This article deals with the bridging of the knowledge gap between pedagogical knowledge and technological pedagogical knowledge in Afrikaans Home Language teaching. The investigation furthermore highlights that the solution to bridging the knowledge gaps that may have arisen also lies in the ability of a language teacher to be a lifelong learner.
The aim of the investigation was to deconstruct the teaching process or approach of specific Afrikaans Home Language teachers in order to form an understanding of the way in which the teachers who were involved bridge their pedagogical and technological knowledge gaps. The investigation determines how teachers develop and broaden their own knowledge bases with regard to the integration of learning technology in order to supplement gaps. The role of the teacher as a lifelong learner was therefore also raised in this investigation. Among other things that were used, the TPACK (technological pedagogical and content knowledge) model used for the conceptualisation of the data provided insight into the working method, way of thinking and practice of the Afrikaans Home Language teacher.
Various lenses were employed in the research to identify connections. Constructivism is a term used by a variety of researchers when it comes to theories of learning, as it can serve as an epistemological alternative to objectivist theories of knowledge. Objectivists and constructivists agree on the fact that there is a real world that is experienced. Cognitivism was therefore used to highlight knowledge gaps and, in this regard, particular use was made of Mishra’s (2018) TPACK model. This is especially relevant when we investigate the way in which teachers acquire, interpret and apply knowledge from existing knowledge in the 21st-century classroom. Further aspects of the social nature of the classroom were also highlighted through the lenses of critical constructivism (critical literacy), connectivism (the interrelationships between learners and teachers) and constructionism. This multiplicity of points of departure therefore validates the perception of reality of each individual (teachers in the investigation) and each individual’s perspective should therefore be taken into account in the construction of knowledge. In this case study, the different respondents’ opinions regarding knowledge construction were taken into account. Furthermore, the SAMR model and Hutchison and Woodward’s (2014) framework were used during the deconstruction of the Afrikaans Home Language teaching process.
The approach to the data (the methodology) comprised a qualitative case study and the data collection was undertaken through semi-structured interviews. Furthermore, critical discourse analysis was used as a method for analysing the data. We used critical discourse analysis to analyse the transcripts of the interviews, to make inferences, and to draw comparisons with selected theories. The qualitative approach of critical reflection and discourse analysis was used repeatedly to anchor, conceptualise and interpret the data within the theory. Teachers were expected to share personal teaching ideas and opinions on the integration of and teaching approach to learning technology in the Afrikaans Home Language classroom. What was shared was considered confidential and when such information was mentioned in the research results, all respondents were treated anonymously. No personal information is disclosed.
The investigation highlights that the solution to bridging the knowledge gaps that may have arisen also lies in the ability of a language teacher to be a lifelong learner. In other words, this ability is related to the language teachers’ skills in doing research on their own and being willing to learn from other more knowledgeable persons. This is in line with cognitive and social constructivism whereby more knowledgeable persons are able to play a mentoring role in the context of the teacher. By consulting a more knowledgeable person, it becomes possible to bridge the knowledge gap between theory and application of the integration of technology in practice.
The teachers in this case study possibly bridged their knowledge gaps by using the TPACK knowledge and skills, namely their knowledge of their own subject area and their leadership and management ability to manage innovation in the classroom, while still pursuing the goal of the curriculum.
The contribution of this research is of an institutional nature, as it has made the teachers more aware of the way in which learning technology can be integrated and can indicate how continuous professional development takes place in schools. By means of the integration of learning technology, teachers developed their own teaching skills and extended their knowledge of the use and implementation of learning technology. It also facilitated insight into the working methods of the language teachers with regard to the way in which they fill their knowledge gaps in Afrikaans Home Language.
Keywords: 21st-century skills; Afrikaans Home Language; discourse analysis; integration; intertwined learning; knowledge gaps; language education; language teachers; learning technology; literacy; mixed learning; SAMR model; technology; technology integration; TPACK model