We learned in late October about TPACK. Although this concept seemed a bit arduous at first, I find it to be pretty simple and logical at it’s core. In another post, I talk about how technology without pedagogy and content is like giving a middle school student a Bible in Latin and expecting them to learn Christian History. That would be content without technology or pedagogy.
The intersection of these three concepts is paramount to the integration of technology in education. In a few educational settings I’ve been a part of, I’ve observed new technology integrated and all the time spent on making the technology work without errors. However, what time often isn’t budgeted for, is how to effectively utilize the technology. This could be new web devices where nobody has taken the time to sift through the nearly endless amount content on the web, or where the teaching methods (pedagogy) hasn’t been strategically thought out. You wouldn’t go buy your family a Blue Ray player but no DVDs, so why do schools buy technology without first studying how best to use it? Just like buying a car, consciously understanding how it will be used will largely dictate the model you select. Not all technology is good for every school. If you have a student population prone to theft, for example, you probably don’t want a bunch of iPad Mini’s floating around.
The importance of coordinating T, P, and C reminds me of a recent conversation with a History teacher at All Saints’. He told me, “when I got here 12 years ago, they said, ‘Here, this is the text book. Teach Western Civilizations.’ They never told me what specifically out of the vast array of the content they wanted the kids to know.” At first, it seemed like generous academic freedom. However, when a parent complained that their student’s grades suffered because the exams were half writing, administrators asked him to not rely so much on writing in grading students in the class. The pedagogy wasn’t clear and student satisfaction and success suffered. Not to mention, it made for a grumpy History teacher that year.
Teaching is more of an art than a science. Educational leaders must mind their P’s… and T’s and C’s…