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Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge
By: Steven Anderson Creative Commons License: CC BY-SA Author contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Biography: Steven W. Anderson is the Director of Instructional Technology for the WinstonSalem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, NC. He also regularly travels the country talking to schools and districts about the use of Social Media in the classroom. Steven has been a presenter at several educational technology conferences, including ISTE, ASCD and NCTIES, as well as served as a panelist at the #140 Conference in Los Angeles, New York and was a featured speaker at the first ever #140Edu Conference, focusing on the real-time web in education. He is also responsible in helping create #edchat, a weekly education discussion on Twitter that boasts over 500 weekly participants. Steven has also been recognized with the NOW Award, highlighting the Movers And Shakers in the world of social media and the 2009 and 2011 Edublogs, Twitterer of The Year Award. Steven holds a Bachelor of Science in Middle Grade Mathematics and Science Education from Western Carolina University and a Master of Arts in Education in Instructional Technology from East Carolina University.
TPACK or Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, is a framework for planning and understanding the use of technology in the classroom. The more I’ve learned about this, the more I’ve kept smacking my head. This stuff is a no-brainer for us and should be for all educators. TPACK explains how we should be planning and using technology in the classroom. Class or subject area: Instructional design Grade level(s): All Specific learning objectives: • Understand the purpose and application of TPACK • Understand the contexts that influence the implementation of TPACK • Examine specific activity types within this framework
In June 2011, myself and the rest of our team were sitting around our conference table talking about a recent trip to ISTE (the annual conference for the International Society for Technology in Education). Many in the group could not go but those of us who did were going around the table sharing what sessions we went to and, most importantly, sharing what we learned and our reflections on our learning. During this time together our Director, Marlo, shared a wonderful session she attended delivered by Dr. Judi Harris from the College of William and Mary. Her topic was TPACK. I had heard of TPACK before, here and there, but hadn’t really spent any time investigating in. Lucky for us Dr. Harris makes her presentations public and we spent a great deal of time reviewing the information. The further and further we went into the presentation and the more Marlo shared about the session I could tell the expressions on my face were changing. Und We decided at that point this was something we needed to dive deep into ourselves and to help our teachers understand. Now you might be thinking to yourself, what is TPACK? TPACK or Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, is a framework for planning and understanding the use of technology in the classroom. From the TPACK.org website: “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to identify the nature of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge. At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). See Figure above. As must be clear, the TPACK framework builds on Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge.” (http:// mkoehler.educ.msu.edu/tpack/what-is-tpack/ ) You can see each area of knowledge carries equal importance. Content is equal to pedagogy. And they both are equal to the use of technology. But the focus here is on the intersection and balance of all 3. The goal is to get to the sweet spot of instruction where there is a focus on good content, good
pedagogy and the infusion of technology. TPACK also explains the struggles that some teachers have when planning and delivering content. • Technology/Content Knowledge (TCK)-These are teachers that have strong backgrounds in their content. They know what they are teaching and know/feel comfortable using technology to deliver this content. But there is a lack of an understanding of best how to teach the content with the technology. • Technology/Pedagogy Knowledge (TPK)-These are teachers who know the best methods in which to reach all students and they have a strong background in technology in order to help them with those methods. However they lack a strong understanding in their content. • Content/Pedagogy Knowledge (CPK)-The most popular of the knowledges, you will see most teachers fit into this realm. These are teachers who know their content backwards and forwards. And they have a good grasp on the best methods to teach students. However, there is a lack of the use of technology, and, more importantly a lack of understanding (or willingness) to infuse it into the curriculum. The TPACK frame work is surrounded by contexts. These are things that are often out of our control but we have to consider them as we are planning and implementing our curriculum. Things like: • Access To Technology • Time • Student Knowledge of the Content and Technololgies • Teacher Knowledge of the Content and Technologies • Interpersonal Dynamics We spent a great deal of time studying all the presentations and documentation about TPACK. We read case studies, looked at research and asked questions through social media to people who were using TPACK in their classrooms and schools. Through these discussions and our own research we found the Activity Types. Think of the Activity types as a road map to use during planning. There are Activity Type documents for: • • • • • • • • K-6 Literacy Mathematics Physical Education Science Secondary English Language Arts Social Studies World Languages Visual Arts (Planned for future release)
Let’s say I am a science teacher. I look at what I am going to be teaching. Let’s assume it’s chemistry. I have specific activities that I do every time I teach this unit. These may be activities that I do all the time or activities I want to try for the first time. I go over to my Science Activity Types documentation and I find the activity. I read the description and I see there are suggested technologies. These are technologies that could be used as a part of this activity. So if one of my activities is I want students to report on an element of the Periodic Table. I would look at the reporting type activities and see several
suggestions for integrating technology. Some are traditional, some not. The purpose of the Activity Types is to make planning and technology infusion easier. Content is still king. Teachers will still be content experts. Through the introduction of this simple document the planning becomes that much easier because it can be used by anyone. If there are activities that you do that work, match them up with the suggested technologies. Or maybe you don’t have any ideas for activities. The documents can serve to spur your thinking as well. And the suggestions are just that, suggestions. The technologies that are listed are the ones that are typically used. But that is when you have to think about the contexts. If the technologies there do not fit into your context you don’t use them. And maybe technology isn’t appropriate for that lesson. Fine. Don’t use it. You keep your context in mind and use what is appropriate for you and your classroom with your kids. The Activity Types make it much easier for teachers to reach that intersection of content, high quality delivery and infusion of technology because they don’t tell teachers what to teach or how to teach it. They are just suggested activities. And even things like assessments (both formative and summative) are included, with a technology twist. We decided early on in the year to change our approach to technology training. In the past a menu of choices had been sent to the schools and a series of during-school or after-school PD sessions were developed. This worked well for our group. We could play to our strengths and really dive deep into various technologies we were comfortable with. But we were missing the point. PD wasn’t for us. PD was for the teachers and we needed to do a better job of meeting their needs. After much thought and discussion we decided on a plan. We would schedule time at each school, during PLC time. We could be in on the planning process. We could introduce the idea of TPACK with them in a small group, show them the Activity Types and just see where it took them. We started with our Administrators, showing them the TPACK model and the Activity Types and they felt it would a good fit for their schools and their teachers. With their blessing we moved to scheduling time at our schools. This was and remains difficult for us. There are 83 schools in our district and 7 of me who do the same job. At each school there might be 6-9 PLC groups and they don’t all meet on the same day. So trying to find balance was important. We know we can’t be there for every meeting but we are there for a lot of them. Using all of the information we learned and with Activity Type documents in hand we went out and visited schools. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The teachers have embraced TPACK and the Activity types as an easier way to plan and they know they are doing right for their students. We continue, everyday to look at our methods and compare them against the TPACK framework to make sure we are still headed down the right road. We have a long way to go and it is a continuing growth model for us. There is always room for us to get better and we reflect upon that. But with the TPACK framework and the Activity Types to help guide us we hope make the best technology decisions for our teachers but especially our 57,000 students.
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