TPACK is a new but logical concept for me. My experience in over twenty years of teaching has led me to realise that pedagogy and content knowledge are an essential combination and that in today’s digital society, adding technology into our curriculum where appropriate, is necessary to create real and engaging learning opportunities.

I started my first teaching job well-trained with knowledge and appropriate pedagogy for the teaching of Art and found myself with a line of Year 8 Maths. My first reaction was, “Year 8 Maths – easy”. I was confident with the subject matter but did not realise that I completely lacked the pedagogical skills required to help my students learn. On the flip side, I am about to start a job at a new progressive school, where risk taking with technology is encouraged and where I will also be teaching well outside of my content knowledge comfort zone. Although this will be a massive challenge whilst I try and get on top of content and the technology possibilities, I think I have now developed the pedagogical skills and confidence to manage this scenario better than I might once have. I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know, let’s find out” or “that didn’t work, what did we learn? How can we do it differently?”

Adding technology into Shulman’s PCK model is essential to keep learning opportunities vibrant and provide scope for development of skills that will assist students to function in the workplace, but the dilemma for teachers today is what to use and how to integrate technology to optimise learning. Koehler and Mishra discuss the requirement for a thoughtful and playful approach to the use of technology in education. An open-minded approach to integrating technology is necessary to prevent a sense of overload with the possibilities. Playing, experimenting and practicing use of technology with students could be the best way to creatively solve the wicked problem that the vastness of technology creates.

In regards to where my teaching proficiency fits into the T-PACK diagram, it depends on what I am teaching and what the dynamic of my students requires.

TPACK-new

Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org

I have been teaching Graphic Design for the past few years and in this subject, it would not now be possible to work without technology and prepare students for the real design world. I think this has enabled me to sit in the centre of the diagram for my teaching of this subject. My teaching of Art as my original discipline, has probably remained more traditional due to familiarity and may take more for me to shift the paradigm to integrate technology more. When I teach other subjects that I am less familiar with or where students are challenging, I think I look for more opportunities to incorporate all three aspects creatively, in order to ensure that what I am doing is engaging for my students.

My most recent employment has been in a beautiful girls’ school where student conduct is consistently compliant. At times it is not obvious that teaching and learning can be improved with the integration of technology in this environment. For this reason, I have found my colleagues have not always seen the benefits of integrating technology beyond word-processing, PowerPoint and internet research.  On the whole, I think teachers need considerable training, and as Koehler, Mishra and Yahya note, regular teacher training opportunities (seminars etc) may not support deep development of the knowledge required to integrate technology with content and pedagogy. More creative options are required and may include opportunities for peer learning, Professional Learning Communities and team teaching to develop skills in integrating technology effectively. A further options that includes a playful approach is that advocated by Karen Work Richardson, where teachers play a game to creatively invent ways in integrate the three knowledge forms. See the article, T-PACK Game On.

I am looking forward to my move to a school where I will be challenged to manage student behaviour and creatively solve the wicked problem of how best to assist my students to engage in learning. The combination of a different student dynamic and a school that is actively seeking creative ways of teaching using technology will support my development of all aspects of my T-PACK integration.

References

Koehler, M.J. & Mishra, P. What Is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge? accessed from http://www.citejournal.org/vol9/iss1/general/article1.cfm

Koehler, M. T-PACK. Retreived from http://www.tpack.org

Koehler, M. Mishra, P. & Yahya, K. Tracing the development of teacher knowledge in a design seminar: Integrating content, pedagogy and technology. Computers & EducationVolume 49, Issue 3, November 2007, Pages 740–762

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2008, March). Thinking creatively: Teachers as designers of technology, pedagogy and content (tpack). Keynote address at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Las Vegas, NV, March 3-7.

Work Richardson, K. T-PACK Game On. Learning & Leading with Technology. 37.8 (June-July 2010): p34.