Learning about TPACK

I went to an interesting seminar yesterday run by Punya Mishra where I learnt about TPACK - Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. The A is present to make a better sounding word. Basically, it's what educators need to know in order for effective integration of technologies into their teaching.

“Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between all three components. A teacher capable of negotiating these relationships represents a form of expertise different from, and greater than, the knowledge of a disciplinary expert (say a mathematician or a historian), a technology expert (a computer scientist) and a pedagogical expert (an experienced educator).” Punya MIshra’s website

As with any model or theory that rings true with me, this is not really telling me anything new. But it articulates one of the fundamental issues facing education. And articulates it very well.

How do we address this? Well, firstly I guess people in position like me need to help educators use learning technologies appropriately by not just showing them how to use the tools, but also learning about and helping them integrate it into their course. It’s a two-way process that requires the educator to involve the Learning Technologist in the learning design helping him/her understand the learning process with the LT helping the educator understand the essence of a particular tool.

Interestingly, Punya didn’t advocate a presentation of the TPACK model to teachers. It’s useful for us to understand the process we are trying to get the educators to go through. But it’s not necessary to draw the circles. I’m not sure you should hide things but he’s right that if you talk too much theory most people switch off.

One other good learning point centres around repurposing. We repurpose any technology for our own ends. This is true and obviously so but I really like its simplicity. Presenting things simply is very, very important and a skill that I constantly strive for.