Technology in Our Teaching

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By Timothy Costello

What is TPACK and how does it play a role?

I will be the first to admit when I started teaching; I resorted to my “comfort zone” of what I knew. This was notes on the whiteboard, work sheets and/or assigned homework out of a student consumable…LOTS of consumables. Was this efficient? Yes it was, the same thing had been done for decades. However, I began to ask myself if it was effective? My answer was no…it was busy work, time consuming and labor intensive (for students and teacher). And oh the response and looks on students faces when handing out more worksheets. So, entering from stage right, technology. The question then became how do I integrate technology into my teaching more than just a document camera or a projector? I discovered TPACK.

Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge, or TPACK, focuses on the complex and multi-dimensional aspects of teacher knowledge while simultaneously determining the information required by instructors for technology integration within their teaching. The core of TPACK’s foundation is the interconnection of the three primary forms of knowledge: Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) and Technological Knowledge (TK). However, each of these primary forms does not exist in isolation; they overlap each other much like a Venn diagram (see above).

Effective technology integration within our teaching regarding pedagogy and specific subject matter necessitates developing relationships between each component. There are many factors such as grade-level, culture (schools and student body) and instructional staff affecting technology integration. Therefore, no combination of technology, content or pedagogy will pertain to every teacher or school. Let’s examine the relationships between the core principles of TPACK.

For the sake of time and space, I will not define technology, pedagogy or content knowledge, we all know what they are. However, it is the interplay between each of them we will examine:

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK): transpires when the subject matter is transformed for teaching. This occurs when the instructor interprets the material and then finds multiple ways to represents it. This incorporates everything including curriculum, instruction, learning and assessment and pedagogy. Hence, the reason it is classified as PCK (Shulman, 1986).

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK): teachers need to understand how technology and content hinder and influence one another. Teachers can no longer master just the subject matter they teach, but how it can be changed by utilizing certain technologies. Instructors should understand what technologies are best suited for their subject domain and how the relationship may change both the technology and the subject matter (Koehler and Mishra, 2009).

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK): this is exemplified when technology is used in particular ways in altering teaching and learning. This includes knowing the limits of tech tools as related to pedagogical designs and strategies (Koehler and Mishra, 2009).

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): TPACK is different from the knowledge of all three disciplines individually. It is effective teaching with technology, demanding an understanding of concepts using technology, pedagogical strategies exploiting technology in ways to teach the content as well as pedagogical strategies when activating student’s prior knowledge in learning content.

In conclusion, when I discovered TPACK I had to ask myself where I fell in the diagram. Last year, as a brand-new intern teacher, I was confident in my content knowledge. However, I had very little confidence in my pedagogy and I was fairly confident with technology. This year, as a part of EdTech Cadre I have discovered more tech tools and their effectiveness with different pedagogical strategies, while I am still working on my pedagogy. My question to all of you is: Where are you on the TPACK Venn Diagram?

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