Essential Knowledge Framework for Technology-Enabled Learning

What are the essential skills required for Training Managers or Instructors? They need to have good grip on the content they are handling, and they need to know the instructional methodologies that should be adopted to ensure that the content is shared in the best possible way with learners. However, in today’s context, this is not enough. Technology is playing a key role in training, and training managers need to understand technology and its relationship with content and instructional methodology or pedagogy. So, the knowledge framework that is essential for training managers includes technology, and it has become a key component along with content and pedagogy.

TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) is a knowledge framework that is proposed for teachers who wish to use technology for teaching. This has been developed keeping the academic domain in mind and suggested for K-12 teachers to enable them to effectively integrate technology while teaching. Here, we will use the same framework and adapt it to the corporate training context.

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Essential Knowledge Framework for Technology-Enabled Learning

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TPACK consists of three main components.

  1. Content Knowledge (CK)
  2. Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)
  3. Technology (TK)

In addition to these three components, there are 4 overlapping components which are as follows:

  1. Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)
  2. Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)
  3. Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)
  4. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)

What the TPACK framework emphasizes is the development of a system where all the three components are understood and harnessed effectively with relation to the learning context, audience requirements and pedagogical goals.

Let us use this framework and apply it in the corporate training and online training context. What are the essential components that are involved when training managers or stakeholders are planning training programs in organizations? Here is a simple diagram that is based on the TPACK framework.

Essential Knowledge Framework for Technology-Enabled Learning

Content Knowledge (CK): Training managers need to have a good understanding of the training content. It is based on this understanding that they will be able to define the knowledge and skills gap that needs to be bridged through training program. Unlike K-12 teachers, who are experts in their subjects, it is not possible for training managers to have knowledge about all the departments or functions in an organization. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) provide valuable content knowledge for their specific areas of expertise. Content knowledge enables training managers to evaluate the current knowledge and skills of learners and plan the expected learning outcomes based on the knowledge gap of the learners. Content knowledge also enables training managers to draft the training curriculum and learning strategy.

Instructional Knowledge or Pedagogical Knowledge (PK): Organizations may have internal instructional designers or learning design experts. However, training managers still need to have an idea about sound instructional design principles and be able to develop the right Instructional Strategy for a given training situation. As corporate training involves adult learners, knowledge of adult learning principles and an idea of how adults learn is essential. Additionally, one needs to understand the different learning styles and preferences and be able to offer a curriculum accordingly. The objective is to present the content in a format that best achieves the learning objective in the most effective manner, keeping in mind the needs of the target audiences.

Technology (TK): The third component is the technology aspect where one has to consider the technological tools that will be available for presenting the content in an instructionally sound format to the learners. In the corporate training context, the technology available is in terms of Learning Management Systems (LMS), Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS), Rapid Authoring Tools, and other Software Applications that help create learning resources. Organizations may have a dedicated person to take charge of the LMS. However, training managers need to have a good knowledge about the capabilities of an LMS and other technological tools so that they are able to use them effectively for the training purposes.

As depicted in the TPACK framework, these components work in tandem with each other. Let’s see how they are inter-dependent.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK): This refers to the ability of training managers or instructors to present the content such that knowledge is effectively shared keeping in mind the learning preferences and styles of the learners. The instructional methodology has to be aligned with the content type. Effective learning objectives have to be framed. Assessments have to be developed based on the learning objectives. Content has to be analyzed to ensure that it is relevant to the target learners, and finally, learning modules have to be developed. The instructional strategy that is developed depends on the training content and content type, and therefore, training managers need to have the pedagogical content knowledge.

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK): Once the instructional strategy is finalized, technological tools have to be selected to execute the training program. In case of classroom training, training managers need to understand how technology works in the classroom. What are the tools available that can be capitalized to enhance classroom interaction? At the same time, training managers need to understand how classroom training can be blended with online training or e-learning to provide a more holistic and comprehensive learning experience to learners. They also need to know the tools that best work for the given content and learning objectives. For example, simulations work best for software training and Captivate could be a useful tool for the purpose. Training managers need to have an idea of the tools that best work for a given content. Therefore, they need to possess Technological Content Knowledge.

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK): At the same time, training managers need to have a good understanding about different authoring tools and technological resources so that they are able to use the right one for a given learning need. For example, if a sales person requires just-in-time learning, small learning bytes in the form of videos that can be accessed by the sales person via mobile devices could be a good option. Similarly, podcasts can be used as a part of employee induction training where messages from senior management or motivational talks can be delivered to employees or newly hired sales team. So, in today’s context, training managers need to widen their pedagogical and instructional design strategy to include technological tools for training delivery.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): Finally, training managers need to understand the interplay of the three components – content, technology and pedagogy i.e. the instructional strategy and how best they can be blended to form a holistic training curriculum. For example, content that is showing a process or procedure is best depicted in a form of a video or an animation. This is best developed using a particular authoring tool. Content knowledge helps in analyzing the content type and developing an instructional strategy that is ideal to share the content knowledge. Technological knowledge helps in selecting the authoring tool and pedagogical knowledge helps in developing the right instructional strategy (video/animation) for a given content. It also helps in formulating the right training strategy as content will have to be evaluated to define what goes into classroom training and what can be used for developing online training modules and resources.

So, if today’s training managers need to develop technology-enabled training curriculums, they need to have the knowledge as laid out by the TPACK framework. Technology has become an essential component in addition to the pedagogical and content knowledge.

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