowledge required by teachers to effectively integrate educational technologies according to the TPACK framework.

Indirectly, the school-based professional development and professional learning teams are referred to throughout the grant application, but not directly supported through this specific research project. This eludes to some support to both the content knowledge and the need for working within appropriate contexts for individual schools. If school-based learning teams are designed around subject areas or grade-based teams, then the development and ongoing support for content knowledge will be present. In addition, the provision of flexibility for schools to run some school-based professional development as they saw fit, while perhaps making extracting reliable data more difficult for the researchers (p.214), allowed for individual school contexts to be acknowledged and supported.

Through the eyes of the TPACK framework, this professional development plan likely supported the development of both pedagogical and technological knowledge fairly well and consistently across the district. The specifics on how the content knowledge was developed or sustained and how individual school, subject area or grade level contexts were supported is still unknown.

In conclusion, while neither of these frameworks (Ely’s Conditions of Change or TPACK) can explain the entire situation or success documented by researchers, they can provide us with a lens to critically examine the change. It appears as though the strengths of the integration of technology in this case included; time, strong leadership, strong vision and a focus on both pedagogical and technological knowledge development.


Barry, L. (2008, December). Building Educational Technology Leadership Capacity – Implementing and Assessing a Shared Technology Vision Among District Schools. Retrieved on March 29, 2013 from http://lethsdweb.lethsd.ab.ca/OurDistrict/Documents/Tech_Docs/Ed_Tech_Proposal.pdf

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?

Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. Retrieved on March 29, 2013 from http://itpresentations.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/file/view/What+Is+Technological+Pedagogical+Content+Knowledge%3F.pdf

Lethbridge SD #51. Technology Vision White Paper. (2012, June). Retrieved on March 29, 2013 from http://lethsdweb.lethsd.ab.ca/OurDistrict/Documents/Tech_Docs/2012%20Tech%20Vision%20White%20April.pdf

Williams, M. (n.d.). Ely. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/elysconditionsofchange/history


\drə-ma-tik\ Dramatech: Personal assessment of adoption of digital technology


For this assignment I’m going to focus on my present level of technological adoption in my professional life (as, sadly, it is far more interesting than my personal life). Andy Warhol once said,

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself” (Brainy Quote, 2012).

This quotation is not only true (in my opinion), but sums up my integration of technology within my own teaching practice. Time keeps marching forward, and with each tick, technology is developing, the world changing and with it, the needs of students alter. That does not mean that our teaching practices change automatically, the reality is that our pedagogy doesn’t change unless we change it. This year, finding myself mid-way through UOIT’s Master of Education and Digital Technologies program, I made the decision that I should put my learning to use; after all, I paid good money to learn this stuff I should at least give the theories an honest go within a real life context. So, to avoid complete educational blasphemy, I made a conscious decision to create a student-centered, technologically enhanced drama course.

I have various technological adoption levels within my professional practice, identified here by SAMR classification.


Image from: http://isupport.com.au/

Substitution (technology acts as tool substitution):
iPad apps for improvisation that replace audience suggestions (which in junior grades are often limited). Also, allows for the students to more easily run their own improvisation thus empowering them.
Completion and tracking of daily process and participation marks using Numbers app replacing the paper on clip board and manual totaling of marks.

Augmentation (technology acts as a tool substitution, but offers improvements):
YouTube is used to show performance exemplars such as monologues from movies, mask work, scene studies etc. A better alternative to me performing, handouts and movie clips direct from full movies (also, the added benefit of downloading and saving good YouTube clips for future use). I can have the students pull up examples instantly of their favourite selections and we can discuss them.

Modification (technology allows for redesign of tasks or approach):
Twitter as a means to send out thoughts on class and process to each other or brief self-reflections (using course code as hash tag), a short and public journal entry or reflection that promotes dialogue.

Redefinition (technology allows for new tasks that couldn’t have been done previously without the technology):
My students are each creating a digital portfolio showing process, which is so important in drama, and product, their scenes or monologues. Their performance can be captured, they can show the visual as well as add words or narration to add in reflection on rehearsal process and final product, there is creativity in format, choice in editing and inclusion/exclusion, utilization of cell phones for pictures and taping in class. At the end of the semester they will present their digital portfolios and demonstrate their journey over the course of the entire semester, the ultimate in culminating activities.

A course Wiki that allows for collaboration and redefines the written work normally given as part of theory making it interactive, publicly viewed and offering more choice and control over their subject-matter (I will not expand, for more information please see other blog entry “A SMARt semester).

Where I’m at: If examining myself through the lens of Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations Theory, I’d be a blip somewhere on the adoption spectrum on the cusp between early adopters and the early majority. In my personal life, I would fall into the early to late majority mass wave, with laziness and lack of time and money as key to my resistance. However, working in the public education system, which tends to lean towards being resistant to change, I find myself a progressive technological leader amongst my colleagues in the classroom.


Image from: http://professionaldevelopment.alyssaberry.com/

Target Level: My move is towards a more fully flushed out technological integration within all of my classes, not just one. I would like to explore more relevant uses for my iPad. Although I have apps that create checklists for instance, I still use good old pen and paper for to do lists, assessment checklists and learning skills tracking to name a few. I would like to explore ways to bring technology into a variety of performance classes (drama and dance) in meaningful ways and to not only use the technology to enhance the learning experience for students, but to create meaningful theatre with and through technology.

Motivators: I consider myself a good teacher. I believe in giving students an educational experience that is relevant and meaningful to them. Online and digital technologies are part of our reality, and therefore need to be part of our pedagogy. Creating an educational environment that is progressing with the needs of our society is motivation enough for me. Also, I absolutely hate the thought of becoming stagnate and redundant. I am constantly rethinking and reinventing within my classroom and within the curriculum, attempting to maintain my interest as well as the students’.

Inhibitors: As Hall and Hord (1987) made clear in their Concerns-Based Adoption Model, there are certain elements that must be in play in order for change and successful implementation to occur. Time is always a huge inhibitor, there just never seems to be enough of it. Also, support, most technology PD within my board is not focused on the type of integration that I am interested in (I am beyond the basics that the professional development focuses on). There is a technology integration committee within the board that discusses implementation and successful practice, but it is limited to people at the board office level and administrators. This is not only frustrating as it does not help to further my goals, but to me it devalues those that are on the “front lines” if you will. It empowers, educates and gives voice to those who already have those things and doesn’t include those who are actually applying technology at the classroom level. I think it’s great that my school has a Twitter account, but it is just one man’s voice (the VP) and it seems like a superfluous addition when the real technological integration needs to be in the classrooms, at the root. Finally, I abound with creativity when it comes to ways to use technology within my classes, but I lack the application skills to be able to make it happen. At times, I can see the vision but am unsure of what technology to use to make that vision become reality. Of course, with more time and support (see my other inhibitors), I am sure that I could find the right programs to make my new arts education imaginings come true.


Brainy Quote. (2012, April 17). Andy warhol quotes. Retrieved from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/andy_warhol.html

Hall, G., & Hord, S. (1987). Change in schools: Facilitating the process. Albany, NY: State University of New York. Retrieved from http://books.google.ca/books

Puentedura, R. (2011). Samr model. [0]. Retrieved from http://msad75summertechnologyinstitute.wordpress.com/beyond-substitution/

Angry Birds made me do it!


This is a brief response to the group presenting Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations Theory consolidation activity.

In fact, it is not so much a response as it is a confession.

Angry Birds made me do it.

It is primarily due to those fierce wee birds being hurled through the air that I have an iPhone.

I was tired of hearing about how fun it was from peers. Sick for a few days and left to entertain myself with a friend’s tablet, I quickly became obsessed – those evil little piggies! The game with drawl, combined with my need of a new cellular device, and some peer pressure from friends swayed me to purchase a new toy for myself. I was in the later majority when, 5 long business days later, my iPhone was delivered to my door. How could the diffusion be improved? I’m not sure. In my case, my slow move to the iPhone had more to do with my own stubbornness than Apple’s marketing.

a SMARt semester:


My dance class wiki through the lens of Puentedura’s SMAR implementation model

SMAR stands for:

This past semester in an attempt to integrate more technology into my performance arts classes, I introduced a class wiki for my dance class’s written component. This was a replacement for multiple separate journal entries that I normally have the students write.

So, the wiki at its base was a substitution. It replaced the pen and paper written work normally assigned throughout the course. What did I gain by doing this? The students could work away all semester, with less forced deadlines, submitting a brief “wikiography” at the end of the semester outlining their contributions to the page. It also allowed them freedom in their choice of topics to pursue and got them using technology in a normally non-technological course.

The wiki augmented the traditional assignment. What a wiki allows for is student collaboration and peer review of contributed work. The students are encouraged to work together on the various pages, which in the traditional assigned journal entries they were never able to do. They have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to view other classmates’ work, editing as required. A public audience for their work encourages better product in my experience.

By modifying the basic journaling assignment by turning it into a wiki, the students have ownership over their written demonstration of learning. They can create templates, create subpages, research and write about a wide span of topics from dance movies, to choreographers, to musical influences, to styles, to breaking down actual dance steps if they wish. The journal entries normally assigned were much more topic specific and didn’t allow for much ownership on the part of the student.

Redefinition: The students were slow to collaborate at first and kept asking for approval of topics, pages, templates etc. But, nearer to the end of the semester they finally “got” that the page was theirs and they took off. It was only because of the technology (wikispaces, free for class room use and complete with privacy controls) that this process from teacher directed journal writing to student run wiki creation was possible. It was not always a smooth transition, but in the end it proved highly successful and with some tweaking I will introduce it to my semester 2 dance class as well.

A Moment


The following is a moment when change occurred and technological diffusion began in my drama class.

This is an actual transcribed conversation that occurred in my drama class at school, a school that doesn’t allow cell phones in classrooms:

(Sitting in our sharing circle at the start of class)

Me: Can you get out your phone, please.
Student: Get out my phone? You gonna take it?
Me: No, I am not going to take your phone, but could you please get it out.
Student: Why? I am not even doing anything.
Me: I know. I’m not going to take your phone. This isn’t a trick.
Student: K.
Me: Please take out your phone and open twitter . . . you have twitter right?
Student: Yeah
Me: OK. So get out your phone and open twitter.
Student: Ummmm (nervous glance to other students) K.
Me: Great. Can you please search the course code for this class?
Student: K.
(Pause while student slowly pulls out the phone giving me a skeptical “stink eye”)
Student: Right so you WANT me to use my phone in class AND you want me to go on Twitter?
Me: If you wouldn’t mind.
Student: K.
Student: (to me) You’re on Twitter?
Me: Yes.
Student: Are we allowed to tweet you?
Me: Sure, if it’s school related.
Student: Cool. What’s that video for?
Me: Watch it and you tell me.
(Pause while student watches video, other students look on with curiosity)
Student: (Laughs) This is about what we are doing in class!
Me: Yup.
Student: Cool.
Student #2: (who has been looking at other student’s phone) Crap. Guess I’m gonna HAVE to sign up for Twitter! I mean, even the teacher’s doing it.
Me: If you want to ask a question about the class, give reminders to class mates or express yourself about our work in class then use our course code as the hash tag.
Multiple students: (pull out their phones and watch the video I sent out)

The end . . . or is it just the beginning?




Image from: http://www.rankopedia.com/Best-The-Flintstones-characters/Step1/21609/.htm

The gist of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) created and articulated by Hall and Hord (1987) is that it isn’t enough to simply knock people over the head with change. Change is not an event that can be banged into daily life successfully but a process that takes time. Change is more like a conversation between the facilitator of the change and those engaging in the change, a back and forth, a constant “probe – adapt – intervene – probe – adapt – intervene” (Hall & Hord, 1987, p16). As Loucks-Horsley (1996) states, “learning brings change, and supporting people in change is critical for learning to “take hold” (n.p.).

Those implementing the change will go through stages developing from very self-centered reactions and lines of questioning to evaluating and analyzing the change implementation in terms of the greater good. (Sort of reminded me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs . . . if your basics are covered you gradually move towards self-actualization . . . with CBAM, when your basic supports are in place and you feel safe and comfortable you move towards full implementation and finally look beyond that to what may come next . . . but I digress). To clarify what I’m talking about, the following link takes you to a 1-page PDF created by New South Wales education and training which summarizes the basis of the CBAM model very succinctly: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/docs/pdf/cbam.pdf

In educational institutions, the key to change going well is the point of view of the participants, the support structure put in place and the leadership, assistance and presence of the “change facilitator,” usually the principal in a school setting.
My task this week was to describe one instance or example of how this model could be used to analyze a change within your own workplace.

I found this tough. So, I didn’t really do what was asked of me, as you will discover if you continue reading. There are many instances that I could talk about where change was attempted and brutally shot down. Or where change was introduced but not taken seriously or actually implemented.

It is hard to evaluate CBAM in a setting that doesn’t promote real change. Hall and Hord (1987) stated in their book Change in Schools: Facilitating the Process, “In too many cases in the past, it appeared that change facilitators based their interventions (i.e. what they did) on their own needs and timelines rather than on their clients’ needs and change process” (p. 5). In my setting this is still happening. Initiatives are introduced to us, the client, and we are asked to brainstorm how we can make this happen. The initiative is said to be a high priority item and then we are put into curriculum groups or school improvement teams and given 20 minutes to come up with a plan. We then, sometimes, share our ideas with the entire staff. Our brainstorming paper gets filed and we are sent out into the classroom to bring about the positive change deemed important and necessary. Of course, this has done nothing for any of the clients leaving us frustrated, confused and unheard. But, it has added some great ideas and brainstorming work to the change facilitator’s professional portfolio, and checked off their box on a list entitled “as mandated by _________________ and must be accomplished”.

Hall and Hord (1987) specifically used the title change facilitator over change agent as agent denotes one-way power, control and a very different perspective on their role within change. However, if you are working in a setting still dominated by the change agent mentality then the change adoption model simply can’t work.

The facilitator, who sets the tone for the institution must be adaptive and involved, open to conversation and interested in the needs of the clients. If your facilitator of change has the disappearing tendencies of say,


Image from: http://lovefromsarah.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/polkaroo-is-dead/

or has a personal agenda that doesn’t mesh with the changes that should be taking place, then CBAM is destined to fail as the appropriate climate for change and required support system are absent.

Hall, G., & Hord, S. (1987). Change in schools: Facilitating the process. Albany, NY: State University of New York. Retrieved from http://books.google.ca/books?

Lee, J., & Friedman, A. M. (2011). Research on technology in social studies education. USA: Information Age Pub Inc. Retrieved from http://books.google.ca/books?

Loucks-Horsley, S. (1996). The concerns-based adoption model (cbam): A model for change in individuals. the national academies. Retrieved from http://www.nas.edu/rise/backg4a.htm

New South Wales. (2010). Concerns-based adoption model (cbam). Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/docs/pdf/cbam.pdf

My life in the dip


So, we have been asked to briefly reflect on a time when we found ourselves in the depths of an implementation dip. The challenge I found was selecting just one as I feel I’ve spent most of my life in the dip.

The most striking and current to my memory was to relearn how to be a student during my first course with Francois (May 2012), which was also my first course in UOIT’s Master’s program. I remember my first class where I had my first look at Adobe Connect. With my name beginning with an “A” I was called upon first to introduce myself. I had no clue what I was doing; panic ensued as I fumbled around the site looking for something to give me a voice in the sea of bobbing web cam heads. Finally, I located the “unmute my microphone” button – success!

It was only months before this moment that I had bothered to update my cell to a smart phone. Being a performance arts teacher, it is rare that one uses online and digital technologies to the extent required for this Master’s program, in fact, technology in general is deemed by most to be impersonal, cutting humans off from one another. So going from a low-tech life, to smartphone, to being immersed in this program within a few months, found me at the bottom of the dip. I had to learn how to be a modern student; a student of technology. Eventually, I would have to learn how to do collaborative work, listen and contribute during class, take notes, submit work, and use new presentation materials all through a new and foreign platform. Education I knew, education through technology was a whole new ball game. But, here I am 4 courses later, owner of a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPhone and a kindle, not only competent in all myself, but able to help others at times. I now have more technological wherewithal than many of my students and it has all happened in less than a year.

Francois asked for feedback at the end of the course, one of my replies was that I’d felt like a fish out of water as I didn’t know what was going on or how to do much for the first few weeks. It seemed like everyone else came with some sort of knowledge and skill in how to be an online student, how to work in Adobe Connect, etiquette and so on. My growth in understanding and using the technology was quick. The initial shock forced me to sink or swim, and I chose to swim (although, admittedly, it sometimes more resembled flailing).

Hearkening back to my younger years, and excited to be a student again, I rushed out before Online Technology in Education last May and bought new pens, highlighters and notebooks. During that first class I enthusiastically took notes, in fact for the first half-dozen courses there was a pen and paper record of ideas, points and some doodles that illustrate my intake during that class, but then those entries gradually died out. I am now pleased to report that my courses are paperless thanks to my iPad notes and Stylus, Adobe PDF’s and a little bit of gathered know-how, and no matter what I seem to require I’ve discovered that there is always an APP for that.