Problem based Learning: a promising pathway for empowering pre-service teachers for ICT-mediated language teaching

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Information and communication technology (ICT) has become a prominent part of education and offers numerous means of improving teaching and learning in the classroom. However, the tendency to take the teacher education curriculum for granted and the assumption that it adequately prepares teachers for the integration of ICT into their teaching practice need to be questioned. Recent studies on technology have shifted from the emphasis on technology skills alone to integrating pedagogy and content with technology, which is termed technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK). Deeper understanding of how TPACK can be cultivated is needed. This design-based research explored how a problem-based learning approach can help pre-service language teachers to develop TPACK and impact their teaching practices. Data was collected via self-progress surveys, ICT-mediated language lesson plans, reflections by the pre-service teachers, student-produced artefacts, records of instructional design and log entries by the facilitators. Based on the survey data, the pre-service teachers believed that they had developed TPACK. By comparing the qualitative data, it was discovered that the pre-service teachers became better positioned to use ICT in their teaching practices. The shift from teacher-centredness to student-centredness was also observed in their instructional planning. The problem-based learning approach created critical but safe opportunities for pre-service teachers to better understand that while using technology, teachers may have to re-evaluate their teaching practices and to rethink the nature and scope of the subject for which it will be used.