Hello, I am very much interested in a a framework called "TPACK."

Content Knowledge

(Image from http://www.tpack.org/, updated 3/16/09)

The intersection of these three domains for any given educator intrigues me and obviously the academic community as well due to the growing body of academic research on it.

In summary it is the"essential qualities of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching." Personally, I believe it is the key to effective technology integration in any given school district. I would like to begin a discussion here on this very topic. The purpose is two-fold:

1) Increase the general awareness of the TPACK framework so that others in this network may benefit (Reach out)
2) Bring together like-minded individuals who are already familiar with the framework to expand upon our current working knowledge and understanding of its implications on teaching and the diffusion of educational technology (Reach in)

With that in mind, please post below if you are interested in joining this conversation. I will post several other TPACK (formerly known as 'TPCK') resources below to help those unfamiliar with it get started.

TPACK home at Punya Mishra's Michigan State University webpage.

The original article as published in TCR.

An entertaining video by Mishra and Koehler from a keynote on TPACK.

(More to come, if others are interested)

Tags: change, in-service, knowledge, pedagogy, pre-service, technology, tpack, tpck

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Milan, thanks for bringing up the question of teacher belief - a critical issue, as you rightly point out. Ertmer (2005) reviews a ton of research that shows (in accordance with your note above) that technology is "unlikely to be used unless teachers can conceive of technology uses that are consistent with their existing pedagogical beliefs."

The issue here is at some level definitional i.e. how do we define knowledge in the first place. We do speak about this in the Koehler & Mishra (2008) chapter in the Handbook of TPACK. It is difficult in definitional terms to distinguish between beliefs and knowledge. Philosophers have typically defined knowledge as being "justified true belief" (for instance see the wikipedia entry on Epistemology. Please allow me to be a bit lazy and indulge in a bit of self-plagiarism by quoting directly from the chapter:
Although many philosophers have typically defined knowledge as "justified true belief" and have spent decades, if not centuries attempting to understand each of these words, the definition of knowledge used here [by us] is more pragmatic and is influenced by scholars such as Dewey, Schon and Perkins (Dewey, 1934; Dewey & Bentley; 1949; Perkins, 1986; Schon, 1983, 1987; 1996). Perkins in particular poses a provocative metaphor: that of "knowledge as design" (Perkins, 1986). In fact he goes on to argue that knowledge can be considered a tool that is designed and adapted to a purpose. As he says:
To think of knowledge as design is to think of it as an implement one constructs and wields rather than a given one discovers and beholds. The kinesthetic imagery implicit in knowledge as design fosters an active view of understanding worthy of emphasis in teaching and learning. (p. 132)
In this view of knowledge, the truth-value of the knowledge is less important than what you can do with that knowledge—what has also been called usable knowledge (Kelly, 2003; Lagemann, 2002; National Research Council [NRC], 2002).

The essential thing here is that I find it difficult to separate belief and knowledge. And it turns out that even if I could, changing beliefs often requires often requires acquiring new knowledge. So the end result is that even if there is a difference it may not be a difference that makes a difference.

So the point is that beliefs are important to consider. However change in beliefs can happen only through developing new knowledge.

For instance consider the example you give about math teachers and calculators. I would argue that there is nothing essentially wrong in teachers being skeptical about certain technologies and their role in teaching (calculators in teaching math). What is most probably happening is that their pedagogical beliefs lead them to see calculators as a replacement for calculation. However, math is more than calculation - and one has to be creative to rethink math in light of calculators. I don't want to get into details here - but the disjuncture you speak of fits right with the TPACK framework -- where a certain pedagogy leads to a certain kind of use of technology. If you see math with a different lens (as an open-ended exploratory activity) calculators provide many different opportunities.

So how is one to change beliefs. I would argue it would not be by telling them your belief is wrong (because in the frame of math they are thinking of it may be appropriate) but rather show them different creative pedagogical uses of calculators to teach math (or better still have them come up with some). Thus the technology becomes the "entry point" for re-thinking pedagogy and content.

I hope this makes sense...
This makes a lot of sense, and I agree completely. As the course I teach is a program requirement for the teacher preparation program at Pitt (as the technology course is in many teacher preparation programs), I cannot assume that everyone in the course is an enthusiastic supporter of instructional technology. I think some may even wonder why they're required to take a semester long course on how to use a calculator (not realizing there's much more to instructional technology in mathematics than calculators).

One thing I do is to have them experience a lesson on linear regression using a graphing calculator and a Java applet. This is a concept that is accessible to 8th graders, but the computations are not. This helps to address the idea that math is just computations (content), and that procedures must be learned before concepts or applications (pedagogy). I also introduce them to Computer Algebra System (CAS) and its ability to perform symbolic manipulations. This challenges their view of algebra as set of procedures for solving for x, since CAS can do this automatically. As you say, it becomes an entry point for re-thinking content and pedagogy when considering algebra.

In both of these examples their knowledge of technology, content, and pedagogy is enhanced, hopefully giving them a vision of how all three can work together to create better instruction and learning. That is, beliefs are (hopefully) altered by the acquisition of new knowledge. As you mention, it is often their view of mathematics, not technology, which puts the two at odds. While giving them a vision of mathematics as an open-ended creative endeavor is a program wide goal, technology plays an important role.

Later in the course they create, implement, and revise lessons which utilize technology. This creating/learning in context seems more clearly related to the TPACK framework. I was wondering if/how some of the activities I use to try to modify their beliefs or give them vision for meaningful technology use might fit in. But now it seems obvious to me. Thanks for your explanation.
I know you've probably put some long hours into this and getting new credentials has a practical side, but I don't think breaking up teaching and learning in the 21st Century into the pretty circles on a page is going to do all that much good. I think following Scott McCleod's blog (you must've heard of him at least) will get you a lot further. Another set of thoughts to follow would be Thomas Frey's at the daVinci Institute.

TPACK sounds like something to keep academics busy while life in the world happens. Buy a kid or two a laptop and teach them how to use. Keep notes if you need to, but continuing to buy more laptops for kids will do the most good.

I'm especially interested in McCleod's follow the money theme to get the administrators actually using this stuff.
I'm definitely not saying we should continue to use more and bigger and slicker tools for pushing out information. That's not my point. When I say teach a kid to use a laptop, I mean really teach them how to use it as educated citizens of the 21st Century. We're not that far apart in this discussion, but I'm trying to put a little more Twitter in TPACK.

Don't get me started on laptop carts; that's a perverted use for laptops. IBM had it right when they called the tool a Think pad. Can you imagine them rolling a Think pad cart down the hall over at 3M headquarters - they're not any more appropriate in my K-8 school. We need OLPC right here in River City, USA., and teachers who know how to teach to kids who are already thinking in an OLPC way.
I agree. I'd love to see OLPC, too. So I think you're right that we aren't really that far apart. I just don't know how we'll ever get there, as much as I'd love for it to happen, for two reasons:

First order barriers - where will the money come from to get the technology? we need the technology before the teaching and learning can take off
Second order barriers - once it's there, how will we get everyone on the technology bandwagon? so many people feel inept and tentative about using technology
(The idea of first and second order barriers is from buy named Brickner)

I hope we get there though! My hope is that frameworks like TPCK can help re-shape PD so that it is less about the tool and more about how it can be used to inspire and teach students. I think this is one of the quotes that was used in a TPCK paper, but maybe I got it somewhere else. I love it though:

"When you go to the hardware store to buy a drill, you don’t actually want a drill, you want a hole, they don’t sell holes at the hardware store, but they do sell drills, which are the technology used to make holes. We must not lose sight that technology for the most part is a tool and it should be used in applications which address educational concerns." (Fletcher 1996)

Sorry I keep jumping in, but I've really been sold on the TPCK framework! As you probably can tell : )
I love the quote too. And if we have two or three students that need holes but not enough money for three drills, how about if they cooperate and share that drill, maybe even learn more about hole drilling from each other.
I'm afraid we have too many instructional technologist out there enamored by the tools (twittering about their latest iPhone apps) but forgetting that "instruction" comes first. Too often the tool or lack of tool or banned tool is the topic of conversation. I have always found teachers to be quite creative in making the most of the tools (or egg carton or paper towel role) they have available when their instructional goals were clear.
I like the way TPACK puts all the components in perspective for me as a technology facilitator working with individual teachers and providing school/district staff developments. By acknowledging a teacher's expertise in their content area and pedagogical skills, they are less threatened by the technology and are more likely to see the benefits for their students. When I can give them the technology skills required to meet an instructional need, I find they are more likely to come back for more.
Well said Dawn. The only thing I would add to your last sentence is to rephrase it as follows: When I can give them the technology skills required to meet an instructional need for teaching specific content..." etc. etc.

The words in bold are the ones I added.

Anyway, the more I think about it the goal of instructional technologist it not as much to teach as to facilitate teachers to help them discover their own TPACK rather than "hand it" to them.

take care
~ punya
I've found the TPACK model to be very useful. For me, when I read several articles about it by Mishra and Koehler, I wondered why no one had ever proposed it before. The idea, as I understand it, isn't that teaching and learning is being broken into three circles but that the diagram shows all of the types of knowledge that a teacher would need to have in order to adeptly integrate technology into curriculum. So, I don't think it is as much about the students as it is about the teacher.

Here's what really resonated for me: Before the 80's, when teachers would be in their pre-service, they tended to take their content courses and pedagogical courses, and they were somewhat separate. For example, you would take science courses for a major and then take pedagogical courses to learn to teach. A guy named Schulman proposed that there was another type of knowledge other than pedagogy (P) and content (C) that teachers had to have in order to teach their subject well. Staying with the science example, a teacher would have to have Pedagogical Content knowledge (PC) which would be knowledge of how best to teach science content in particular (i.e. the strategies you use to teach a tough science concept are probably different than for math).

So what Mishra and Koehler have done, is proposed that when you consider technology, there are even more nuanced types of knowledge that you would need in order to use technology adeptly to teach content using appropriate pedagogy. Frequently when teachers learn about technology, they learn how to use a particular tool in a vacuum - without the tool being taught in a context of a particular content/pedagogy. You just learn about the tool itself. So I think Mishra and Koehler are saying that technology shouldn't be taught in isolation, but in a context, and that teachers who use technology well to teach a topic would consider what pedagogical strategies would best teach the topic and what technology tools could support that.
How do we know what works best to teach elementary math, science, and literacy without first getting the kids actually using the tools in context? What I'm suggesting is that any pedagogical strategy that is proposed is only theoretical, at best, until it is acually used and perfected in the classroom. I'm suggesting that we do less speculating about what works and start actually doing the teaching with the tools. I'm fully aware of all of the hurdles that need to be jumped before U.S. elementary teachers are actually teaching math, science and literacy with 21st Century tools. I'm afraid that TPACK is complicating things by parsing pedagogical theory without ever having tested the theory in the classroom and thereby creating a hurdle for actual implementation.

I know some pedagogical theoreticians who want to track the results of my 3rd and 4th grade Moodle reading and writing workshops on copied (I almost said 'mimeographed') forms that are stored in a paper file folder up on the second floor. They are suggesting that would be a learning framework within which to couch my practice. I'm thinkin about a couch in a different kind of office.
Happy St. Patrick's Day !
Dan, I think that the TPACK framework does exactly what you are suggesting. It values technology as an agent of change. Most rhetoric in Ed Psy academic circles ignore the possibilities that new technologies bring. Be it twitter (or other form of microblogging) in the classroom or using a visual search engine in a language arts class.. Matt K and I have always emphasized the possibilities of new tools. I personally have often written and talked about how current research approaches (the pedagogical theoreticians you speak of in your post) completely miss the boat with regard to how these new tools and their possibilities are to be studied.

I am a great believer in getting kids and teachers to use these tools. How else are we going to know what is going on or what can be done. That said, the TPACK framework says that we should not just learn the tools but rather that these tools can be use, creatively, to teach some content (science, or math, or art, or music... ). Now I hope you agree that teaching science with technology may be different from teaching music with technology - even if you use the same technology, say an iPhone. That is all that the TPACK framework is trying to say.

Matt K and I have ALWAYS emphasized the critical role of the teacher - their creativity and agency. So I am totally in agreement with you when you say, "I'm suggesting that we do less speculating about what works and start actually doing the teaching with the tools." The only thing I would add is that at the end of the day we will need some way of knowing what works... not necessarily in terms of NCLB but maybe in terms of individual teachers and their classrooms.

So what do these three circles get us... I think for many people thinking about technology it gets us a frame - a frame that tells them that you cannot look at Content, Pedagogy and Technology in isolation. Good teachers have always known this.
Dan Said: "I'm afraid that TPACK is complicating things by parsing pedagogical theory without ever having tested the theory in the classroom and thereby creating a hurdle for actual implementation."

Dan, you make a very good point. Pedagogical theories on many occasions can only take a teacher so far. But as someone who works in schools under the umbrella of educational technology professional development, I can honestly say that TPACK has made a huge impact on the work I do with teachers and administrators. Many schools have a hard time grasping what technology integration is all about, and very often focus on the tools rather than the teaching and learning involved.

I used to get very frustrated when teachers would ask me to help them plan and implement a PowerPoint or iMovie project. And then a few years ago, I came across those three circles, and suddenly I had a framework I could turn to when I needed a helping hand. TPACK provided me with an entry point into the planning process. Developing technology infused units of study is challenging work -- especially when the best 21st century learning experiences make the technology transparent. Punya said it best: "...you cannot look at Content, Pedagogy and Technology in isolation. Good teachers have always known this." I couldn't agree more.
I also work in educational technology professional development with K-12 teachers, Dan. I think (and I'm very new to TPACK and its implications) that the framework gives teachers meaning and a visual understanding of how the three areas work together for effective learning. Teachers often want to view technology in isolation, as a separate lesson, and this provides a HUGE barrier to true integration. If teachers understand the valuable learning outcomes, as demonstrated through this framework, they are more likely to consider and actually integrate technology into their teaching.

Looking forward to checking into all of the resources provided in this discussion!



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