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Res Sci Educ

DOI 10.1007/s11165-015-9501-y

Science Teacher Education in the Twenty-First Century:


a Pedagogical Framework for Technology-Integrated
Social Constructivism
Miri Barak 1

# Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Abstract Changes in our global world have shifted the skill demands from acquisition
of structured knowledge to mastery of skills, often referred to as twenty-first century
competencies. Given these changes, a sequential explanatory mixed methods study
was undertaken to (a) examine predominant instructional methods and technologies
used by teacher educators, (b) identify attributes for learning and teaching in the
twenty-first century, and (c) develop a pedagogical framework for promoting meaningful usage of advanced technologies. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected via an online survey, personal interviews, and written reflections with science
teacher educators and student teachers. Findings indicated that teacher educators do
not provide sufficient models for the promotion of reform-based practice via web 2.0
environments, such as Wikis, blogs, social networks, or other cloud technologies.
Findings also indicated four attributes for teaching and learning in the twenty-first
century: (a) adapting to frequent changes and uncertain situations, (b) collaborating
and communicating in decentralized environments, (c) generating data and managing
information, and (d) releasing control by encouraging exploration. Guided by social
constructivist paradigms and twenty-first century teaching attributes, this study suggests a pedagogical framework for fostering meaningful usage of advanced technologies in science teacher education courses.
Keywords Twenty-first century competencies . Cloud applications . Social constructivism .
Science teacher education . Technology-integrated learning

* Miri Barak
bmiriam@technion.ac.il
1

The Department of Education in Science and Technology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology,


Haifa 320003, Israel

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Introduction
Due to rapid advancement in digital technologies and changes in the way communication and
information flows, the twenty-first century is perceived as an era of transformations and reforms. In
the past decade, experts in science education and policy makers have emphasized the need for
advancing science and technology education (NGSS Lead States 2013; NRC 2012a). There is a
growing interest among educators in the development of twenty-first century competencies and their
assimilation in science classrooms, in particular, competencies that are associated with the science
education guidelines and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013). Such
competencies are problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and information
literacy. These guidelines encourage science literacy through the use of constructivist and socialconstructivist approaches, emphasizing student-centered instruction, collaboration, and inquirybased learning (NGSS Lead States 2013; NRC 2012b). The new guidelines to teaching science
require substantial changes in teachers education and practice. However, new practices are not
easily implemented and many science teachers still practice teacher-centered and lecture-based
instruction (Barak 2014; Bell et al. 2013).
There are several barriers to effective implementation of new practices in science education.
In some cases, science teachers lack the motivation and/or resources (time, computers, learning
materials, etc.) to make the necessary changes (Bell et al. 2013). But in many cases, science
teachers refrain from applying new practices because they themselves had little exposure to
advanced instructional methods while learning science or engineering at university
(Jimoyiannis 2010; Johnson 2006). At university, students are mostly subjected to traditional
teaching that includes lectures, exercise sessions, and laboratory work. It is therefore the
responsibility of teacher educators to set better examples for innovative ways for teaching.
Using the framework of social constructivism, this study was undertaken to examine the
instructional technologies used by science teacher educators in higher education and to
develop a pedagogical framework that harnesses the strength of advanced technologies for
promoting reform-based practices among pre-service science teachers. The studys main goal
was to develop a pedagogical framework for preparing science education students to teach in
the twenty-first century. Our underpinning assumption was that allowing pre-service teachers
to experience the use of advanced cloud-based technologies and pedagogy, they will be better
prepared to teach in schools in the era of transformations and reforms.

Theoretical Background and Literature Review


This section includes three parts. The first presents the researchs theoretical framework, which
is based on social constructivist perspectives. The second part describes teacher education in
the twenty-first century, raising the concern that student teachers are not sufficiently exposed to
social constructivist approaches for promoting meaningful usage of advanced technologies.
The third part discusses web-based cloud applications as a new frontier in teacher education
programs for enhancing reform-based instruction.

Social Constructivism
Social constructivist perspectives on learning maintain that cognitive development is a social
process and reject the idea that it is an individual process (Atwater 1996; Lemke 2001;

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Palincsar 1998; Rogoff 1998). Accordingly, learning is viewed as a social, cultural, and
motivational process, derived from subconscious discourse and communication with people
who are meaningful to the learner (Lemke 2001; Rogoff 1998). Learning relies on significant
relationships in two facets: learning with fellow students and learning with a skillful partner,
such as a teacher or instructor (Palincsar 1998; Palmer 2005). Social constructivism includes a
variety of theories and approaches, such as Vygotskys sociocultural theory (1978); Piagets
(1985), sociocognitive conflict theory and Banduras (1986) social cognitive theory. The
following paragraphs present a short description of each theory.
Sociocultural theory is a prominent learning theory based on the work of Vygotsky (1978) and
extended by others (Lemke 2001; Palincsar 1998; Wertsch 1991). It maintains three main suppositions: the origins of higher mental functions are found in social interactions; learning occurs while
using mediator tools and signs, such as spoken and written words; and learners can advance within
the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) by mediation (Lemke 2001; Wertsch 1991). ZPD is
conceptualized as the distance between a persons cognitive development level as determined by
independent learning and the level of potential cognitive development as determined through
collaboration with peers. According to Vygotskys (1978), ZPD includes the variety of cognitive
operations that a person cannot achieve independently, only with assistance from others.
Socioculturalism focuses on the unity and interdependence of learning and development. Accordingly, learning processes that involve peer interactions challenge the learner to think at a higher level
and move forward to the next cognitive development stage.
Piagets (1985), sociocognitive conflict theory maintains that cognitive conflict, created by
social interaction, is the locus at which knowledge is developed. Sociocognitive conflicts allow
students to become conscious of the relativity and weaknesses of their conceptions as well as
acquire techniques for communicating and negotiating with and about the knowledge they
possess. Differences in learners perceptions and/or gaps between learners existing understanding give rise to a cognitive imbalance, which, in turn, may lead the learner to question
her/his ideas, modify existing ideas, or adopt new ones. The development of new understanding can be explained by cognitive dissonance, generated through interactions with peers
(Palincsar 1998). Accordingly, social interactions that create cognitive conflicts and disagreements are perceived to be the engine driving intellectual development.
While sociocultural theory highlights interactions with emphasis on the exchange of spoken and
written words, and sociocognitive conflict theory highlights cognitive conflicts, social cognitive
theory emphasizes behavioral and environmental factors as the promoter of learners cognitive
development (Bandura 1986). According to this view, learning is shaped by factors within the
learning environment as well as by learners own thoughts and self-beliefs. Learners have the ability
to monitor, control, and change the learning environment and their own behavior in a purposeful
way, according to predefined goals (Bandura 2001). The theory was initially developed with an
emphasis on the acquisition of social behaviors, indicating how people learn through observation of
models. Accordingly, observational learners go through four stages: attention, retention, production,
and motivation. Learning is viewed as most effective when students monitor and control their
motivation and behavior.
Social constructivists believe that interpersonal dynamics and subconscious discourse enhance
cognitive change. They also believe that for meaningful learning, learners should share knowledge
and be actively engaged in large or small groups (Barak and Rafaeli 2004; Ben-Zvi Assaraf 2011;
Palincsar 1998). In the context of science education, social constructivism asserts that meaningful
learning occurs though collaboration and interchange of scientific ideas (Barak and Dori 2009;
Ben-Zvi Assaraf 2011; Palincsar 1998). Taylor and Cox (1997) describe how socially assisted

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learning that included peer collaboration, reflective questioning, shared ownership, and feedback,
resulted in higher learning achievements, compared to a control group. In addition, scientific literacy
and higher order thinking can be developed through discourse among learners and collaborative
assignments (Atwater 1996; Barak et al. 2007).
Science teachers with a social constructivist perspective can provide instruction that
facilitates deep learning and conceptual change (Atwater 1996). Science teachers are therefore
encouraged to apply a social constructivist curriculum that support interactions among
learners, scaffolding, and inner discourse (Atwater 1996; Barak and Dori 2009). From this
perspective, the role of the science teacher has been expanded from that of an information
transmitter to include the role of facilitator to challenge ideas and negotiate meaning through
multiple interactions among students (Bell et al. 2013; Palmer 2005). In light of the aforesaid,
in this study, social constructivism provided the benchmark for examining contemporary
predominant instructional methods and technologies used by science and technology teachers.
It also provided the pedagogical framework for promoting meaningful usage of advanced
technologies in the twenty-first century classroom.

Twenty-first Century Competencies and Teacher Education


Changes in the labor market in developed countries have shifted the requirements of many jobs
from the acquisition of structured knowledge to the mastery of tools and learning skills, often
referred to as twenty-first century skills or competencies (Griffin et al. 2012; NRC 2012a).
Focusing on education, it seems that todays teachers have an almost impossible taskto
prepare students to become contributing citizens and workers in a world that does not yet exist
and cannot yet be clearly defined. That is why an emphasis on what students can do with
knowledge, rather than how many learning units they acquire, has become an important aspect
of contemporary education (Barak 2014; Griffin et al. 2012; NGSS Lead States 2013).
Over the past decade, the phrase 21st Century Learning has become an integral part of
educational discourse (Griffin et al. 2012; NRC 2012a). Educationalists suggest that instruction
should be reformed to emphasize higher order cognitive processes, such as critical thinking, creative
and innovative thinking, inquiry and problem solving, information literacy, reasoning, and argumentation (Griffin et al. 2012; OECD 2013). They also suggest emphasizing intrapersonal skills,
such as intellectual openness, work ethic, and self-evaluation; as well as interpersonal skills, such as
communication and collaboration (NRC 2012a). The frameworks for twenty-first century skills
encourage social learning, highlighting teamwork, knowledge sharing, and peer assessment (Griffin
et al. 2012; NRC 2012b). Social contexts for learning make learners thinking apparent to teachers
and peers so that it can be examined, questioned, and built on (NRC 2012a).
Critics of the twenty-first century learning argue that it is an empty signifier, unclear as to
exactly what it actually means. For example, Mishra and Kereluik (2011) presented a critical
review of the literature on the twenty-first century learning by conducting a comparative
analysis of ten differing frameworks. Their study indicated that despite the fact that many of
these skills are not exclusive to the twenty-first century era, there are two key skills that are
uniquely important. These skills are information literacy and cultural competence which relate
to the use of advanced technologies (Mishra and Kereluik 2011). Indeed, the social impact of
the Internet and digital media takes on a new importance in the age of globalization (Griffin
et al. 2012; NRC 2012a).
Following the call for reforms in teaching and learning (Griffin et al. 2012; NRC 2012a),
science teacher education programs should actively engage student teachers in promoting

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cognitive and social competencies with emphasis on advanced technologies. It is the role of
science teacher educators to encourage and inspire reform-based practices and set good examples
for educational innovations (Barak 2014). The professional experience of teacher educators can
provide a pathway for transforming traditional practices to constructivist and social-constructivist
approaches. However, in many science education programs, students spend more time learning in
regular lecture halls, exposed to traditional teaching rather than practicing strategies that may
develop deep scientific understanding (Barak et al. 2006; Jimoyiannis 2010).
Over the past two decades, studies have indicated that information and communication
technologies (ICTs) can support cognitive development essential for deep learning (Bell
et al. 2013; Jimoyiannis 2010). However, there are teacher educators, teachers, and students
that still practice traditional instruction methods (Barak 2014; Bell et al. 2013; Johnson
2006). This situation can largely be explained by disinclination to change familiar instructional approaches (Romeo et al. 2012). This study was therefore undertaken to examine
science teacher educators predominant instructional technologies, in the context of teacher
education in Israel. Guided by international reports (Griffin et al. 2012; NRC 2012a; OECD
2013), this study also sought to identify attributes for teaching and learning in the twentyfirst century. The study focused on significant attributes that should be practiced in teacher
education programs.

Cloud Applications: Expanding Teacher Education Borders


Information and communication technologies are changing as they migrate into the cloudthe
ubiquitous online world of computer networks. Such cloud computing was defined by the
National Institute of Standards and Technology as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g.,
networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) (Mell and Grance 2011). Following this
trend, cloud learning environments (CLEs), including web 2.0 applications, are gradually
gaining ground over traditional learning management systems (LMS) by facilitating both
personal and collaborative learning environments (Chao 2012). Cloud applications are unique
in their ability to facilitate real-time collaborative writing, where several users can write and
edit the same file simultaneously. Examples for cloud applications are the following: Google
Drive (www.google.com) for generating documents, Prezi (www.prezi.com) for creating
presentations, and Koding (www.koding.com) for developing software.
In discussing the implications of cloud applications for science education, reform-based
pedagogy can be expanded to view students as active learners and creators of knowledge. With
the use of cloud applications and mobile devices, not only can learning be taken out of the
classroom but can also enable learner-driven and socially constructed curricula (Chao 2012).
Research on cloud applications for real-time collaborative learning is still in its initial stages
(Berenfeld and Yazijian 2010). The potential of such applications for fostering social constructive learning in science teacher education programs has not yet been fully examined.

Research Goal
This study is the first part of a longitudinal research project that was initiated to develop and
evaluate a pedagogical framework for technology-integrated social constructivism. The current
study describes the rationale that led to the development of the pedagogical framework, its

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design, and implementation. Further study is now being conducted among additional courses
in science education for reinforcing external validity and strengthening the generalization of
results across a larger number of participants.
The main goal of the study reported here was to develop a pedagogical framework
for preparing science education students to teach in the twenty-first century. The
operative aim was threefold: to examine predominant instructional methods that
teacher educators apply; to identify significant attributes for teaching and learning in
the twenty-first century; and to develop a social constructivist pedagogical framework
for promoting meaningful usage of advanced technologies. These aims raised the
following research questions:
1. What are the predominant instructional technologies and methods that lecturers in teacher
education institutions apply?
2. What are the significant attributes for teaching and learning that should be practiced in
contemporary teacher education programs according to the teacher educators?
3. What characterizes a pedagogical framework that is based on the integration of social
constructivism and cloud technologies?

Method
The study included two parts: Exploration and Implementation. The first part, Exploration,
examined the predominant instructional technologies and methods used by teacher educators
from humanities and science education. The second part, Implementation, included the design
and development of the social constructivist pedagogical framework, entitled cloud pedagogy,
set to integrate twenty-first century competencies into the curriculum of science teacher
courses. The pedagogical framework was implemented in a 14-week-long course entitled
Methods of Teaching Science and Technology. This course was selected as an exemplary
course since it is a mandatory course and the students come from diverse science and
engineering backgrounds. The course objective was to promote the understanding of science
teaching in middle schools with an emphasis on the integration of advanced educational
technologies. The course topics were: energy, forces and motion, materials, living organisms,
and environmental science, emphasizing multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to science
education.

Participants
The study included 63 teacher educators who participated in the Exploration part of the
study and 52 science student teachers who participated in the Implementation part. Table 1
presents the participants demographic data according to gender, academic discipline, and
experience in teaching. It also includes participants self-report data about their level of
expertise in ICT: novicethose who are somewhat familiar with educational ICTs and
rarely use them; experiencedthose who are familiar with educational ICTs, somewhat
interested in learning more about new technologies, and use them when necessary; and
expertthose who are very familiar with educational ICTs, very interested in learning
more about new technologies, and frequently use them for teaching. Participants demographics and academic background distribution are presented in Table 1.

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Methodology and Tools


This study was based on a sequential explanatory mixed methods design in which the research
begins with a quantitative phase and follows up on specific results with a qualitative phase
(Creswell and Plano Clark 2007). The research tools in the Exploration part of the study
included an online survey followed by personal interviews. The online survey was administered among the teacher educators to examine the predominant instructional technologies and
methods that they apply. It included three close-ended questions:
1. How often do you use the following technologies in your courses?
2. How often do you expect student teachers to use the following technologies?
3. How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about the
use of advanced educational technologies?
Each question included eight items, representing different instructional technologies and
methods, on a five-point Likert-type scale (Appendix A). The questionnaires internal consistency was assessed by Cronbachs alpha coefficient for question 3 (=0.78). Questions 1 and
2 were not assessed since they measured frequency of technology usage and not attitudes. The
categorical variables were statistically analyzed using Wilcoxon Signed Ranks and KruskalWallis one-way ANOVA, both non-parametric tests.
Among the teacher educators participating in the Exploration part of the study (n=63), 12
experts in advanced educational technologies were interviewed to identify key attributes for
teaching and learning in the twenty-first century. A general interview guide approach was
applied by presenting very general and broad questions to allow a guided but flexible
conversational interview (Gall et al. 2003). The teacher educators were asked to answer the
following questions: (1) Considering the various reports on competencies needed for learning
and working in the twenty-first century, divided into three key domainscognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal (Griffin et al. 2012; NRC 2012a), from your experience as a teacher

Table 1 Participants academic background and demographic data


Demographics
Gender
Academic discipline

Experience in teaching

ICT expertise

% Teacher educators (n=63)

% Student teachers (n=52)

Female

53

70

Male

47

30

Science

24

64

Tech. and Eng.


Mathematics

11
27

36

Humanities

38

None

87

13 years

24

13

410 years

35

Over 11 years

41

Novice

21

Experienced
Expert

44
35

35
56

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educator, what are the key attributes for teaching and learning in the twenty-first century?
(2) Why are they essential in our era? (3) Explain your answers and provide examples.
The interviews among the teacher educators were conducted by the author, taking
30-to-45 min. The data were collected via researcher-logs and audio-tape recorders. In
order to strengthen the validity, a second interviewer collected data in 60 % of the
interviews, depending on the interviewees consent. The transcripts were analyzed
from a descriptive-interpretive perspective while applying the general inductive approach (Thomas 2006).
The research tools in the Implementation part of the study included written reflections
and personal interviews. Both tools were administered among science student teachers to
examine their views about the pedagogical framework. The reflections were written by
52 student teachers at the last session of the course. The personal interviews were
administered a month after the course ended, according to student teachers availability
and consent. Among those who were willing to participate, 13 student teachers were
selected as a representative sample of the course population. Directed by the general
interview guide approach (Gall et al. 2003), the student teachers were asked to answer
the following general questions:
a. Describe your learning experience in terms of group activities, accomplishments, and
difficulties. Relate your answer to each component of the social constructivist pedagogical
framework.
b. Have you experienced the need to adapt to frequent changes? Collaborate in a
decentralized environment? Generate data and manage information? Release control
and encourage exploration? Explain your answers and provide examples.
c. Will you apply this pedagogical frameworkstudio instruction, embedded assessment,
and cloud applicationsin future teaching? If yes, in what way? If no, why?
The interviews took 30-to-45 min, using researcher-logs and audio-tape recorders for
data collection. Unlike the interviews in the first part of the study, the interviews in this
part were analyzed according to the deductive (not inductive) content analysis approach
(Hsieh and Shannon 2005). They were conducted to validate the key attributes for
teaching and learning in the 21st century that were identified in the first part of the
study. For the analysis process, the author, together with a research assistant, read the
texts a number of times and highlighted sentences that indicated student teachers views
about the social constructivist pedagogical framework. The data supporting the categories were gathered and re-divided into emerging sub-categories. Differences between
researchers during the joint categorization process were discussed by three researchers
until full agreement was reached.

Findings
This section includes three parts, each addresses one of the research questions. The first two
parts describe the predominant instructional technologies and methods that teacher educators
apply, and the four attributes they identified for learning and teaching in the twenty-first
century. The third part provides a description of the social constructivist pedagogical framework and students views about it.

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Predominant Instructional Technologies and Methods


Data indicated that most teacher educators (74 %) teach face-to-face, on-campus courses. The rest
(26 %) teach hybrid courses (combination of face-to-face and distance learning sessions) and/or full
distance learning courses. All teacher educators use a LMS to organize the learning materials.
Almost 50 % of them use online simulations, and almost 40 % use asynchronous online forums.
Generating and sharing contents via web 2.0 technologies, such as Wiki, blogs, social networks,
Google drive, and other cloud applications, is much less popular (45 to 25 %).
When comparing teacher educators usage of technologies with their expectations of the student
teachers, an interesting gap is noted. Findings indicated that teacher educators from all disciplines
expect their students to use technologies more often than actually practiced in teacher education
courses (Fig. 1). A Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test indicated that the two sets of scores differed
significantly with relation to the following technologies: Wiki or blogs (Z=6.15, p<0.001), social
networks (Z=6.20, p<0.001), online synchronous meetings (Z=5.90, p<0.001), and Google drive
(Z=6.45, p<0.001).
Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA was used to compare the findings for teacher educators from
four disciplines: science, engineering, math, and humanities. Teacher educators in engineering
indicated a tendency to use LMS less frequently than teacher educators in other disciplines
(2(3)=8.70, p<0.05). Teacher educators in science, engineering, and math indicated a higher
tendency to use simulations in teaching and less tendency to use social networks (2(3)=9.40,
p<0.05), compared to teacher educators from humanities (literature, languages, and history).
Not surprisingly, findings indicated that teacher educators who are ICT experts use advanced
technologies in their teaching more often than their peers (Fig. 2). Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA
indicated that these differences were statistically significant at 95 %, except for the use of a LMS. In
this case no significant difference was found, indicating that all teacher educators, even ICT novices,
use LMS in all of their courses.
Data indicated that more than 70 % of the teacher educators believe that the use of advanced
technologies is suitable for the discipline they teach; that it corresponds with their teaching

Fig. 1 Teacher educators usage of technologies and their expectations from student teachers, *p<0.001

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philosophy; and that it has potential to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
However, less than 50 % believe that technologies can enhance the communication
between teachers and students and among the students themselves. In addition, less than
50 % feel that they have sufficient pedagogical knowledge to efficiently integrate ICTs in
their courses, or that they have the required technical knowledge. Data indicated that
among the teacher educators, five (8 %) cling systematically to traditional face-to-face
practices with no inclination for change.
No statistically significant differences were found among teacher educators from different
disciplines related to their attitudes about the use of technologies. However, teacher educators
with teaching experience of more than 10 years indicated greater concern about not having the
required technological knowledge. This difference was statistically significant (2(2)=10.70,
p<0.001). Conversely, teacher educators with teaching experience of only one-to-four years
indicated greater concern about not having sufficient pedagogical knowledge, although the
statistical significance of this difference was not strong (2(2)=5.90, p=0.052). Findings
indicated that the use of advanced technologies matches the teaching philosophy of teacher
educators who are ICT experts, significantly more strongly than their peers (2(2)=6.50,
p<0.05). The ICT experts indicated high confidence about having sufficient pedagogical and
technological knowledge to efficiently integrate ICT in their courses compared to their peers
(2(2)=38.40, p<0.001).
The above results led to a series of interviews among teacher educators who are also ICT experts,
to identify key attributes for teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.

Significant Attributes for Teaching and Learning in the Twenty-First Century,


According to Teacher Educators
Content analysis of teacher educators interviews identified four essential attributes for teacher
education in general and science teacher education in particular. Selected assertions are presented in
the next paragraphs:

Fig. 2 Comparing teacher educators relative usage of technologies, by ICT expertise

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A. Adapting to frequent changes and uncertain situationsunderstanding that we live in an era of


transformations and reforms, and in a multi-cultural society, and that being able to learn from
each other and maintain lifelong learning in formal and informal educational environments.
According to R.B., a science teacher educator with 15 years of experience: Everything is
changing around us, especially the technology. We started teaching with desktop computers
and we were so excited when a new software for computerized molecular models was
distributed on floppy disks. Now we have very sophisticated animations and simulations free
on the web Science teachers should accept the idea that the world is developing rapidly and
be able to efficiently implement innovations in their teaching and learning.
Similarly, C.O., a math teacher educator with 6 years of experience, asserted: Our students
should be able to adapt to frequent changes. As years go by, the gap between one innovation
to the next is closing my students should be more open to new ideas, and continue studying
all their lives.
S.D., a computer science teacher educator with 13 years of experience, asserted: Today we
need to work in changing environments. Look at the cloud model for example. The service
provider upgrades the version of the application you are working on without notice. It
happened to my students while they were using Google forms they had no choice but to
adapt and continue working.
B. Did you experience the feeling of: Adapting to changes? Collaborating in online environments? Creating web-pages and managing loads of information? Encouraging free
exploration? Explain your answers and provide examples.
I.L., a science teacher educator with 8 years of experience, said: if you ask me, collaboration is one of the most important skills my students should acquire. More and more
computer applications have the share button. However, working together, at the same
time, all at once, on the same document, can be confusing and chaotic. For effective
outcomes, people need to know how to manage their work in nonhierarchical systems, where
everyone can contribute in an equal manner.
Similarly, A.D., a science teacher educator with 5 years of experience, asserted that: Nowadays, my students have wonderful opportunities to use various technologies for communicating with each other. I encourage them to use Google docs for writing collaborative
documents, and Facebook to share ideas, ask questions, and provide answers. We hardly
use structured LMS anymore.
R.B. asserted: Today, with the advancement of technology we have tools and means for
working in collaboration without the limitation of time and place. The use of cloud
applications such as A.nnotate allows my students to write their annotations and share
them on the same article at the same time. Such applications allow collaboration and
communication outside the classroom walls. Still, they need to be very organized in order
to work efficiently.
C. Generating data and managing informationemphasizing the creation and design of ones
own learning materials and environments to accommodate individual needs.
O.P., a science teacher educator with 12 years of experience, asserted that: As we all know,
information is growing in an exponential way. In order to succeed in the workplace, it is not
enough to manage data. My students will also need to create their own resources (articles,
presentations, webpages, etc.) and disseminate them, using up-to-date tools.

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A.K., a math teacher educator with 13 years of experience, asserted that: Learners need to
manage a huge amount of information. One can literally find everything on the web. Students
need to be able to validate the information, manage it, and create their own entries and posts.
S.D. discussed the use of thin client devices: It is important to harness personal
devices such as smart phones and i-pods The use of such devices for
education makes learning more personal and relevant for the learner. They
can take relevant pictures, create animations, and design learning games they
control their own learning environment.
D. Releasing control by encouraging explorationbeing able to openly and fearlessly
explore new venues, uncover information and relationships that are new to the learner,
discover unexpected lessons, make mistakes, and learn from them.
E.M., a science teacher educator with 7 years of experience, asserted that: Teachers
should be prepared to be surprised, not knowing in advance all the answers and be
prepared to act accordingly. Teachers nowadays should not be trained to lead the way
to the students but to allow them to explore different paths. This requires a lot of
knowledge, experience, and confidence on behalf of the teacher. They should be able
to evaluate risks, minimize them, and allow students to experience the real world.
Likewise, O.P. asserted that: The ability to explore new venues, to encourage students to
leave the classroom and not to be afraid to explore unfamiliar grounds, this is one of the
most important attributes for teaching and learning in the 21st century.
R.B. asserted that: It is important that teachers release control. They need to understand
that they do not have to manage the students but to help them better develop cognitively
and socially. This can be done if students have the opportunity to discover unexpected
information, make mistakes, and learn from them.
All the ICT experts emphasized the need for efficient use of advanced technologies, especially
the use of web-based cloud applications, for enhancing active and collaborative learning. This view
guided the design and development of a social constructivist pedagogical framework for promoting
meaningful usage of advanced technologies.

A Technology-Integrated Social Constructivist Pedagogical Framework


Corresponding with the findings described in the previous section, this section introduces the
pedagogical framework that was designed to harness advanced technologies for social constructive
teaching and learning. The design was based on the belief that learning is a social process; therefore,
interactions among learners, co-construction of content, exploration of new venues, peer-assessment,
and high engagement were considered essential to its structure. The pedagogical framework was
designed to enhance student-centered learning while promoting authentic and interactive learning
activities. Based on these principles, the pedagogical framework was designed in two layersthe
social constructivism layer and the techno-instructional layerwith the learner is in the center of
both. This framework highlights the idea that no matter what the content is or the current advanced
technologies, the learner and his/her interactions with others are the center of the instructional
process (Fig. 3).
The first layer, the social constructivism layer, includes four principles which follow one or
more of the teaching and learning attributes identified in the Exploration part of this study.

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1. Exploring new venuesencouraging students to acquire knowledge by investigating,


experiencing, and discovering places, people, and new information, inside and outside
the classroom. This allows students to be actively involved in the learning process, in
formal and informal learning situations. In addition, this enables the teacher to act as a
guide on the side allowing students to make mistakes and learn from them. This
principle is related to the attribute of: releasing control and encouraging exploration.
2. Increasing engagementencouraging students to interact with close and distant peers, and
be engaged with their close community as well as communities from other institutions and
countries. Such an experience can be augmented when performed together with peers,
since each student has her own cultural background and viewpoint. This emphasizes the
importance of learning from one another and adopting new ideas in various settings. This
principle is related to the attribute of: adapting to changes and uncertain situations.
3. Co-constructing contentencouraging students to construct science-related content with
peers by writing original essays, producing creative video-clips, and preparing colorful
presentations. In this process, students verbalize personal ideas and present their own
thoughts. They might encounter conflicting ideas, but they are expected to reach agreement among their peers in order to achieve a mutual goal. This principle is related to the
attribute of: generating data and managing information.
4. Providing and receiving feedbackencouraging students to think critically and to undertake
critique, providing respectful and constructive feedback to their peers. Students should be able
to take part in a peer-assessment process, to receive critique, and learn how to benefit from it.
Peer-assessment can be implemented not only among students from the same classroom or
course but also among peers from different schools and countries. This principle is related to
the attribute of: collaborating and communicating in decentralized environments.

Fig. 3 The cloud pedagogical framework: the social constructivism inner layer and the techno-instructional outer
layer

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The second layer, the techno-instructional layer, details how the social constructivist
principles, described above, can be implemented in a hybrid learning environment by using
a distinctive teaching method, assessment approach, and learning environment. Accordingly,
this layer includes three components: studio instruction, embedded assessment, and cloud
applications, as detailed below.
I. Studio instructionan instructional method that consists of short lecture sessions
interchanged with long periods of active learning. In the short lecture session, 20-to30 min long, the lecturer explains one or two main concepts. Then after, the lecturer
gives a class assignment that encourages the implementation of the new concepts,
and so the active learning session begins. In the active learning sessions, about
30 min long, the lecturer acts as a guide, encouraging students to express new ideas
and ask questions (Barak et al. 2006). This approach makes no distinction between
the instructional methods and the content that is central to scientific practice. It is
aligned with the constructivism approach since it instigates active, hands-on, experiential, and collaborative learning (Steffe and Gale 1995). In studio-based learning,
learners are engaged in assignments that require inquiry and problem-solving skills
(Barak et al. 2006; Rowe 1987). Students propose solutions through the design of
artifacts, which may be physical, textual, and/or conceptual. Through discourse,
students experience failure and improvement, thus constructing knowledge and
conceptual understanding (Rowe 1987).
II. Embedded assessmentan assessment approach that includes both formative and summative evaluations, embedded in and linked to learning activities. It is a collection of
assessment tools that are administrated at different points throughout a course, facilitating
the process of self-discovery of strengths and weakness (Barak and Dori 2009; Segers
et al. 2003). It is based on the idea that assessment is conducted for learning and not of
learning (Black and Wiliam 1998), namely, that knowledge is constructed during the
assessment process and that students discover knowledge for themselves. Following a
continuous process of feedback from the teacher and peers, the students can refine their
work and resubmit a better and improved outcome. This assessment approach acknowledges the diverse academic, cultural, and social needs of learners as well as the context in
which the learning occurs. It has potential to scaffold effective learning and high achievement (Barak and Dori 2009; Segers et al. 2003).
III. Cloud applicationsare conceptualized as a unique family of ICT tools that allow
synchronized collaborative learning in digital environments (Chao 2012). Cloud
applications facilitate real-time collaborative writing and editing where several users
can simultaneously work on the same file. Since they are browser-based applications,
there is no need for local installation, and they can be used on mobile and thin
devices. They facilitate studio instruction since they enable active and experiential
learning. Teachers, as shared editors, can track students progress and provide realtime feedback.
As a case test, this pedagogical framework was implemented in a course entitled:
Methods of Teaching Science and Technology, which included 52 science student teachers.
The students were divided by the instructors into 13 heterogeneous groups of four. Each
group included students from diverse STEM disciplines, teaching experience, and ICT
expertise. The students were not familiar with each other at the beginning of the semester

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and they had to learn new content and work with new and advanced technologies. Their
learning environment included a physical environmentthe classroom, and a virtual
environmenta Google document that was used as a digital binder for producing
and displaying all their learning assignments. In this course, the learning assignments
included the following: a literature review on a scientific concept or principle (i.e., heat
balance, energy conservation, water purification, blood flow), the design of an inquirybased laboratory experiment, the design of a learning game, the production of a short
video clip (see Fig. 4), and a digital mind-map that summarized related concepts. The
digital binder, in the form of a shared Google doc, allowed the teaching team to provide
constructive comments and timely formative feedback. The digital binder served as a
collection of text, photos, and links to web-based audio and video recordings that each
group of students co-created.
At the end of the 14-week semester, the science student teachers were asked to
express their views about the pedagogical framework that they experienced as students. A deductive content analysis of the personal interviews and written reflections
identified all four attributes of the framework within the students learning experience.
Selected examples are presented in the paragraphs below. All names are pseudonyms.

Fig. 4 Examples of students videos of laboratory experiments: a seed germination; b water purification; c water
uptake in plants; d states of matter

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A. Adapting to frequent changes and uncertain situations


Marsha, a bio-chemistry major with no teaching experience, asserted that: In a constantly changing world, there is a need to move away from mental fixation and broaden
our horizons. there is a need to open our eyes and look at different directions of doing
things, to think creatively, think in a flexible way. (Marsha, written reflection)
Shalom, a physics major with no teaching experience, asserted that: The course opened
a wide world of content and tools that I did not know about. It changed my perspective
about teaching and now I understand that I need to act more as a guide and less as a
lecturer (Shalom, written reflection)
The students assertions suggested that they understood the need for adapting to changes.
By exposing student teachers to changes, such as from lecture to studio-based instruction, from
individual to collaborative learning, from LMS to cloud-based technologies, and from summative to embedded assessment, we encourage them to think and act in more flexible ways.
B. Collaborating and communicating in decentralized environments
Rachel, a science major with no teaching experience, stated: This is one of the most
interesting courses I took. It was very informative. It did not focus only on the
technological tools, but it also emphasized science contents, and how to work in groups,
in collaboration with future teachers from different disciplines. The combination of
people from different fields in one group is very interesting, educational, and successful,
in my opinion. (Rachel, written reflection)
Jacob, a computer engineer with no teaching experience, stated: The experience of working
in a heterogeneous group (a feeling that I am familiar with after working 25 years in the
high-tech industry) is challenging. It requires critical, innovative, and creative thinking
the course is very relevant for the 21st century. (Jacob, written reflection)
The students experienced the complexity of working in a group and recognized its
importance. They understood the importance of being able to communicate and collaborate
with fellow learners, in close and more distant contexts.
C. Generating data and managing information
Nina, a science major with no teaching experience, asserted that: The course demonstrated the use of many educational tools; even if we will not use all of them, it is
important to know that they exist sometimes it is enough to know that something exists
and from there I can continue on my own, helping students to construct their own
content and learning environments. (Nina, written reflection)
Tami, a science major with two years of teaching experience, stated: The idea of
generating ones own content, designing a learning game, producing a YouTube video,
and sharing them on a digital binder can create an excellent knowledge base for science
teachers. I will definitely show my students the videos we [the group] created on lab
experiments. (Tami, end-of-course interview)
According to their responses, the student teachers identified the importance of harnessing
advanced (cloud-based) technologies for promoting reform-based teaching methods, especially
regarding the creation of content and managing information.

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D. Releasing control by encouraging exploration


Jose, a science major with no teaching experience, asserted that: The course provided
much knowledge and experience in using advanced technologies. It changed my
thoughts about the need to control a classroom. I understand now that students should
have more freedom in their learning to produce better outcomes. (Jose, written
reflection)
Tami asserted that: As a new science teacher, I now understand how important it is to
implement active learning in the classroom, allowing students to discover things on their
own even if they make mistakes. (Tami, end-of-course interview)
According to their responses, the student teachers understood the importance of allowing
students to explore new venues, discover new information, make mistakes, and learn from
them.

Summary and Discussion


This study was designed to develop a pedagogical framework for preparing science education
students to teach in the twenty-first century. More specifically, it had three main goals: (a) to
examine predominant instructional methods that teacher educators apply, (b) to identify
significant key attributes for teaching and learning in the twenty-first century, and (c) to
characterize a pedagogical framework that is integrates social constructivism and cloud
technologies. The first goal corresponds with recent studies in science education that have
indicated how well-designed ICTs can enhance reform-based teaching and learning (Barak
2014; Barak and Hussein-Farraj 2013; Bell et al. 2013; Jimoyiannis 2010). The findings of this
study show that teacher educators are accustomed with learning management systems, online
forums, and simulations, but many are not up-to-date with new web 2.0 environments, such as
Wikis, blogs, social networks, or other cloud technologies, and therefore rarely integrate them
in their courses. Findings also indicated a paradoxon one hand, teacher educators expect
their students, pre-service teachers, to use advanced technologies as part of their learning and
teaching activities; on the other hand, they themselves do not provide sufficient and efficient
examples for such instruction.
The second research goal, to identify significant key attributes for teaching and learning in
the twenty-first century, was guided by calls for promoting twenty-first century competencies
(Griffin et al. 2012; NRC 2012a; OECD 2013). This study identified four attributes associated
with teaching and learning: (a) adapting to frequent changes and uncertain situations, (b)
collaborating and communicating in decentralized environments, (c) generating data and
managing information, and (d) releasing control by encouraging exploration. The four attributes provided the guidelines for what is needed from a science teacher in order to promote
twenty-first century competencies in the classroom. They therefore served as the structural
pillars for the social constructivist pedagogical framework.
The third research goal, the development, characterization and implementation of a cloudpedagogy framework, emphasized students engagement with others, exploration of new venues,
co-construction of content, and peer-assessment. This is managed by applying studio-based
instruction, embedded assessment, and cloud applications, in heterogeneous learning groups.
The idea of heterogeneous groups learning within the same digital binder, is in line with recent
international reports that identify online collaborative learning as an important competency,

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necessary for working and learning in the twenty-first century (NRC 2012a; OECD 2013). The
integrative and collaborative approach of the pedagogical framework follows studies that
claim that social constructivism and advanced technologies, woven together, should be a
vital part of any teacher education program (Barak 2014; Niess 2005; Polly et al. 2010).
The science student teachers who experienced learning via the cloud-pedagogy framework asserted positive views about it and its implementation in their present (teacher
education) or future (school-based) classrooms. Since they were actively engaged in
learning, the transfer of knowledge and skills from academia to schools is more likely to
happen. This follows the study of Kolb et al. (2001) that emphasized direct experience as
a process for constructing knowledge and transferable skills.

Suggestions for Future Research


This study introduces a pedagogical framework that integrates social constructivism and
advanced technologies. It can be adapted to any learning discipline, age group, and/or cloud
application. The assimilation of studio instruction, embedded assessment, and cloud applications for facilitating students exploration of new venues and co-construction of content has
been shown to have potential for enhancing twenty-first century skills. The special capabilities
of cloud applications can be harnessed to generate learning environments that are not only
ubiquitous (anytime and anywhere) but also omnipresent (everywhere at once), while promoting students interactivity through a variety of modalities. The results of our exploratory study
raise several questions, such as: Whether and how can cloud pedagogies facilitate higher order
thinking such as innovative or critical thinking? Can cloud pedagogies enhance effective
online group work? Can cloud pedagogies promote collaborative learning among students
from diverse cultures? Our mission now is to adjust and apply the cloud pedagogies framework among a wide variety of science education courses. We hope that this pedagogical
framework will bridge the theory-practice gap and contribute to national and international
efforts to promote science teaching, learning, and assessment in the twenty-first century.

Appendix A. A Survey on teacher education in the twenty-first century


Question 1: How often do you use the following technologies in your courses?
Scale: Always (5), Very Often (4), Sometimes (3), Rarely (2), Never (1)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Learning management systemfor uploading the learning materials


Online asynchronous forumsfor online group discussions
Online synchronous meetingsfor real-time exchange of ideas
Online simulationsfor introducing real-world situations
Wiki, blogfor generating and co-editing contents
Social networksfor sharing information and receiving feedback
Google drivefor online simultaneous collaborative learning
YouTube and video appsfor viewing and sharing educational videos
Question 2: How often do you expect student teachers to use the following technologies?
Scale: Always (5), Very Often (4), Sometimes (3), Rarely (2), Never (1)

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1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Learning management systemfor uploading the learning materials


Online asynchronous forumsfor online group discussions
Online synchronous meetingsfor real-time exchange of ideas
Online simulationsfor introducing real-world situations
Wiki, blogfor generating and co-editing contents
Social networksfor sharing information and receiving feedback
Google drivefor online simultaneous collaborative learning
YouTube and video appsfor viewing and sharing educational videos

Question 3: How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements
about the use of advanced educational technologies?
Scale: Strongly agree (5), Agree (4), Undecided (3), Disagree (2), Strongly disagree (1)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

It improves the quality of my teaching


It improves the quality of my students learning
It corresponds with my teaching philosophy
It enhances my communication with students
It enhances communication among students
It doesnt fit the discipline that I am teaching
I have sufficient pedagogical knowledge to efficiently integrate ICT in my course
I have the required technical knowledge to efficiently integrate ICT in my course

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