Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Intersections of TPACK

This week in graduate school we have been looking at the idea of TPACK by Mishra and Koehler.  This idea of the three circles (Technological Knowledge-TK, Pedagogical Knowledge-PK, and Content Knowledge-CK) is a relatively new one in the education world.  Gone is the shock of the SAMR Model, which to some element I still believe applies to schools and situations where there is no framework for discussing and talking about technology education.  Before really understanding and being able to have tough discussions about technology integration, staff need to be able to antiquate where exactly their technology integration skills currently fall on the spectrum of the SAMR model.  This discussion, like the one that Maggie Hos-McGrane had with her team, is the prerequisite for truly understanding and applying the TPACK model into our classrooms, corporations, and educational arenas.

The bottom line is that the TPACK model is much more complex than the SAMR model.  TPACK, at its heart, is all about the connection of the TK, PK, and CK.  It is in the middle of these three concentric circles that we find the best opportunity for teaching and learning to occur.  The uniting of these forces can create a learning experience where the content knowledge is presented through technology using a pedagogy that best fits the subject matter.  Or if that definition doesn't make sense, it is really the overlap of these three areas where a 21st century classroom is most powerful.  Lisa Nielsen has some fantastic resources on her blog about using the TPACK as a framework for professional development, integration of technology, and pre-service lesson plan evaluation.  Lisa's work is worth a few minutes to see how she is successfully using the TPACK to continue on this discussion of technology integration.  Another great look at how SAMR and TPACK connect to one another can be seen on Jenny Luca's wiki.  She provides a wealth of videos and links to better understand both models and how they relate to one another.

At the end of the day, the TPACK model is a great way to discuss technology integration.  I think it has some fantastic applications in the K-12 educational environment.  However, I believe it is even more important to consider this model in the corporate setting.  As an educational trainer I need to consider the specific content knowledge of what I am teaching.  First, do I know the content inside and out?  If I am teaching about a new piece of software, it needs to make sense to me and I have to know it really well.  Second, can I teach?  I might be the absolute smartest person when it comes to the content, but if I don't know anything about teaching I will fall flat on my face.  Having a background in teaching, classroom management, lesson design, and other characteristics of pedagogical knowledge is immensely important to my job.  Third, do I know the technology?  Having a background in technology is important, but even more important is the ability to actually use it productively when training others.  Do I know which buttons to push, where to navigate to, and more so what to do when something goes wrong?  I have to know these elements in order to be effective in this area.  Each of these areas are wonderful if all I wanted to be was someone with great knowledge of a piece of software, a great teacher, or a total technology geek – not all three.  However, educators and corporate trainers need to be all three of these at once.  That is a difficult and tall task for any educator, much less for someone that works at software company.  The world continues to change as new items come out, methods occur, and older ideas that used to work no longer do.  I have to do my job as a corporate trainer at the intersection of these three circles in the TPACK.  If I do, then I succeed.  People learn the product because of my teaching, knowledge of the technology, and effective use of the technology.  If I am too much about the technology or lack the knowledge of the product then I will not be successful.  I like how Mishra and Koehler discussed this idea in their recent publication: "This would not be possible without a deep, complex, fluid, and flexible knowledge of the technology, the content to be covered, and an appropriate pedagogy."  This intersection is something that I strive for each and every time I step in front of a captive audience to teach our software.  I need to equally hit the technology, content, and pedagogy in order to be successful.

When I step back and consider this intersection it does, at times, seem daunting.  Balancing these three areas is a difficult task.  At times I think we all dip into having too much technology and not enough content or vice versa.  However, I really believe that if teachers took some time and framed their teaching using the TPACK model it might become more successful.  It begins with reading the works of others like Mark Fijor as he discusses TPACK in terms of really limiting and narrowing down the tools that educators use in their classrooms.  It is by this smaller number we can really begin to allow staff to go deep and truly learn them inside and out, which in turn allows them to be successful in this circle of the model.  Simplifying the technology offerings is also an idea patterned by Dr. Jenny Lane as she discussed app choices and starting with the content and app rubric that matches the TPACK model.
  
Citation: Mishra & Koelher
Finally, like the cartoon above, our teachers can really be effective integrators of technology, but they need to begin with the content and instruction and then add in the technology component.  It is through the use of the TPACK model that corporate trainers like myself and K-12 educators can really begin to re-think, retransform, and re-imagine instruction to become more effective in today's world.

8 comments:

Heather said...

Randon~ I enjoyed how you transitioned the TPACK model into your new position. You are correct and an educator trainer needs to be in the center to sell the product and succeed. Continue to think of this model as you enter the business world as a tech trainer to sell your product.

Amy Christian said...

Randon,
Very well-written and interesting blog! The links you provided are wonderful resources that I will refer back to often. I love how you took the TPACK model from strictly education related to educator trainer. I have sat through too many "sales pitches" where the trainer knew about the product, but knew nothing about the educational application. The content and pedagogy connection just was not there. I would walk out thinking, cool tool, but how could I use it in education? Educators and educator trainers can all benefit from the TPACK model. After all, it is ultimately about the learners and their successes & positive learning outcomes. Very thoughtful and useful post (as always). Thanks for sharing this additional view of the application of the TPACK model.

Kathryn J said...

I would be interested in your thoughts on how to keep students engaged with the content rather than distracted by the larger cyber-world. Please spare me the old saw that if I make it more engaging, they will not be distracted by facebook. There is nothing more interesting to a high school student than what their friends are doing on FB.

I have a cart full of netbooks and set up Edmodo for my classes hoping to accomplish the type of intersections that you discuss here BUT the students (high poverty, urban environment) spent so much time pulling up music videos on YouTube and FB on proxy servers that very little learning happened. I teach Environmental Science and so much is cutting edge and out there in cyberspace BUT my students are really not interested if it didn't happen on the bus or in the cafeteria and getting them to think about the larger world has been difficult.

Kathryn J said...

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rruggles said...

Kathryn -

You touch on a very interesting question. I will spare you the "it has to be more engaging" question...don't worry. My best suggestions are these:

1.) Students have to gain trust with the teacher. Maybe not every student uses the laptops, maybe they work in partners or small groups so that the learning is more directed. See how this works.
2.) Switch up the groups often. Not everyone is comfortable with everyone else. Is there a way to "force" collaboration without actually making students uncomfortable?
3.) Leverage the power of a directed assignment that has time limits and encourages group collaboration. Students love to work collaboratively...IE isn't that what they are doing on Facebook? So can you re-direct that towards a more helpful end with a group discussion (without the computers at first, maybe they actually take notes, lay out what they want to use/research/study and make a plan BEFORE ever getting the laptops out). Also, a reward at the end makes the activity all the more interesting and kind of GBL like.
4.) Remember that the computers are a tool for learning. You can do cutting edge stuff, but maybe part of it is done with the whole group and then it is very directed in the small groups or as individuals. As teachers you figure out the pulse of your class and maybe some students just don't get on the laptops because that is not the most effective tool for their learning. Consider how and when you set things up so that they can be the most successful.
5.) I'm assuming that you do this all the time, but remember, lay out, and include students in creating the ground work for group discussions. What are the common elements? What has everyone agreed to? How do you know? Did they sign something as a class with their peers? Sometimes spending some time on this will lead to big dividends in the future.
6.) One last suggestion is the idea of giving students some "Earned Facebook Time" at the end of class. Put a certain number up on the board - maybe five minutes, three minutes, whatever and then say this is for the end of class. Kind of as a reward. However, if you find a student not focused, participating, or learning with their group and/or on Facebook then that number drops. I have seen mixed success with this method; however, the admin buy in kind of has to be there in order to be giving up some of your class time in order to let them do their thing.
7.) Last, but not least, and I'm assuming this is either too big of a distraction and/or it isn't worth mentioning – but did you ever think of joining the students on Facebook for their assignments. Maybe you create a group and from there they turn in their stuff, participate in discussions, and really you go where they already are. I have seen this work out really well too – but once again you have to be on board with this and your admin as well.

Hopefully something in there helps!

-Randon

rruggles said...

Heather & Amy -

Thanks for your contribution to this blog. It is a lot of fun to think about this model as it bleeds into the business world. It is a different idea for sure.

-Randon

Kathryn J said...

Thanks for the reply and the great ideas! I especially like the idea of making computer time groupwork as it might shift the focus to the actual work at hand. Lots to think about and some to immediately implement.

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