Improving Students' TPaCK Through Learning Labs : The Implementation of Ichemlab and Steam Makerspace
Digitalization transformation has so far had an impact on most aspects of life by now, and it is linked to a comprehensive societal transformation. It is broadly accepted that future citizens will substantially need information and media literacy to not only participate effectively in societal and political processes but also to succeed in the working field. Schools are therefore obliged to equip students with necessary media competencies. Corresponding standards for media literacy of future citizens have been proposed (e.g., Vuorikari et al., 2016), and corresponding elements are being integrated in school curricula worldwide. As a result, teachers need both: they have to teach the required media literacy and they also need pedagogical competencies to teach students the necessary knowledge and skills. The TPACK model (Koehler & Mishra, 2009) specifies the competencies needed by teachers. Standards have also been proposed in this context (Wilson, et al. 2011), but there appears to be a lack on approaches to teach media skills in the context of a specific subject. Furthermore, the integration of corresponding elements into teacher education appears to lack behind the necessities outlined above. One reason for this can be seen in the difficulty to integrate corresponding components of media literacy and media pedagogy into existing curricula, given both the complexity of this task and the diversity of stakeholders involved in teacher education. In this paper we present an approach to integrate teaching media literacy, media pedagogy, and technological-pedagogical content knowledge into an existing teacher education programme. This programme is consistently based on the concept of learning labs. We specifically designed two labs, both linked to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) education. The so-called iChemLab and the STEAM Makerspace are intertwined with and integrated into the programme. These labs are to enable students, who are still in their first phase of teacher education, to explore media-related teaching approaches. In these labs, students can design, implement and evaluate digital learning material and thus foster their TPACK-skills. The iChemLab is based on the concept of a German Schuelerlabor (pupils’ laboratory) in which pupils use the method of inquiry-based learning. In this lab, the students supervise the learning progress of pupils in digitally enhanced learning scenarios. Simultaneously they learn to apply digital media effectively and to provide support (Hempelmann, 2014). The STEAM Makerspace is based on the idea of makerspaces, but has a strong pedagogical focus (e.g., Kurti, Kurti, & Fleming, 2014). It is based on constructivism and thus an approach to learning as an active process that is most successful when experiencing and creating an own mental and/or also physical construct of the learning material. Therefore this lab provides the opportunity to design, implement and evaluate digital learning media to be applied in teaching situations, based on pedagogical and psychological theories.