Thursday, February 16, 2017

Module 4: TPACK Makes a Difference.

Used w/permission from - rights free
Learning is about more than content or pedagogy or technology.  It involves the uniting of these forces to create a learning experience where content knowledge is presented through technology using a pedagogy that best fits the subject matter.

As if this wasn't enough to boggle an educator's mind, the context within which it is being taught must also be considered.  It is this context that determines relevancy to the student.

This is called TPaCK. TPaCK stands for
  • Technology
  • Pedagogy
  • Content Knowledge
Understanding the Premise: This approach derives from Lee Shulman's work in the 80s when he introduced the notion of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).  Shulman (1986) says "pedagogical content knowledge is of special interest because it identifies the distinctive bodies of knowledge for teaching. It represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction" (p. 8).

Pedagogic Content Knowledge by Dr. B -   A good way to learn about PCK is through Dr. Bilash's website. Review her work and watch her two short videos to see the connection between Pedagogy and Content Knowledge.  This may seem simple, but acknowledging the differences in the way a teacher understands content compared to a content expert is revealing.

Adding Technology to the PaCK: Acknowledging the connection between pedagogy and content knowledge, it is time to consider the medium through which this adapted content is presented/experienced. This medium is technology in the broadest sense of the word.  It doesn't have to "plug in." The best way to experience a Van Gogh painting is in the Musee de Orsay museum in Paris. If you happen to be visiting Paris sometime soon, that might be possible. If your future plans involve staying around the house a little more, then there are other avenues available to you. This is where you can use various forms of technology to fill the bill. You could enjoy Van Gogh's The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise through a Post-Impressionism book,  a Jigsaw Puzzlea 360-degree Panorama inside the church, a tour of the church and town, or even Wikipedia.

Whatever technology you select, it is the intersection of Pedagogy, Content Knowledge and Technology within a Context that will carry the message for the learner. It will determine the topic's relevance to the learner and ultimately learners' interest in remembering and using the new information.   

The key to the TPaCK method is examining the intersections between the domains. This would include Pedagogy-Content (PC), Technology-Content Knowledge (TC) and Technology-Pedagogy (TP). The most important point is the intersection of all of the domains TPC which we find at the middle of a 3-circle venn diagram.

This Low-Tech video explanation by RoyceKimmons is quite informative. He uses the 3-circle venn diagram to explain the relations of these domains.

 Here is another video to help reinforce the concept.
The best place to find out about TPaCK is at   This is an ever-growing website that contains a plethora of possible resources.

Is Technology Really All Important?
There are three parts to the TPACK model. Mishra, Koehler and Kereluik point out that while technologies change, the song remains the same.  What is it that prevents technology from changing education? Is it the technology or the educators' preference for doing things to sustain the status quo instead of making a difference?

Applying TPaCK to My Curriculum

This theory is just great, but what about practical application?  I can't get my head around how to make this happen in my classroom.  I understand that I must teach World War II events using a pedagogy that is relevant to my population of students and that it should be conveyed using technology that is meaningful and engaging with my students.  But is there a formula?                 Probably not!

Here are the musings of Mark Fijor, a technology coordinator in Chicago.  He does a good job of examining TPACK from a practical classroom and school district point of view.  As you read these postings, think of how these ideas have, are or might be integrated into your teaching situation. If you don't have a classroom consider how this can fit into a higher-education or corporate setting or retirement home setting - CONTEXTUALIZE.
  1. TPACK and Systemic Technology Integration
  2. TPACK and Systemic Technology Integration - Part Two
  3. TPACK and Systemic Integration - Focus Tools 
  4. TPACK and Systemic Integration - Affordances and Constraints
  5. TPACK and Systemic Integration - The Four C's of Tech Integration

Curriculum-Based Activity Types

Fijor uses the "electric drill" analogy. He also introduces Activity Types. Activity Types are the practical applications of the theoretical TPACK. They have been developed by a group of researchers including Judi Harris, Mark Hofer, Denise Schmidt and Ann Thompson.  

Activity Types are conceptual planning tools that assist educators in organizing and creating curriculum-based learning activities. Each activity type captures what is most essential about the structure of a particular kind of learning action as it relates to what students do when engaged in that particular learning-related activity (e.g., group discussion; role play; fieldtrip). They have been organized by placing them in taxonomies.

TPACK Taxonomies
Dr. Judi Harris and Mark Hofer wrote a series of articles about using their subject-based taxonomies for TPACKING classroom projects Learning and Leading with Technology.  (It is actually pgs 22 - 34.)

Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2009). “Grounded” technology integration: Planning with curriculum-based learning activity types. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(2), 22-25.

You can find a succinct table of the Activity Types arranged by Format of Expression in an article entitled:

Instructional Planning Activity Types as Vehicles for Curriculum-Based TPACK Development (.pdf)
More Specifically: The hierarchies used for 7 different subject areas are found on the William and Mary School of Education Activity Types wiki.  

Here is an example of how these activities have been used with a grammar lesson:

Using TPaCK to Teach Grammar in Middle School

Playing the TPACK GAME

The TPACK Game involves simulating the thought process that a typical teacher has to experience when s/he is making decisions about content, pedagogy and technology choices. It involves randomly selecting two of the choices and then making informed decisions about the third choice.  This would mean that if you are provided with the content and the pedagogy to use, you must make an informed decision about which technology to use.  

This game is usually played with game cards in a classroom.  Since this course is online, it is not possible to use this format.  We will use an online format, but first - let's have Lisa Hervey demonstrate how you can play the TPACK game using cups . . .

Another way that you can play this TPACK game is using playing cards.  Here is a link to Microsoft TPACK cards in case you want to download them and use them with your colleagues as you teach them about TPACK.

For our purposes, I have created a spreadsheet (The Ultimate TPACK Game) with the terms that were on the TPACK cards and more. There is a built-in random number generator that you can use to select the Content Topics and Pedagogical Strategies at random so that you can identify a form of technology to use to achieve the Ultimate TPACK. (Read the Directions)

Play this game to develop at least 5 TPACK sets.  Before you create your lesson, you will be asked to list these 5 TPACK sets and explain the rational for your selections.

Now it will be time to return to the Module 4 instructions to learn about writing your TPACK lesson plan.

Another Place to Visit

Visit the WikiBook: TPACKing for a Wonderful Educational Trip  Dr. Z's students in the past (2012 & 2014) created a WikiBook to share lessons that they created using TPACK.  This is different than what we will be doing this semester, but they did some impressive work with TPACK.

Happy Traveling through TPACK.


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