Teachers personalize videos and animations of biochemical processes: results from a professional development workshop

Bat-Shahar Dorfman*a, Bronwyn Terrillb, Kate Pattersonb, Anat Yardena and Ron Blondera
aWeizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. E-mail: bat-shahar.dorfman@weizmann.ac.il
bGarvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia

Received 25th February 2019 , Accepted 29th May 2019

First published on 30th May 2019

Despite the advancements in the production and accessibility of videos and animations, a gap exists between their potential for science teaching and their actual use in the classroom. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate an approach to boost chemistry and biology teachers’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and their confidence regarding the use of videos and animations in class, which are required for their effective implementation. Twelve experienced high-school chemistry and biology teachers participated in a professional development workshop including biochemistry and technological–pedagogical lectures along with video-editing instruction and practice. Teachers were provided with digital videos including high-resolution scientifically based animations and were encouraged to edit them based on their pedagogical experience and the needs of their class. We investigated how the workshop affected teachers' TPACK-confidence and TPACK. TPACK-confidence was assessed by pre- and post-workshop questionnaires and open-ended feedback questionnaires. TPACK was assessed by analyses of the edited digital videos and pedagogical considerations submitted by the teachers. It was found that teachers' TPACK-confidence was significantly higher following the workshop. There was also a development in the teachers' TPACK. They were able to recommend to use digital videos in a variety of classroom situations based on the technological pedagogical knowledge (e.g., as an opening to a new topic) and their TPACK (e.g., to visualize complex biochemical processes). We also found a development in their video-editing skills and their knowledge of how to use this technology effectively in biochemistry lessons. Results indicate that training teachers in using technological tools while providing them with relevant Content Knowledge and TPACK, and relying on their pre-existing Pedagogical Content Knowledge may assist them develop their TPACK and TPACK-confidence. This may promote the effective use of videos and animations in biochemistry teaching.


In life sciences, including in biochemistry, concepts related to processes that occur at the molecular level are both challenging to teach and learn (Tsui and Treagust, 2004; Chang Rundgren and Yao, 2014). This is mainly due to the scale, jargon, and multi-level thought required (Johnstone, 1991; Starbek et al., 2010). In order to mitigate these challenges molecular level concepts and phenomena are increasingly taught through emerging educational technologies and visualization tools (Nisselle et al., 2007; Stark and Pompei, 2010; Micklos et al., 2011). It is widely acknowledged that animations can improve understanding of microscopic and sub-microscopic processes and complex phenomena (McClean et al., 2005; O’Day, 2007; Marbach-Ad et al., 2008). The utilization of principles of multimedia learning (as described later) to dynamically link multiple representations of molecular components, may assist students to shift between macro, micro and symbolic representations that are necessary to understand underlying concepts in biochemistry (Mayer, 2003; Tsui and Treagust, 2004).

In this study, we focused on digital videos, meaning modern motion pictures consisting of a video, animation, or both. While video refers to a motion picture depicting movement of real objects, animation refers to a simulated motion picture depicting movement of drawn or simulated objects. That is, an apparent movement of objects that are artificially created through drawing or some other simulation method (Mayer and Moreno, 2002). Recent advances in information technology and graphics enabled the development of powerful visualization tools for scientific phenomena and abstract information (Yarden and Yarden, 2011).

A gap exists between the potential of a technological advancement and its actual use in the classroom (Blonder and Rap, 2017)—in this case, digital videos are used to a lesser extent than expected, considering their benefits and accessibility. There are several barriers to implementation of new practices that benefit students’ learning, including visualization tools, in science education. These barriers can be related to the quality of the materials, the teachers' beliefs concerning the effectiveness of technology and the contexts in which they work (Bell et al., 2013; Barak, 2017). One of the barriers to the use of visualization tools in the classroom is that not all available content is suitable for the teachers' and students' educational needs. The Web 2.0 environment—websites that allow users not only to retrieve information, but also to take active part in observing: to decide what to see and when, to react, share existing contents and contribute contents of their own (Blonder et al., 2013)—offers a tremendous opportunity for users to access the most current content. However, due to its interactive and social nature, the massive amount of content available on the Web 2.0 environment may be highly variable in quality. As they try to select visualization tools suitable for their students, teachers wishing to use digital videos in class are often frustrated by the time it often takes to find the right content among YouTube's millions of possibilities (Sherer and Shea, 2011). Therefore, despite its advantages, the richness of Web 2.0 may be a barrier to implementation of visualization tools in class. Another barrier is that some science teachers refrain from applying new practices, like using advanced visualization tools, because they themselves had little exposure to these advanced instructional methods (Bell et al., 2013; Barak, 2017). To bridge the gap between the potential of visualization tools and their application in science education, that is, to promote incorporation of digital videos into biochemistry classes to a greater extent and in a pedagogically effective way, teachers should be trained, both in the technical aspects of using digital videos in the classroom and in choosing appropriate strategies to facilitate the incorporation of videos into the learning process. Moreover, they should understand the benefits of using videos and animations and believe in their own abilities to use them. In other words, teachers should have technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) and TPACK confidence (Mishra and Koehler, 2006; Blonder et al., 2013).

Considering the difficulties described above, the professional development (PD) program presented here was designed to accomplish three main goals: (a) to introduce high quality scientifically based digital videos to teachers, (b) to provide them with technological skills which would allow them to edit these videos and adapt them to their teaching needs (i.e., personalize them), and (c) to develop their TPACK and TPACK-confidence so they will use the videos in their classes in a way that benefits student learning. In this study, we asked how the PD affected teachers' (a) TPACK-confidence and (b) TPACK. Addressing these issues may contribute to increased pedagogically-effective use of digital videos in science classrooms.

Theoretical background

The need for visualizations in biochemistry teaching. In both past and current practice of chemistry, understanding molecular properties and processes has been a challenge, in large part because molecules and their properties cannot be observed using a naked eye. Consequently, representational tools were designed to mediate between invisible phenomena and visible ones (Kozma et al., 2000). Science teaching and learning involve understanding molecular phenomena and constructing conceptual relationships between macroscopic, microscopic and symbolic levels, especially in chemistry and molecular life sciences (reviewed in Chang Rundgren and Yao, 2014). Biochemistry learning also requires grasping orders of magnitude and scales, like the absolute and relative size of organs, cells, organelles, and biomolecules. Such an understanding can clarify the relative quantity of biostructures and parameters of relevance to living systems. For example, the approximate number of mitochondria or nuclei in different cell types, or the typical concentrations of biomolecules necessary to regulate metabolic systems. These may be challenging for students, especially because these entities are invisible to students and require visual skills (Schönborn and Anderson, 2010). Learning difficulties are further magnified by the extensive use of “scientific jargon”—technical vocabulary terms used in science that are not always intuitive to a novice. The problem of teaching jargon-heavy concepts has been identified in the literature as a potential barrier to learning science (Johnstone, 1991; McDonnell et al., 2016). In other words, students are required to understand invisible complex phenomena while making connections between multiple scales and organization levels, in a language they are not familiar with.

As abstract concepts and molecular processes are known to be an intellectual challenge for high-school students (Lewis and Wood-Robinson, 2000; Marbach-Ad, 2001), visualization tools can be used for making the invisible visible. This use is long known and it relies on the notion that visualizations tools can promote comprehension, and foster insights into abstract phenomena and levels of organization, generally and specifically for biochemical phenomena (Scaife and Rogers, 1996; Schönborn and Anderson, 2006). In addition, visualization tools including pictures and animations were found to improve the communication of scientific jargon terms to lay audiences, and thus enhance the understanding of these verbal messages (Hsu et al., 2017). Memory has been reported to be greater for visuals than words. Visuals, whether still or dynamic, can facilitate content storage and retrieval under certain conditions (Large, 1996). This is in line with the dual channel assumption (Paivio, 1986), which suggests that humans have separate channels for processing visual and verbal representations. Therefore, information encoded in both channels will be better remembered than information encoded in only one of the channels.

Based on these assumptions, Mayer (2003) developed principles of multimedia learning that suggested that learning from visual representations is improved when learners' referential connections between verbal and pictorial representations and their conceptual knowledge are promoted. This can be done by applying four principles: (a) multimedia effect—visual representations (e.g., pictures, animations) and words (e.g., text, spoken) should be combined rather than presented in isolation; (b) coherence effect—irrelevant information should be reduced; (c) spatial contiguity effect—words should be placed in close proximity to pictures; and (d) personalization effect—when the accompanying text is presented in a conversational manner students construct more useful mental models (Mayer, 2003). While still (static) visuals can facilitate science learning, they are more appropriate for visualizing structures, such as diagram of a protein, or a picture of a DNA helix (Schönborn and Anderson, 2006). However, static images describing biochemical processes and interactions, like antibody-antigen interaction, were difficult for students to interpret (Schönborn et al., 2002). In contrast, animated visuals are more suited to the representation of processes because they occur over time (Schönborn and Anderson, 2006). Indeed, research has shown that visualization tools such as videos and animations can lead to a better understanding of chemistry in general and molecular structure in particular (Kozma and Russell, 1997; Coleman and Gotch, 1998; Barnea and Dori, 2000; Hoffler and Leutner, 2007; Williamson and Jose, 2008; Tuvi-Arad and Blonder, 2010). In addition to serving as instructional tools, visualization tools have been found useful as assessment tools in biochemistry education. For example, integration of visual representations in a questionnaire can assess students' ideas about different concepts and phenomena in biochemistry and elicit their misconceptions regarding those phenomena (e.g., about the way an enzyme interacts with a substrate)—(Linenberger and Holme, 2014; Linenberger and Bretz, 2015).

Despite their many benefits, visualization tools also have limitations. For example, according to the limited capacity assumption, only a few pieces of information can be actively processed at a given time in verbal or visual channels (Baddeley, 1998). This aligns with cognitive load theory (Sweller, 1994), which suggests that working memory's capacity is limited and If these limitations are not considered, the overload on working memory will not optimize learning. In science education there is a burden of concepts and processes which may lead to cognitive load and as a result, when students rely only on animations they sometimes miss essential features. Moreover, students may develop misconceptions by taking animations of abstract concepts too literally (Yarden and Yarden, 2011). In addition, abstract biochemical phenomena are represented in a range of different modes, including two-dimensional or three-dimensional, static or dynamic, schematic, stylized or realistic-like representations. While expert biochemists are used to a range of symbolisms used to present the same phenomena, students may be confused by the different modes of representation. Thus, students are required to translate between the levels of organization and at the same time between representations of phenomena at different levels of abstraction (Schönborn and Anderson, 2004, 2006).

In the following sections, some examples of the uses of videos and animations in science education and their benefits will be presented, as well as the teachers' role in using the benefits while remediating the limitations of visual representations.

Use of motion pictures and digital videos in science education. Motion pictures have served as tools for science teaching since the early 1900s. Since then a lot has changed. The underlying principle is still the same: a sequence of images and sound that tells a story. However, data storage technologies, methods of presentation and our knowledge about pedagogical benefits for science education have evolved greatly (Park, 2010). The main use of motion pictures in the 20th century was the self-contained instructional film. For example, the first traces of using films for chemistry instruction consisted of a series of courses filmed in 1957 that were broadcasted on a closed-circuit television network at a university in Oregon, USA (Slabaugh and Hatch, 1958). The two main advantages of using these films, as reported by the students, were their ability to see the experiment close-up and that they were able to concentrate more on the subject. The main disadvantages related to technology and interactivity: that the camera was unsuccessful in capturing some of the teacher's movements, and that no questions could be asked while the film was running. Another type of instructional film that evolved in the second half of the 20th century was demonstrations of experiments (e.g., Nienhowe and Nash, 1971). One of the main advantages of these was the possibility to expose students to otherwise inaccessible chemicals, apparatus and methods. Whalley (1995) found that this capability extended to microscopic level phenomena, by creating a virtual microscope with an instructional benefit for all students as it enabled shared imagining of microscopic phenomena (Whalley, 1995).

Throughout the years many studies have shown that motion pictures can be a highly effective tool for science education (see reviews in Kay, 2012; Rackaway, 2012), and the current popular incarnation of motion pictures—digital videos—today are still used for similar purposes. For example, Nadelson et al. (2015) used a series of instructional videos as a pre-laboratory preparation in organic chemistry. The videos were focused on laboratory activities that students found to be challenging. They found that students who watched the videos performed better in the theoretical quiz as well as in the actual experiment. Therefore, another advantage of digital videos is that they support consolidation of challenging procedures and their connection to theoretical concepts. Science educators also use digital videos to vary their teaching, and students find integration of digital videos with more conventional teaching methods more engaging (e.g., Stockwell et al., 2015). A digital video can catch students' attention and help students explore concepts and gain understanding through explanations within it. Digital videos can also be used to elaborate or to apply concepts discussed in class to new situations, to invite observation and inference. Students can analyze them to make predictions, find patterns or determine classifications (Park, 2010). Dash et al. (2016) used an animated video to teach metabolic pathways involved in the fatty-liver disease, as a part of a biochemistry course. They presented these pathways as a part of a feature-film about a student meeting a fatty-liver patient. This format allowed them to apply concepts discussed in class to new situations, to present the metabolic pathways in a clinical context, thus making them relevant to real life situations. It also allowed them to make integration of several metabolic pathways, and thus integration of knowledge in biochemistry.

The major advantage of digital videos is that they serve as an enhanced means of visualization, to assist students in understanding scientific processes or mechanisms. They play a central role when complex phenomena are abstract or not directly observable (Bell et al., 2012; Brame, 2016). Digital videos that include animations have been found to be particularly effective in visualizing phenomena at the molecular level, which are the focus of many biochemistry classes (Rundgren and Tibell, 2010; Brame, 2016; Dash et al., 2016).

Several studies related to different disciplines, mostly in chemistry, have shown that the use of animations in science teaching can facilitate the understanding of chemical processes at the molecular level. For example, students who viewed a three-dimensional animation of protein synthesis scored significantly higher in a follow-up test than the group that had not viewed the animation (McClean et al., 2005). In other studies, students who had viewed molecular-level animations were found less likely to demonstrate misconceptions. For example, regarding electrons flow in aqueous solutions (Sanger and Greenbowe, 1997) and regarding equilibrium during diffusion and osmosis (Sanger et al., 2001). Williamson and Abraham (1995) explored the effect of animations depicting the particulate nature of matter on students’ mental models of the chemical phenomena and found that their computer animation's positive effect on students’ conceptual understanding was greater than traditional instruction's. In addition, when molecular animations and videos were used, students seemed to better correlate the three levels of representation: macroscopic, microscopic and symbolic (Velázquez-Marcano et al., 2004). In both examples, animations increased students’ conceptual understanding and ability to create dynamic mental models of particulate phenomena (Williamson and Abraham, 1995; Velázquez-Marcano et al., 2004).

The examples presented above illustrated the ways digital videos are used for instruction to increase students' understanding. Digital videos are also used for assessing students' understanding. However, the use of visual representations for biochemistry assessments (e.g., tests) has lagged behind that usage in instruction. Although some types of visual representations, like symbolic representations, are more commonly used for assessment, advanced structural representations and animations are dramatically less used for assessment than they are for instruction (Linenberger and Holme, 2014). In this study we focus on teachers' use of digital videos for instruction.

Teachers' role in making effective and productive use of digital videos. Despite their many advantages, videos and animations (and other technological tools) are not inherently effective as an educational tool. Studies have shown that students often disregard large segments of educational videos and animation, and some of them contribute little to student performance (reviewed in Bell et al., 2012; reviewed in Brame, 2016). This stresses the notion that technology does not replace good teaching practice, but serves as a means to enhance and support it. There is a need in careful design and awareness to the alignment of the technology to the learning objectives, and of where it is appropriate and can enrich the teaching process (Seery and McDonnell, 2013). Teachers play a central role in making effective and productive use of digital videos in educational environments. By helping students to access the most relevant content, to manage the cognitive load introduced by animations and making familiar links with experiences and the curriculum context (Yarden and Yarden, 2011), especially in the era of Web 2.0. Teachers also have a role in developing their students' visual literacy, their ability to interpret and comprehend visual representations. It is important that before exposing students to the visual representation, teachers establish students' prior knowledge and evaluate the soundness of the visual representation—its quality and constituent symbolism in effectively representing the scientific knowledge that it intends to represent. In addition, teachers should verify whether it is comprehensible to their students and, if not, explicitly explain the meaning of the symbolism and the limitations of the representation at hand. This is necessary for the development of sound conceptual understanding of biochemical phenomena (Schönborn and Anderson, 2010). Choosing the mode used to represent biochemical concepts, phenomena, or processes depends on the nature of the biochemistry the teacher wants to represent (e.g., whether it is the basic protein or genomic structure or a dynamic metabolic reaction), the teacher's pedagogical goals, and the technology available to generate the visual representation (Schönborn and Anderson, 2006). Today, with various technological tools such as editing programs, it is easier for teachers to personalize digital videos—to match the digital video's content to their own instructional goal and students. For example, by isolating short segments with the most relevant information, slowing it down, combining and rearranging multiple clips, pairing it with graphical or numeric data, combining it with still images, narration or audio, and more (Bell and Bull, 2010). Thus, teachers have more control over the content of the digital video and can make it best suitable for the different types of learners in their class, their students' academic levels, prior knowledge and experiences (Bull, 2013) and visual literacy (Schönborn and Anderson, 2006). When teachers create functional digital learning materials personalized for their classrooms, learning is improved, students are engaged and motivated to study (Bull, 2013). However, in order to incorporate digital videos into chemistry and biology classes, teachers need to be trained, both in the technical aspects of using digital videos in the classroom and in choosing appropriate methods to facilitate the incorporation of digital videos into the learning process. Moreover, they should understand the benefits of using video and animation and believe in their own abilities to use them. In other words, teachers need to have technological pedagogic content knowledge (TPACK) and TPACK-confidence (Blonder et al., 2013).
Teachers’ TPACK and TPACK-confidence. TPACK presents a dynamic framework for describing teachers' knowledge required for designing, implementing, and evaluating instruction with technology. It stemmed from the widely accepted pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) framework (Shulman, 1986, 1987), and has become a relevant framework for studying teachers' knowledge required for using technology in their classes (Niess, 2012). Therefore, it was applied in this study. Shulman (1986, 1987) discussed the components that make up teachers' knowledge. He identified two components on which teachers rely in their instruction: Content Knowledge (CK) and Pedagogical Knowledge (PK). He also suggested that when considering the intersection of CK and PK, a complete understanding of how the different aspects of a specific subject are organized, coordinated, and represented for teaching can be attained. He therefore suggested a third component—Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) to describe how CK and PK merge. According to Shulman, PCK can develop when a teacher interprets the subject matter and finds different ways to make it accessible to the student (Shulman, 1986). The currently used technology had not yet been discussed when Shulman first published his work. Although some technologies had already existed and have been used for educational purposes, since then they have developed and advanced, as described above.

According to Mishra and Koehler (2006), nowadays teachers cannot only limit themselves to merely understand technology and the way it works. They must also gain a deep understanding of the advantages these technologies offer and the strategies to use them for improving their teaching. Relying on Shulman's framework, Mishra and Koehler (2006) proposed a framework that included the knowledge and skills relevant to technology as part of teachers' knowledge. They suggested extending the term PCK to Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). In 2007, the term was changed by Thompson and Mishra (2007) to Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) since, according to the authors, TPACK better reflected the interdependence of the three contributing knowledge domains (Voogt et al., 2013). Therefore, in this paper we used the term TPACK. However, the use of both acronyms (TPCK and TPACK) in the literature is acceptable and although there is an ongoing debate on how the term should be treated, the two acronyms are often used interchangeably (Voogt et al., 2013).

Although different definitions of the term TPACK are described in the literature, they all refer to a framework of knowledge needed by the teacher to incorporate technology into teaching. It is widely agreed that TPACK describes how content, pedagogy, and technology influence and complement each other. With the TPACK framework, teachers can design pedagogical strategies and can examine the changes needed in their knowledge to create effective technology-based teaching (Niess, 2012) and assessment (Nave et al., 2017). To use the TPACK framework, which utilizes technology, teachers need a good understanding of how educational ideas, pedagogical techniques, and content knowledge can be represented in the curriculum (Mishra and Koehler, 2006; Abbitt, 2011).

The TPACK framework proposes seven distinct categories of teacher knowledge (Fig. 1). In addition to the three categories suggested by Shulman (1986, 1987), the TPACK framework includes four more categories related to technology: the Technological Knowledge (TK) represents knowledge on how to use technologies, including technical skills (e.g., how to operate tools like computers or different programs). The Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) represents the integration of technology with general pedagogical strategies (e.g., how to engage students with technology-oriented activities, and create useful presentations). It is an extension of general pedagogical knowledge (PK). Teachers who have this kind of knowledge understand the impact that technology has on general pedagogical practices that are not content-specific. The Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) represents knowledge of technology tools and representations that are used by practitioners within a content discipline. In science education, it represents the technological knowledge that a scientist would have and that teachers want their students to acquire (e.g., use of data collection tools like digital probes by scientists). Finally, TPACK represents the use of technology to support content-specific pedagogical strategies. It is an extension of PCK and is primarily achieved when a teacher knows how technological tools transform pedagogical strategies and content representations for teaching particular topics, and how technology tools and representations impact a student's understanding of these topics (e.g., the use of visualization tools to support students' understanding of scientific phenomena)—(see reviewed in Graham et al., 2009; Voogt et al., 2013). In addition to researching TPACK framework at the theoretical level, it was also attempted to incorporate TPACK into teachers' training programs and to evaluate teachers’ performance in classrooms while using it. Teachers who undergo special seminars and training programs on the use of TPACK have found that it is a good knowledge framework that improves their teaching, and that content, pedagogy, and technology must be integrated rather than viewing them as separate components (Niess, 2005; Koehler, Mishra and Yahya, 2007). Moreover, TPACK can be used for analyzing teachers’ relevant knowledge when they use technology in their teaching (Cox and Graham, 2009).

image file: c9rp00057g-f1.tif
Fig. 1 The TPACK framework and its knowledge components. Adapted from Mishra and Koehler (2006).

Importantly, it was found that just having TPACK is not enough for teachers to successfully utilize the new technology in their science teaching. In addition to the knowledge components, teachers should also have confidence in their abilities so that they can successfully incorporate the new technology into their teaching (Graham et al., 2009; Blonder and Rap, 2017). Confidence has a major influence on the courses of action individuals choose. People tend to engage in tasks about which they feel competent and confident and avoid those in which they do not (reviewed in Pajares and Schunk, 2001). Teachers’ beliefs regarding their competence are related to their behavior in the classroom and the effort they invest in teaching. Teachers who feel confident about their abilities tend to be more open to new ideas and innovations, and more willing to try new teaching methods (reviewed in Blonder et al., 2014). In a previous study regarding high-school chemistry teachers’ video editing and their use of YouTube videos, the teachers’ beliefs regarding their ability to use YouTube videos in their chemistry lessons was found to be a critical factor that influenced their use of this technology in class (Blonder et al., 2013). A later study that dealt with integrating social media into chemistry lessons supported these findings (Blonder and Rap, 2017). In a review by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), lack of confidence was found to be one of the main barriers to teachers' engagement in ICT and the uptake of technologies by teachers in the classroom. Teachers' confidence was found to be related to their amount of personal access to the technology and the amount and type of training available. It was also suggested that some teachers' low confidence for using technology in class is derived from seeing the increasing use of technology in teaching as downgrading their traditional pedagogical skills. It was suggested that training programs should ensure that teachers are aware of the benefits of using ICT, and include both pedagogical aspects and technological skills training in order to support teachers' confidence and consequently use of technology (BECTA, 2004).

Graham et al. (2009) developed a questionnaire to evaluate teachers’ confidence in their TPACK. The questionnaire requested teachers to rate their confidence in their ability to complete tasks related to their TPACK. In the current study, we used an adapted version of this questionnaire to evaluate teachers’ TPACK confidence, which will be elaborated in the methods section.


The context

Biochemistry is taught as a part of the new Israeli chemistry curriculum for grades 10–12, as an elective unit. This section includes biochemistry of proteins and nucleic acids, i.e., RNA and DNA structure and function, the processes of translation and transcription, and protein structure and function (Israeli Ministry of Education, 2018). The same concepts and processes are taught as a part of the compulsory units in the Israeli biology curriculum for the same grade levels. However, in contrast to the chemistry syllabus, in the biology syllabus there is less emphasis on the formulas and the structural and chemical properties of the molecules and the bonds. Rather, the emphasis is on the processes of gene expression, and on the idea of unity of nature when it comes to these processes (Israeli Ministry of Education, 2015). Inspired by the overlap between these two syllabi and by the relevance of the digital videos from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research for both, we designated the PD for chemistry and biology teachers alike. This allowed us to create interdisciplinary discussions surrounding the TPACK required for biochemistry teaching.

Digital video description

Digital videos were created by a Garvan Institute scientist/animator (author KP). The digital videos include both video and molecular animation based on authentic scientific data, and blend storytelling with art and design to create narrative driven molecular animations. The digital videos are primarily designed for a non-expert audience with the intention to deeply engage, and to provide insights and understanding into processes that underpin human biology, health and disease. They are also designed with a detailed and high-resolution aesthetic and molecular models such that scientists can also utilise the digital videos and/or elements from them to communicate their research to their peers, potential funding bodies, decision makers and non-expert audiences.

The animations that make up the majority of the digital videos were created using 3D animation software Autodesk Maya with Molecular Maya plugin. Compositing was performed with Adobe After Effects.

Three digital videos were available as part of the workshop: (1) ‘Cancer is not one disease’, that focuses on the complexities of cancer; (2) ‘Heartbeats of our Genome’§—a 360-degree stereoscopic animation designed for Google Cardboard. The animation shows how DNA is transcribed into RNA and that each cell only has access to a subset of the genome library; and (3) ‘Tagging DNA’—the molecular mechanisms that underpin epigenetics. These three videos were chosen for the workshop since they were the most relevant to the school science curriculum. The videos and a set of components (assets) were exported for use in the teacher workshop including individual scenes that emphasised particular concepts or interactions or still images of specific molecules and their interactions.


The workshop participants included 12 high-school teachers (10 females and 2 males) from 10 different schools in Israel, of which 5 teach chemistry, 6 teach biology and one teaches both. Teachers had 8 to 40 years of high-school science teaching experience. The teachers voluntarily chose to participate in the workshop and in the accompanying research.

Workshop description

The workshop was designed to teach high-school chemistry and biology teachers to use a video editing freeware and to develop the relevant TPACK for using digital videos in chemistry and biology lessons. The workshop was conducted during the summer vacation (2018) in the framework of the National Centre of Chemistry Teachers in Israel. It consisted of 4 face-to-face meetings of 7.5 hours each, as follows: every day two theoretical lectures were given—one lecture was given by scientists on contemporary biochemistry topics, and the other was given by science education researchers on the pedagogical aspects of using digital videos in the science class. These lectures included discussions on the use of the digital videos in biochemistry teaching and about the pedagogy related to this use (TPACK). We presented the digital videos created by the Garvan Institute and discussed their relevance to the chemistry and biology high-school curricula. Most of the workshop was dedicated to practical work: First, teachers learned the fundamental skills of searching, using, and downloading internet digital videos. Then, the teachers learned how to use HitFilm Express (a freeware used to edit videos produced by FXhome, available at https://fxhome.com/express). Teachers practiced and applied these skills by creating their own personalized edited digital videos to be used in their lessons. They could choose whether to work individually or with a partner. At the end of each day a feedback session was held, in which teachers presented their digital videos, which were at the different stages of editing, and received feedback and suggestions from their peers.

Data collection and analysis

Several tools were used to evaluate possible changes in TPACK and TPACK-confidence of teachers regarding editing and using digital videos containing molecular animations for learning in high-school: (1) pre-post workshop questionnaires, (2) feedback questionnaires, and (3) the edited digital videos created by the teachers and their pedagogical considerations (which were submitted as a part of the course assignment). Using several research tools enabled triangulation of the data. In the following sections, we will present each tool separately and then discuss the conclusions derived from the comprehensive analysis of these three tools altogether.
1. Pre-post workshop questionnaires. The questionnaires included two sections. The first section assessed teachers' TPACK-confidence by 31 self-reported Likert-type items. The TPACK-confidence questionnaire included the following confidence scales: (a) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), (b) Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), (c) Content knowledge (CK), and (d) Technological Knowledge (TK). Scales (a–c) were adapted from Graham et al. (2009) using the following scale: 1 = not confident at all, 6 = completely confident. Scale (d) was adapted from Blonder et al. (2013) using the following scale: 0 = I am afraid to use, 1 = I do not know, 2 = I know but I do not use, 3 = I know and I use. The internal reliabilities of the scales were evaluated by calculating Cronbach's alpha for each scale (Table 1). The second section of the pre-post workshop questionnaires was an open-ended question asking the teachers to describe recommended situations and recommended curricular contents for using videos in their lessons. In this part we counted the different situations and recommended curricular contents that were suggested by the teachers and looked for differences between each teacher's answer in the pre- and post-questionnaires.
Table 1 Cronbach's alpha coefficients of the teachers' questionnaire scales
Scale No. of items Cronbach alpha
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) 5 0.80
Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) 7 0.93
Technological Knowledge (TK) 14 0.91
Content Knowledge (CK) 4 0.94

The pre-workshop questionnaires were handed to the participants in two parts: (1) prior to the workshop, the TK scale (d) was sent to each participant via e-mail as an electronic questionnaire. This allowed us to get information about the participants' technological knowledge and to suit the contents of the workshop to their needs; (2) pen-and-paper questionnaires including the other scales (a–c) and the open-ended question were handed and filled at the opening session on the first day of the workshop.

The post-workshop questionnaires were handled in a similar way: (1) the TK scale (d) was sent to each participant via e-mail as an electronic questionnaire a day after the workshop; (2) the pen-and-paper questionnaires including the other scales (a–c) and the open-ended question were handed and filled at the closing session on the last day of the workshop.

In order to evaluate the differences in teachers’ skills and perceptions between the pre- and post-workshop questionnaires, we used the Wilcoxon Signed Rank test (suitable for a minimum sample size of three). The complete questionnaire is available in Appendix 1 – Table A1 (ESI).

2. Feedback questionnaires. The questionnaire was anonymous and included 4 open-ended questions, asking teachers to describe the positive and the negative aspects of the workshop, two main contributions of the workshop, and any further comment they may wish to share. The feedback questionnaires were handed and filled at the closing session on the last day of the workshop, along with the post-workshop questionnaires.

Content analysis of teachers’ answers to this questionnaire was performed by defining primary categories of teachers' answers and looking for prevalent categories. Below we present examples only from the TPACK and confidence categories, as this is the focus of this paper. Examples that were chosen to be presented are the ones that represent the most prevalent ideas.

3. Edited videos and pedagogical considerations. During the course the teachers had two assignments: (a) to create an edited digital video using the molecular-animations we provided and any other clip from YouTube if necessary. Teachers chose whether to work individually or with a partner and chose the topic of their video. The topic could be from the high-school chemistry/biology curriculum or as an enrichment; and (b) to prepare a storyboard including the order and contents of the frames and the pedagogical considerations behind each frame. In order to characterize teachers' uses of digital videos containing molecular animations, the digital videos that the teachers produced (n = 7) were analyzed according to their content and the skills that teachers used in editing the digital videos: (a) the number of video editing skills demonstrated in each video were counted, (b) analysis of the storyboards included mapping teachers' pedagogical considerations, categorizing them to TPK and TPACK based considerations.


1. Development of teachers' TPACK-confidence

a. Pre- and post- workshop teachers' TPACK-confidence questionnaire. An analysis of the pre- and post-workshop TPACK-confidence questionnaires using a Wilcoxon Signed Rank test revealed significant increases (p < 0.01) in all confidence scales following the workshop (Fig. 1). Further analysis of each item separately showed that some aspects of teachers’ TPACK-confidence had significantly changed while others did not. For example, there was no significant change in teachers' confidence in their ability to use digital technologies to facilitate scientific inquiry while there was an increase in all the other items of the TPACK-confidence scale (Table A1, ESI). With regards to TK, no significant improvements were found between the pre- and post-questionnaires regarding general technological skills (searching Google and YouTube, downloading videos, installing and looking for program and converting formats). Teachers reported high general technological skills before they started the course. On the contrary, the previous knowledge of the teachers regarding video editing (using a video editing program, cutting and connecting videos, adding effects, pictures, music and text) was reported as low and after the course they reported that their ability in video editing significantly improved (p < 0.01), as was expected from the course (Table A1, ESI).
b. Feedback questionnaire. A content analysis of the feedback questionnaires showed that all the teachers reported an improvement in their TK, in general or specifically relating to video editing. Some teachers wrote that they were planning to use their new skills in the future. For example: “Now I learned how to work with the video editing program. I am not sure I’ll use it every lesson, but if I found two different videos suitable for my class—I will just cut and connect them to prepare them as one video for my class… and with a different class one can change it again to tailor it to the new audience.” Some reported improving their TPK: “[I learned] to create videos for educational purposes—focused with clear pedagogical aims”, or their TPACK: “My video was about translation and transcription. There are many videos about these processes but none of them fits my needs or the way I want to present the topic. This tool of video editing allowed me to edit these videos into a single video which more accurately fits the issues I wanted to stress… each video on YouTube focuses on a different aspect: one visualizes the process itself, another one focuses on proteins and another on the location of the processes… editing a single video containing all of these three aspects gave me the solution of presenting the elements I find important.” Some teachers wrote that the scientific lectures contributed to their knowledge, and that they felt more updated about current scientific research (CK). In addition, some wrote explicitly that they gained confidence in their TPK and TK, for example: “I am now more open to the ways to integrate videos in teaching. A sense of confidence in my ability to use videos and to create them. I learned how to create videos, I enjoyed the new things I achieved: the ability to create a video and to add elements to existing videos, the experience of narrating…” and “I am happy with the fact that I created a video. I never believed that I would be editing a video. I was happy with each step, as I succeeded to add transitions, music… and after many trials I finally succeeded to cut two different sections from a video and paste them together, and to add my own voice to the video…I did not give up and finally I succeeded. I learned a lot of things I can apply in the future in my teaching.” However, some wrote that their skills improved, but showed less confidence in their new abilities: “I found video editing very practical and interesting, but applying it is slow and frustrating. It takes a lot of time to gain high level skills and I still don't have the knowledge to create a high-quality video. The transitions are not smooth and I need to add subtitles… I know I have acquired the knowledge and I will need to ‘play’ with the program some more to get to the high quality I want.” These findings are in line with the quantitative results of the TPACK-confidence questionnaires (Fig. 1).

2. Development of teachers' TPACK

a. Pre- and post- workshop open-ended question. In the open-ended question, the teachers were asked to describe recommended situations and curricular contents for using videos in chemistry or biology lessons (TPACK). Although overall the same situations were mentioned in the pre- and post-questionnaires, differences were found between each teacher's answer in the pre- and in the post-questionnaires. In the post-questionnaires, 10 out of 12 teachers who answered the open-ended question wrote one to three recommended situations that were not mentioned in their answers to the pre-questionnaire. One of the two teachers who did not add teaching situations, related only to curricular contents and suggested four more areas of content where digital videos could improve teaching. Table 2 presents teachers’ suggestions for different situations in chemistry and biology class in which they recommended videos to be used. Most responses referred to general pedagogical uses (TPK) and only three related specifically to science (TPACK). Most responses were common for chemistry and biology teachers, however, only chemistry teachers suggested to use videos to demonstrate laboratory procedures that cannot be performed at school (Table 2). This was the only difference we found between chemistry and biology teachers in this study. The curricular contents that teachers mentioned were very general. For example, the most prevalent answers were DNA/RNA structure and DNA/RNA processes (transcription, translation, replication). For most teachers no differences were found between the pre- and post-workshop questionnaires (Fig. 2).
Table 2 Examples of classroom situations in which teachers recommended the use of digital videos, and their abundance in teachers' answers in both pre- and post-workshop questionnaires
Teacher quotes Abundance
a Classroom situations that are specific to science education, in contrast to general pedagogical purposes.
As a summary to a topic learned in class 10
To vary my teaching methods, to increase interest 8
As an opening to a new topic 8
To visualize abstract biochemical conceptsa 6
To visualize complex biochemical processesa 6
To demonstrate laboratory procedures that cannot be performed at schoola 5
As a part of self-taught topics and assignments 5
To shorten the time of explanations 3
For alternative assessment 3
To deal with a heterogenic class 2
To increase motivation 2
In enrichment classes 2
To connect to today's kids' digital world 1
To trigger students’ inquiry process in the laboratorya 1
To make connections between different topics 1

image file: c9rp00057g-f2.tif
Fig. 2 Teachers’ TPACK confidence, before and after the course: (a) TPACK, TPK and CK, measured on a 1–6 scale; and (b) TK, measured on a 0–3 scale; the Wilcoxon signed rank test was applied to compare between pre and post results, *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01 (n = 12).
b. Teachers' edited digital videos. Teachers’ video editing skills (TK) were observed in the analysis of the digital videos they created. They demonstrated these skills by successfully using the techniques learned during the course in their videos. Table 3 presents the analysis of skills that were used for creating the videos. Appendix 2 presents an example of a timeline of a digital video created by teachers. In all videos the basic skills that were used: importing, cutting and connecting videos. In most videos the more advanced skills were also used: adding a picture, titles, subtitles, narration, transitions and effects, and adding and editing soundtrack and slides. This supports the findings regarding TK that teachers reported in the questionnaires (Table A1, ESI).
Table 3 Skills analysis of edited videos created by the teachers
Video subject Length (min) Video-related technological skillsa Accompanying teaching materials
a The following coding is used for describing different video editing skills: 1 – import video, 2 – export video, 3 – cut a video, 4 – connect two videos, 5 – add a picture, 6 – add titles/subtitles, 7 – add narration, 8 – add and edit soundtrack, 9 – import and edit slides, 10 – add transitions and effects.
DNA structure 6[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]26 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 Class activity, Quiz
Epigenetics 3[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]08 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 Classroom activity, Student sheets
What is epigenetics 7[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]23 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 student sheets (instructions for students to create their own videos)
Epigenetics 3[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]57 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 None
Epigenetics, translation and transcription 8[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]53 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 None
DNA structure 5[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]00 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 Student sheets
Translation and transcription 8[thin space (1/6-em)]:[thin space (1/6-em)]31 1, 3, 4, 5 Blank concept-map

c. Teachers' storyboards and pedagogical considerations. Teachers’ TPK and TPACK were also expressed in the way they justified the order and contents of their digital videos in their storyboards. The pedagogical considerations described below were explicitly written in the assignment the teachers submitted.

TPK: Most teachers started their digital video with an interesting or emotional story to evoke students’ interest. Throughout the digital videos teachers used several TPK related elements and considerations. For example, several teachers added slides with questions in the middle of the video and/or in the end. They wrote that it was done to make the digital video interactive, to increase students’ involvement by allowing them to think about the topic, express their ideas and discuss what they saw so far. Some wrote that this discussion also allows teachers to evaluate students’ understanding. Teachers used soft music “to help students focus and to create a relaxed atmosphere in class”; teachers created their own narration instead of the one from the original digital video. This served two purposes: first, it allowed them to explain the contents in their students' language and “to focus on the contents and ideas that we wanted to emphasize and to create a coherent sequence, easier to understand [than the original video].” One teacher wrote that he used narration to personalize the videos: “they [the students] are used to hearing me explaining things to them in class.” Some teachers referred to combining two elements at the same time. For example: “I want students to know the important theoretical knowledge through the verbal/audio explanation and at the same time pictures. It will focus them”, and “I think that adding subtitles (a skill I don't fully control yet) could have helped students who have difficulties focusing on the auditory explanations while watching. However, I fear it would create cognitive overload, so I'm not sure I would add subtitles.” The last quote also exemplifies that sometimes teachers have the pedagogical knowledge but still lack the technological knowledge to execute their ideas.

TPACK: Teachers' TPACK related considerations included two main aspects: (a) the sequence of presentation and visualization of a biochemical term or a process, the sequence they designed in their digital video: either from the macro level to the micro level, or starting from the general overview before providing details: “It was important to include a short description of what epigenetics is before we expose the students to the details of the process shown in the animations.” Another sequence used by other teachers was starting from content already taught allowing students to connect the newly studied biochemical concepts to their prior knowledge. This seemed especially prevalent when the digital video was designed as an extension or enrichment, with the aim of connecting the topic to the chemistry or biology curriculum. For example, “Epigenetics is not taught in chemistry classes, so I added DNA structure as a background, after that I added the structure of DNA in detail… and only then students will have a strong basis to understand the chemical tagging and gene regulation”; (b) visualization of a biochemical term or a process, in order to deepen students' understanding of the various organizational levels, structure, function, location or the connection between them. For example, “We showed a zoom-in into the body, since many students get confused regarding the location of each element [e.g., that the nucleic acids are in the nucleus] and the connection between the different terms.” Some mentioned the importance of including realistic forms of representations to address possible misconceptions. For example, “We are used to two-dimensional drawings of the cell. It is important to remember that it is a three-dimensional structure…” and “In many videos we see a simple model of the DNA as a schematic double-helix. Students may think that this is how the molecule actually looks like. The model I showed in the video is closer to the actual structure of the DNA.”


In this study, we evaluated a PD-workshop, developed to improve teachers' confidence and skills regarding the use of digital videos in class, by increasing their technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. Two research questions led the study: how did the workshop influence (1) teachers' TPACK-confidence, and (2) teachers' TPACK? The discussion is presented according to each of these research questions, based on integration of the results from the different research tools, presented above.

1. How did the workshop influence teachers' TPACK-confidence?

The development in teachers' TPACK-confidence was evaluated by a pre- and post-workshop TPACK-confidence questionnaire (Graham et al., 2009; Blonder et al., 2013) and a feedback questionnaire. The results from the TPACK-confidence questionnaire show that the teachers’ confidence in their TK, CK, TPK and TPACK significantly increased in the course of the workshop (Fig. 1). Regarding the TK-confidence scale, teachers’ confidence for the more advanced video-editing skills they learned in the workshop significantly increased. However, most of the teachers came to the workshop with high TK-confidence related to general internet skills, which did not change significantly following the workshop (Table A1, ESI). Furthermore, although teachers' confidence in searching Google and YouTube was initially high and did not significantly change, there was a significant increase in teachers' confidence in finding and using online animations that effectively demonstrate a specific scientific principle (Table A1, ESI). This implies that by itself understanding how to use and being confident to use a certain technology (TK) was not enough for making teachers feel confident about their abilities to integrate this technology in their biology or chemistry lessons (TPACK-confidence). This stresses the importance of including both pedagogical aspects and technological skills in teachers' professional development programs (BECTA, 2004).

TK is fundamental to developing confidence in the other three forms of knowledge (TCK, TPK, TPACK), especially if one believes that some basic technical awareness and skills are required to being able to meaningfully integrate technology into teaching (Graham et al., 2009). However, others have found that although TK was perceived by teachers to have direct positive influence on their TPACK (Pierson, 2001; Koh, Chai and Tsai, 2013), the perceived positive influence of TPK and TCK on TPACK was stronger than the direct influence of TK (Koh et al., 2013). This aligns with our results as discussed above, although TCK was not measured in the current study.

Results from the feedback questionnaire support the findings from the TPACK-confidence questionnaire. Teachers verbally expressed their confidence in specific video-editing skills corresponding to the items for which significant increases were found (TK-confidence). They reported increased ability to use digital videos for educational purposes (TPK-confidence) and specifically for teaching biochemistry, and overcoming the challenges that they had so far in using digital videos to visualize biochemical processes (TPACK-confidence).

The challenges that teachers felt they overcame correspond to challenges described in the literature as barriers to effective use of digital videos. For example, teachers wrote that they were able to create their own personalized digital videos according to their teaching goals or the emphases they wanted to make when teaching a certain topic, thus overcoming the challenge of finding a suitable digital video on the web, as described by Sherer and Shea (2011). Traditionally, teaching and learning were promoted by teacher-made materials and activities. These were naturally personalized in the sense that they were designed by the teachers to suit their needs. The expansion of digital materials and learning technologies have shifted the design focus from teachers to commercially designed software and the web. Therefore, these materials are not personalized and don't always match the teacher's needs. Overcoming this challenge requires teachers to take active part in the design and personalization of these materials, including multimedia resources (Bull, 2013). Another barrier to applying new practices such as advanced visualization tools is that science teachers themselves had little exposure to these advanced instructional methods (Bell et al., 2013; Barak, 2017). Following the workshop, teachers in our study wrote that they planned to use the tools they learned and that they were confident in their abilities to edit digital videos and to integrate them in their lessons after being exposed to the tools of video editing.

To conclude, the participating teachers developed TPACK-confidence following the workshop, which not only taught them a new technological tool (TK), but also included the aspects of how to effectively apply it when teaching biochemistry (TPK and TPACK), and provided the relevant CK. Our findings stress the importance of making the connections between the components of TPACK and reinforce Mishra and Koehler's (2006) contention that teachers’ technology integration expertise is found largely in the areas of overlap among TK, PK, and CK.

Teachers' level of confidence in using a technology is a significant contributor to teachers' level of engagement in ICT (reviewed in BECTA, 2004; Blonder and Rap, 2017). That the workshop increased teachers' confidence in their TPACK and in their ability to overcome the barriers to implementing digital videos in teaching biochemistry processes is therefore an important finding of this study. Confidence has a major influence on the courses of action individuals choose. People tend to engage in tasks about which they feel competent and confident and avoid those in which they do not. Additionally, when individuals believe in their capabilities to perform a task, they will expend more effort and will be more persistent and resilient when confronting obstacles (reviewed in Pajares and Schunk, 2001). An individual's confidence in their capabilities are rooted in their past achievements and reinforcements and they play a determining role in individuals' further growth and development (Bandura, 1997; Bong and Skaalvik, 2003). Science teachers are motivated by these principles as well (Blonder et al., 2014). Indeed, the participating teachers reported a sense of achievement and success in the face of difficulties, which helped to enhance their confidence and allowed further growth. This could play a central part in determining if they will use the tools acquired in the workshop and use digital videos in biochemistry teaching.

2. How did the workshop influence teachers' TPACK?

Teachers' TPACK was evaluated by an open-ended question in the pre-post workshop questionnaire, by analyses of the edited digital videos teachers created, and their written pedagogical considerations.

In the open-ended question, which asked the teachers to describe teaching situations and curricular contents for which it is recommended to use digital videos, almost all teachers wrote one to three recommended situations that were not mentioned in their answers to the pre-questionnaire. Most of the recommended uses for digital videos referred to general pedagogical uses (TPK) and only three related specifically to science (TPACK). The most prevalent situations in teachers' answers were as a summary to a topic learned in class, followed by using digital videos as an opening to a new topic and to vary the teaching method. For the latter two, teachers often mentioned that this would increase students' interest and engagement. Using digital videos as means to catch students' attention and increase their interest was described in other studies (e.g., Stockwell et al., 2015), as well as the benefits of varying teaching methods (e.g., Blonder and Sakhnini, 2012). The other prevalent teachers' suggestions were also described in the literature—to visualize abstract biochemical concepts and complex biochemical processes, mainly DNA replication, transcription and translation (Schönborn and Anderson, 2006; Rundgren and Tibell, 2010; Yarden and Yarden, 2010, 2011; Brame, 2016; Dash et al., 2016), to demonstrate laboratory procedures that cannot be performed at school (Nienhowe and Nash, 1971; Yarden and Yarden, 2010), and as a part of self-taught topics and assignments (Park, 2010; Brame, 2016). The participants were experienced teachers who chose to do the course and already knew and recognized problems in chemistry and biology teaching, as well as uses for digital videos. However, these results indicate that a development in their TPK and TPACK has occurred. Perhaps this was a result of explicitly discussing the application of digital videos for biochemistry teaching, which allowed them to learn not only from the workshop but also from each other's experience.

Acknowledging the benefits of digital videos as an educational tool is very important to implementing it in class (Yarden and Yarden, 2011; Blonder et al., 2013). However, teachers should also have the TK that would allow them to use digital videos according to their needs. During the workshop the teachers were introduced to a new technology, a video editing tool. As mentioned above, teachers described the difficulties to find a digital video suitable for their needs—the emphases of the different digital videos on the web do not always coincide with the teacher's goal. This is a challenge that may prevent teachers from making full use of this technology (BECTA, 2004; Sherer and Shea, 2011). Using video editing tools allow teachers to design, create and use their own digital videos according to their own needs. Results of the analysis of the digital videos that the teachers created show that they have developed TK related to video editing skills. In the beginning of the workshop, none of the teachers knew how to use these tools, according to their self-report in the pre-workshop TPACK-confidence questionnaire. However, in all the edited digital videos, the basic skills were used, and in most of them the more advanced skills were also applied.

Development of teachers' TPK and TPACK was observed in the way teachers justified the order and contents of their digital videos in their storyboards. According to their written pedagogical consideration, they used TPK related elements in their videos, such as slides with questions to increase students' engagement and evoke thinking, and narration in order to use both auditory and visual channels. TPACK was expressed mainly by the teachers' justifications for the sequence they designed for their digital video (e.g., from the macro level to the micro level of a certain process) and by addressing students' prevalent difficulties with certain biochemical curricular contents (e.g., showing a realistic model of the DNA since student may think of the schematic model as the actual structure of DNA). Although teachers probably came to the workshop having the PK and PCK that allowed them to identify the needs of their students and their own pedagogical needs as teachers, following the course they found a way to link their PK and PCK with the new technological tool they learned, thus developing their TPK and TPACK. Relying on their preexisting PK and PCK and on their experience with the students to create personalized digital videos, may have also contributed to reinforcing the teachers' TPACK-confidence, as their traditional pedagogical skills have been acknowledged, stressing that technology is not a replacement for their pedagogical expertise (BECTA, 2004; Seery and McDonnell, 2013). A few teachers mentioned that there are still some gaps between their plans (that are based on their PK and PCK) and their ability to execute them exactly as planned due to limited proficiency in video editing. This may prevent these teachers from using their still-limited skills and the video they edited in the workshop in their teaching (BECTA, 2004). However, the majority of the teachers now have the TK required to modify a digital video they found on the web, as well as the TPK and TPACK to plan these modifications, to create a digital video that is suitable to their students' needs. This stresses the need to integrate content, pedagogy and technology in PD programs and in preparing science teachers to use technology in the classroom (BECTA, 2004; Niess, 2005; Koehler et al., 2007; Blonder et al., 2013).

Conclusions and implications for practice

The professional development workshop presented in this paper aimed to bridge the gap between the potential power and the actual use of digital videos in science education, based on TPACK as a theoretical framework. The workshop included direct teaching and practicing of TK related to video editing, CK, TPK and TPACK. More importantly, it included discussions and a video planning process in which each teacher created a personalized digital video. The personalization required teachers to use their experience and expertise as chemistry and biology teachers and to actively connect their PK and PCK to the new technology. Thus, in addition to the experts’ knowledge provided to the teachers, each teacher brought her or his own knowledge (PCK, PK) and educational context: the knowledge of the class, the curriculum and school context. This may have contributed to teachers' confidence, as their experience and existing knowledge were meaningful.

Furthermore, this made the workshop relevant for the teachers and allowed them to learn from each other, although there were both chemistry and biology teachers among the participants. Further investigation is needed to evaluate this model and to examine its generalization in other educational contexts, such as in different countries. This will also allow us to examine how these results could potentially be applied to a wider population, to improve teachers’ TPACK and TPACK-confidence on a larger scale.

In this workshop there was a range of teachers with a range of technical competencies, each motivated to participate by different aspects of the workshop. Some came mainly for the practical video-editing part while some came for the scientific lectures. Some of the teachers reported before the workshop that they have no technical knowledge or even that they are afraid to try a variety of technologies. However, it is reasonable to assume that the participants felt that they could benefit from using digital videos in class and that they were not teachers who felt extremely technologically incompetent. To reach teachers with these characteristics, it may be recommended to include a similar workshop in pre-service teacher education programs. However, it is not clear how impactful this workshop would be for participants with less initial knowledge or confidence. This also requires further investigation. In this workshop we tried to address the limited access that some teachers may have to digital videos and editing equipment by using only tools available freely to the general public using a standard internet connection, such as a free video editing program and YouTube clips. However, one resource that can still limit teachers' use of these technologies is the time it takes to develop such materials for classroom practice. This reduces the chance that they will use the tools acquired in the workshop throughout the school year. Therefore, it may be advisable to allocate enough time during the workshop itself for practical work, in order to allow teachers to complete their personalized video.

Finally, teachers were provided with high quality, scientific digital videos (the Garvan Institute animations), that minimized the need to find reliable videos on the web, but on the same time required modifications, as they were not designed for high school students. We suggest that further research should be conducted in order to better understand the characteristics of videos and animations that are useful for chemistry and biology teachers, and to understand their different needs. This could support the process of producing scientific videos and animations that will be used by teachers in class.

Ethical approval

This research project was approved by the Weizmann Institute of Science Institutional Review Board (IRB-Education 2-7-18).

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts to declare.


This research was funded as a seed grant of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics.

Notes and references

  1. Abbitt T. J., (2011), Measuring Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Preservice Teacher Education: A Review of Current Methods and Instruments, J. Res. Technol. Educ., 43(4), 281–300.
  2. Baddeley A., (1998), Human Memory, Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  3. Bandura A., (1997), Self-efficacy: the exercise of control, New-York, NY: Freeman.
  4. Barak M., (2017), Science Teacher Education in the Twenty-First Century: a Pedagogical Framework for Technology-Integrated Social Constructivism, Res. Sci. Educ., 47(2), 283–303,  DOI:10.1007/s11165-015-9501-y.
  5. Barnea N. and Dori Y. J., (2000), Computerized molecular modeling: the new technology for enhance model perception among chemistry educators and learners, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 1(1), 109–120.
  6. BECTA, (2004), A review of the research literature on barriers to the uptake of ICT by teachers, available at: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/1603/1/becta_2004_barrierstouptake_litrev.pdf.
  7. Bell L. et al., (2012), The TPACK of dynamic representations, in Ronau R., Rakes C. and Niess M. (ed.), Educ. Technol. Teach. knowledge, Classr. impact A Res. Handb. Fram. approaches, Hershey, PA: IGI Global, pp. 103–135.
  8. Bell L. and Bull G. L., (2010), Digital Video and Teaching, Contemp. Issues Technol. Teach. Educ., 10(1), 1–6.
  9. Bell R. L., Maeng J. L. and Binns I. C., (2013), Learning in context: technology integration in a teacher preparation program informed by situated learning theory, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 50(3), 348–379,  DOI:10.1002/tea.21075.
  10. Blonder R. et al., (2013), Can You Tube it? Providing chemistry teachers with technological tools and enhancing their self-efficacy beliefs, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 14(3), 269–285,  10.1039/C3RP00001J.
  11. Blonder R. and Rap S., (2017), I like Facebook: exploring Israeli high school chemistry teachers’ TPACK and self-efficacy beliefs, Educ. Inf. Technol., 22(2), 697–724,  DOI:10.1007/s10639-015-9384-6.
  12. Blonder R. and Sakhnini S., (2012), Teaching two basic nanotechnology concepts in secondary school by using a variety of teaching methods, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 13(4), 500–516.
  13. Blonder R., Benny N. and Jones M. G., (2014), Teaching self-efficacy of science teachers, in Evans R. H. et al., (ed.), Role Sci. Teach. beliefs Int. classrooms From Teach. actions to student Learn, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 3–15.
  14. Bong M. and Skaalvik E. M., (2003), Academic Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy: How Different Are They Really? Educ. Psychol. Rev., 15(1).
  15. Brame C. J., (2016), Effective educational videos: principles and guidelines for maximizing student learning from video content, CBE Life Sci. Educ., 15(4), es6,  DOI:10.1187/cbe.16-03-0125.
  16. Bull P. H., (2013), Cognitive Constructivist Theory of Multimedia: Designing Teacher-Made Interactive Digital, Creat. Educ., 4(9), 614–619,  DOI:10.4236/ce.2013.49088.
  17. Chang Rundgren S. N. and Yao B. J., (2014), Visualization in research and science teachers’ professional development, Asia-Pacific Forum Sci. Learn. Teach., 15(2), 1–21.
  18. Coleman S. L. and Gotch A. J., (1998), Spatial perception skills of chemistry students, J. Chem. Educ., 75(2), 206.
  19. Cox S. and Graham C. R., (2009), Diagramming TPACK in practice: using an elaborated model of the TPACK framework to analyze and depict teacher knowledge, TechTrends, 53(5), 60–69,  DOI:10.1007/s11528-009-0327-1.
  20. Dash S. et al., (2016), Audio-visual aid in teaching ‘fatty liver’, Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 44(3), 241–245.
  21. Graham R. C. et al., (2009), Measuring the TPACK confidence of inservice science teachers, TechTrends, 53(5), 70–79,  DOI:10.1007/s11528-009-0328-0.
  22. Hoffler T. N. and Leutner D., (2007), Instructional animation versus static pictures: a meta-analysis, Learn. Instr., 17(6), 722–738.
  23. Hsu G. et al., (2017), Design of Customized Mobile Application for Patient Adherence to Oral Anticancer Medications Utilizing User-Centered Design, J. Biocommun., 41(1), 5–14,  DOI:10.5210/jbc.v41i1.7499.
  24. Israeli Ministry of Education, (2015), Syllabus of Biological Studies (10th–12th grade), (in Hebrew), available at: http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/Mazkirut_Pedagogit/Biology/TochnitLimudim/tochnitmutemet.htm.
  25. Israeli Ministry of Education, (2018), Syllabus of Chemistry studies (Grades 10–12), [in Hebrew], available at: http://edu.gov.il/mazhap/chemistry/studies-program/Pages/syllabus-chemistry.aspx.
  26. Johnstone A. H., (1991), Why is science difficult to learn? Things are seldom what they seem, J. Comput. Assist. Learn., 7(2), 75–83.
  27. Kay R. H., (2012), Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: a comprehensive review of the literature, Comput. Hum. Behav., 28(3), 820–831,  DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2012.01.011.
  28. Koehler M. J., Mishra P. and Yahya K., (2007), Tracing the development of teacher knowledge in a design seminar: integrating content, pedagogy and technology, Comput. Educ., 49(3), 740–762,  DOI:10.1016/j.compedu.2005.11.012.
  29. Koh J. H. L., Chai C. S. and Tsai C. C., (2013), Examining practicing teachers’ perceptions of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK), pathways: a structural equation modeling approach, Instruct. Sci., 41(4), 793–809, available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11251-012-9249-y.
  30. Kozma R. et al., (2000), The Roles of Representations and Tools in the Chemistry Laboratory and Their Implications for Chemistry Learning, J. Learn. Sci., 9(2), 105–143,  DOI:10.1207/s15327809jls0902_1.
  31. Kozma R. and Russell J., (1997), Multimedia and understanding: expert and novice responses to different representations of chemical phenomena, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 34, 949–968.
  32. Large A., (1996), Computer animation in an instructional environment, Libr. Inf. Sci. Res., 18, 3–23,  DOI:10.1016/S0740-8188(96)90028-6.
  33. Lewis J. and Wood-Robinson C., (2000), Genes, chromosomes, cell division and inheritance—do students see any relationship? Int. J. Sci. Educ., 22(2), 177–195,  DOI:10.1080/095006900289949.
  34. Linenberger K. J. and Bretz S. L., (2015), Biochemistry students’ ideas about how an enzyme interacts with a substrate, Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 43(4), 213–222,  DOI:10.1002/bmb.20868.
  35. Linenberger K. J. and Holme T. A., (2014), Results of a national survey of biochemistry instructors to determine the prevalence and types of representations used during instruction and assessment, J. Chem. Educ., 91(6), 800–806,  DOI:10.1021/ed400201v.
  36. Marbach-Ad G., (2001), Attempting to break the code in students’ comprehension of genetic concepts, J. Biol. Educ., 35(4), 183–189.
  37. Marbach-Ad G., Rotbain Y. and Stavy R., (2008), Using computer animation and illustration activities to improve high school students’ achievement in molecular genetics, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 45(3), 273–292.
  38. Mayer R. E., (2003), The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media, Learn. Instruct., 13(2), 125–139.
  39. Mayer R. E. and Moreno R., (2002), Animation as an aid to multimedia learning, Educ. Psychol. Rev., 14(1), 87–99.
  40. McClean P. et al., (2005), Molecular and cellular biology animations: development and impact on student learning, Cell Biol. Educ., 4(2), 169–179.
  41. McDonnell L., Barker M. K. and Wieman C., (2016), Concepts first, jargon second improves student articulation of understanding, Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 44(1), 12–19,  DOI:10.1002/bmb.20922.
  42. Micklos D., Lauter S. and Nisselle A. E., (2011), Lessons from a Science Education Portal, Science, 334(6063), 1657–1658.
  43. Mishra P. and Koehler M. J., (2006), Technological pedagogical content knowledge: a framework for teacher knowledge, Teach. Coll. Rec., 108(6), 1017–1054.
  44. Nadelson L. S. et al., (2015), Integration of Video-Based Demonstrations to Prepare Students for the Organic Chemistry Laboratory, J. Sci. Educ. Technol., 24(4), 476–483,  DOI:10.1007/s10956-014-9535-3.
  45. Nave R., Ackerman R. and Dori Y. J., (2017), Medical community of inquiry: a diagnostic tool for learning, assessment, and research, Interdiscip. J. e-Skills Lifelong Learn., 13, 1–17.
  46. Nienhowe E. J. and Nash E. G., (1971), Using video tapes to teach instrumentation in organic chemistry, J. Chem. Educ., 48(2), 141.
  47. Niess M. L., (2005), Preparing teachers to teach science and mathematics with technology: developing a technology pedagogical content knowledge, Teach. Teach. Educ., 21, 509–523,  DOI:10.1016/j.tate.2005.03.006.
  48. Niess M. L., (2012), Teacher knowledge for teaching with technology: a TPACK lens, in R. Ronau, C. Rakes and M. L. Niess (ed.), Educ. Technol. Teach. knowledge, Classr. impact A Res. Handb. Fram. approaches, Hershey, PA: IGI Global, pp. 1–15.
  49. Nisselle A. et al., (2007), Auditing the use of genetics educational technologies in Australian secondary schools, Teach. Sci., 53(4), 36–40.
  50. O’Day D. H., (2007), The value of animations in biology teaching: a study of long-term memory retention, CBE Life Sci. Educ., 6, 217–223.
  51. Paivio A., (1986), Mental representations: a dual coding approach, New York: Oxford University Press.
  52. Pajares F. and Schunk D. H., (2001), Self-beliefs and school success: self-efficacy, self-concept, and school achievement, in Riding R. and Rayner S. (ed.), Int. Perspect. Individ. Differ. Vol. 2 Self Percept, London: Ablex Publishing, pp. 239–266.
  53. Park J., (2010), Editorial: Preparing Teachers to Use Digital Video in the Science Classroom, Contemp. Issues Technol. Teach. Educ., 10(1), 119–123, available at: http://www.editlib.org/f/34124.
  54. Pierson M. E., (2001), Technology integration practice as a function of pedagogical expertise, J. Res. Comput. Educ., 33(4), 413–430.
  55. Rackaway C., (2012), Video killed the textbook star? Use of multimedia supplements to enhance student learning, J. Polit. Sci. Educ., 8(2), 189–200.
  56. Rundgren C. J. and Tibell L. A. E., (2010), Critical features of visualizations of transport through the cell membrane – an empirical study of upper secondary and tertiary students’ meaning-making of a still image and an animation, Int. J. Sci. Math. Educ., 8(2), 223–246,  DOI:10.1007/s10763-009-9171-1.
  57. Sanger M. and Greenbowe T., (1997), Common student misconceptions in electrochemistry: galvanic, electrolytic, and concentration cells, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 34(4), 377–398.
  58. Sanger M., Brecheisen D. and Hynek B., (2001), Can computer animations affect college biology students’ conceptions about diffusion & osmosis? Am. Biol. Teach., 63(2), 104–109.
  59. Scaife M. and Rogers Y., (1996), External cognition: how do graphical representations work? Int. J. Hum. Comput. Stud., 45, 185–213.
  60. Schönborn K. and Anderson T., (2004), Conceptual and visualization difficulties with the interpretation of diagrams and images in biochemistry, FASEB J., 18(8), C207.
  61. Schönborn K. and Anderson T., (2006), The importance of visual literacy in the education of biochemists, Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 34(2), 94–102,  DOI:10.1002/bmb.2006.49403402094.
  62. Schönborn K. J. and Anderson T. R., (2010), Bridging the educational research-teaching practice gap: foundations for assessing and developing biochemistry students’ visual literacy, Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 38(5), 347–354,  DOI:10.1002/bmb.20436.
  63. Schönborn K., Anderson T. R. and Grayson D. J., (2002), Student difficulties with the interpretation of a textbook diagram immunoglobulin G (IgG), Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 30(2), 93–97.
  64. Seery M. K. and McDonnell C., (2013), The application of technology to enhance chemistry education, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 14(3), 227–228,  10.1039/c3rp90006a.
  65. Sherer P. and Shea T., (2011), Using Online Video to Support Student Learning and Engagement, Coll. Teach., 59(2), 56–59,  DOI:10.1080/87567555.2010.511313.
  66. Shulman L. S., (1986), Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching, Educ. Res., 15, 4–14.
  67. Shulman L. S., (1987), Knowledge and teaching – foundations of the new reform, Harv. Educ. Rev., 57, 1–22.
  68. Slabaugh W. and Hatch C. V., (1958), General chemistry via television, J. Chem. Educ., 35, 95–96.
  69. Starbek P., Starčič Erjavec M. and Peklaj C., (2010), Teaching genetics with multimedia results in better acquisition of knowledge and improvement in comprehension, J. Comput. Assist. Learn., 26(3), 214–224.
  70. Stark L. A. and Pompei K., (2010), Making Genetics Easy to Understand, Science, 327, 538–539.
  71. Stockwell B. et al., (2015), Blended learning improves science education, Cell, 162, 933–936.
  72. Sweller J., (1994), Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design, Learn. Instr., 4(4), 295–312.
  73. Thompson A. D. and Mishra P., (2007), Breaking news: TPCK becomes TPACK! J. Comput. Teach. Educ., 24(2), 38–64.
  74. Tsui C. and Treagust D., (2004), Motivational Aspects of Learning Genetics with Interactive Multimedia, Am. Biol. Teach., 66(4), 277–285.
  75. Tuvi-Arad I. and Blonder R., (2010), Continuous symmetry and chemistry teachers: learning advanced chemistry content through novel visualization tools, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 11(1), 48–58.
  76. Velázquez-Marcano A. et al., (2004), The Use of Video Demonstrations and Particulate Animation in General Chemistry, J. Sci. Educ. Technol., 13(3), 315–323,  DOI:10.1023/B:JOST.0000045458.76285.fe.
  77. Voogt J. et al., (2013), Technological pedagogical content knowledge – a review of the literature, J. Comput. Assist. Learn., 29(2).
  78. Whalley P., (1995), Imagining with multimedia, Br. J. Educ. Technol., 26(3), 190–204,  DOI:10.1111/j.1467-8535.1995.tb00341.x.
  79. Williamson V. M. and Abraham M. R., (1995), The effects of computer animation of the particulate mental models of college chemistry students, J. Res. Sci. Teach., 57, 247–262.
  80. Williamson V. M. and Jose T. J., (2008), The effects of a two-year molecular visualization experience on teachers’ attitudes, content knowledge, and spatial ability, J. Chem. Educ., 85(5), 718.
  81. Yarden H. and Yarden A., (2010), Learning using dynamic and static visualizations: students’ comprehension, prior knowledge and Conceptual Status of a biotechnological method, Res. Sci. Educ., 40(3), 375–402,  DOI:10.1007/s11165-009-9126-0.
  82. Yarden H. and Yarden A., (2011), Studying Biotechnological Methods Using Animations: The Teacher's Role, J. Sci. Educ. Technol., 20(6), 689–702,  DOI:10.1007/s10956-010-9262-3.


Electronic supplementary information (ESI) available. See DOI: 10.1039/c9rp00057g
‘Cancer is not one disease’ is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlajAw8exg4.
§ ‘Heartbeats of our Genome’ is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc3FNhGSTgM&t=1s.
‘Tagging DNA’ is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEZHxVqh2IE.

This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2019