Friday, December 7, 2012

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK), Say What?!

 This innovative learning in this video makes a big case for why teachers need to be equipped with TPCK. But before I get ahead of myself, let me first explain what TPCK is and then I'll revisit this video at the end.

TPCK is sort of a salad of teacher effectiveness. All the yummy tools needed to make a good teacher. Apart of our educational technology class is to maintain a class wiki (a collective information platform, much like Wikipedia but specified to our class needs). We each had to contribute at least four times to it either by commenting on another classmate's post or starting our own. In one of my contributions, I commented on how intrigued I had become by the concept of Pedagogical Content Knowledge. I learned about this through one of our required readings by Hofer and Swan. 

All you scholars out there can click here to read the article, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Action: A Case Study of a Middle School Digital Documentary Project. In a nutshell, the term Pedagogical Content Knowledge was coined by Schulman in the 1980s. It is based on the notion that teachers cannot learn teaching strategies separately from content but that these areas must be combined in order for teachers to be effective. Furthermore, the article makes a good point that the this knowledge goes beyond just knowing what and how to teach but how to effectively fit these into district and curriculum standards. What's more is that in their evaluation of the concept, Hofer and Swan provide an extension to the original idea, suggesting that teachers now have to be equipped with a technological knowledge as well. They do not suggest that the technological component trumps the other areas but instead is a necessary building on the pedagogical content foundation.

This makes sense. 

Hofer and Swan worked with both and English and Social Studies teacher who were well-versed in their subjects and also knowledgeable (and/or willing to learn) about the technology needed to complete the video project they assigned their students. Hofer and Swan noted how important it was for the teachers themselves to have an in-depth understanding of the technological platforms in which they assign to their students and how past projects with other teachers had failed due to this and other limitations. To put it simply, a teacher loses an important part of the lesson if they cannot assist students in the basic fundamentals of editing a video for a documentary project for example.

Photo courtesy of North Miami Beach Sr. High Quest newspaper
As I read this, I thought about my own high school. When I visited, I noticed they'd converted a room to an iPrep room. iPrep was an initiative first started at the Miami Dade County School Board. I was delighted to see an extension of this now implemented at my old high school. My alma mater, North Miami Beach Senior High is more or less an "urban" school. 

Demographics have changed greatly over the years and usually that makes for a grim outlook and leaves some longing for the yesteryears. Therefore, I was pleased to see these improvements and technological investments. However, these type of changes strongly support why teachers should be equipped with a Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. With new innovations intended to enhance our students learning, teacher training programs must get more intensive with the technological aspect as a fused component in the mix of instructional strategies and content area knowledge.

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