Though it was admittedly hard to keep straight at first, TPACK has become my new foundation for thinking around teaching. We’ve always known about the relationship between Content and Pedagogical Knowledge. “What will we teach?” (content), and “How will we go about teaching it?” (pedagogy). Enter 21st Century. Technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of daily life and if we’re smart, we’ll “go with it.” The new question TPACK asks is, “How can we select, use, and integrate technology that provides quality content in a way that improves student learning?”
When we constantly ask how the content, technology, and pedagogy interrelate to provide rigorous learning for our students, we win as teachers. I feel it is important to break down the relationships between each of these concepts to make sure we are not missing anything.
For my project, considering the intersection between pedagogy and content knowledge (PCK) asks the question, “How do I approach different learning styles and scaffold content for student understanding?” Since I put the role of teacher in the hands of family members and volunteers in my project, I included a variety of activities at different levels for tutors to offer students, as well as scripts for encouragement or transitioning to new activities.
Where technology meets pedagogy (TPK), I ask, “How do I choose and manage the technology to best help students learn?” This prompted me to develop criteria to guide my selection of technology and activities. For TPK, the following two criteria apply: Activities must be free, and there must be a high focus on teaching the letter names/sounds, as opposed to higher focus on a game concept. Also, as Ruth Clark suggests, activities should mostly be drill and practice for fact teaching.
How is technology used in a content area for rich and lasting learning? This is TCK, where technology and content knowledge meet. Here, criteria is useful once again. To be considered for my program, online activities and tools needed to:
As it did with my project, familiarity with TPACK helps teachers make informed choices around integrating pedagogy, content, and technology to effect the best possible outcomes for their students. TPACK has been a pivotal piece of learning through this program, and an essential study for 21st Century teachers.