Technological frameworks assist educators with the effective integration of technology and teaching. TPACK applied through the design thinking process can assist teachers in developing students’ 21st-century competencies (Koh, Chai, Benjamin, & Hong, 2015). The intersections of TPACK are essential in teaching 21st-century competencies. Brown, Neal, and Fine (2011) reviewed how designing lessons with Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) assist with the insertion of 21st-century thinking skills and sought connections between the two.
This work indicated that the prevailing critical thinking instructional strategy needed to design effective lessons by preservice teachers was teacher questioning, inquiry-based learning strategies, open-ended questions, problem or project-based learning, and the use of PowerPoint for presentations. Teachers need to understand the content, including standards such as ISTE and competencies such as P21, and then transfer the content through proper pedagogical and technological applications.
WHAT IS TPACK?
Without the domains of TPACK, students may miss an opportunity to demonstrate their own understanding and application of learning. Silva (2009) stated that placing “an emphasis on what students can do with knowledge, rather than what units of knowledge they have, is the essence of 21st-century skills” (p. 630).
As the educational landscape changes, technological tools, instructional strategies, and standards will come and go. Teachers who understand TPACK can leverage the complexities of mixing content, technology, and pedagogy and apply them in specific contexts leading to quality teaching (Mishra, Koehler, & Henriksen, 2011). TPACK was introduced to the educational field as a framework for integrating technology with content and pedagogy (Koehler et al., 2013). The TPACK framework recognizes the three bodies of teachers’ knowledge and the interactions among them described as CK (content knowledge), PK (pedagogical knowledge), and TK (technological knowledge; Koehler et al., 2013).
CK is the teacher’s expert knowledge in the given subject area. It is referred to as “what” teachers teach, including a given discipline’s facts, concepts, and theories. CK implies that the teacher knows what and when to teach and is likely comfortable with content knowledge. (Common Sense Education, 2016; Crompton, 2016; Koehler et al., 2013).
PK is how teachers teach while using their expert knowledge of the art and science of teaching. Teachers who are proficient in this body of knowledge know how to transfer knowledge using different assessments, instructional strategies, and learning theories. Being successful with the components of PK allows the teacher to create meaningful and relevant learning experiences for their students (Common Sense Education, 2016; Crompton, 2016; Koehler et al., 2013).
TK is the understanding of available technologies in teaching and learning. It represents teacher knowledge about the tools, including selecting, using, and integrating technology into the curriculum (Crompton, 2016). Koehler et al. (2013) stated that TK is more difficult to define than CK and PK because technology is ever-changing. Penning a definition of technology would be obsolete when the definition was published. Instead, Koehler et al. recommended defining TK with a definition proposed by the National Research Council Committee on Information Technology Literacy (1999), which defined fluency with information technology this way: "Persons understand information technology broadly enough to apply it productively at work and in their everyday lives, to recognize when information technology can assist or impede the achievement of a goal, and to continually adapt to changes in information technology" (p. 15).
It is worth noting that people may have an abundance of technological knowledge. Still, they may not necessarily be able to apply it in the context of education. Technological knowledge does not imply focusing solely upon the hardware. Instead, it emphasizes the quality of the content available through digital resources (Crompton, 2016).
At the intersections of CK, PK, and TK are the interactions of each body of knowledge: PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge), TCK (Technological Content Knowledge), TPK (Technological Pedagogical Knowledge), and TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge). PCK occurs when Content and Pedagogical Knowledge are combined. When used effectively, PK and CK complement one another, allowing CK to transfer to the student as the CK and PK outcomes align (Common Sense Education, 2016; Crompton, 2016).
DO YOU HAVE AN EXAMPLE?
Using the example of teaching a student how to strike a golf ball may demonstrate a crude (nontechnological) PCK example. A CK outcome might be defined by explaining the elements necessary to hit a golf ball. By incorporating PK, the students can leverage a hands-on instructional strategy after the teacher models how to hold a golf club and demonstrate a proper backswing, impact position, and follow-through. CK, or the what, is transferred through the how, also known as PK (Common Sense Education, 2016; Crompton, 2016).
For example, the student learns what a properly struck golf ball is and then transfers this content knowledge through the modeling and demonstrating of PK activities. The teacher can then follow with additional input and reinforcement, providing deeper learning and assessment opportunities for the original CK outcome.
In this lesson, the student is engaged in a deep level of critical thinking for this knowledge and skill to transfer. Assessing critical thinking does not only apply to “school.” It applies to everyday life and issues significant to the community. Providing an opportunity for critical thinking in conjunction with real-world contexts makes learning relevant and is a recommendation of P21 (Dilley, Kaufman, Kennedy, & Plucker, 2015).
According to Koehler et al. (2013), TCK “is an understanding of the manner in which technology and content influence and constrain one another” (p. 16). Within TCK, teachers must master more than the content they teach; they must also understand how the subject matter can be modified by utilizing particular technologies (Koehler et al., 2013). TCK is used to further understand of a topic. Using the previous golf analogy, students could use a recording device such as an iPhone or iPad using interactive software to review their backswing, impact position, and follow-through. TPK “is an understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways” (Koehler et al., 2013, p. 16). For the teacher, this means how to best choose and manage the technology selection for students and implies that TK and PK are effectively used together (Common Sense Education, 2016; Crompton, 2016). Continuing with the golfing example, a student could utilize software such as Hudl Technique Golf to evaluate and improve their golf swing. The student can document and share their findings while seeking feedback about their backswing, impact position, and follow-through from peers and experts in the field.
21st-century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are actively engaged in this TPK example. The use of technology facilitates additional feedback for students that were previously unavailable. The delivery of 21st-century skills, such as communication, is inserted when using the TPACK framework at the lesson design phase.
As teachers design lessons, they should determine what type of communication the students will develop and use, such as oral, written, or visual, and think about assessing the communication in their work. In the above golf example, the audience would include a community of golfers, amateurs, and experts, who, in addition to the teacher, could provide an assessment and feedback for the student’s progress (Dilley et al., 2015).
In conclusion, TPACK reminds teachers to focus on content and pedagogy first and technology second. TPACK provides a framework for successfully integrating 21st-century skills and technology in the classroom (Common Sense Education, 2018; Crompton, 2016; Sheninger, 2016). TPACK additionally provides a framework to ensure the ISTE Standards are the outcome for effective classroom technology integration. The TPACK framework should guide teachers to effectively design and facilitate a lesson that integrates technology to promote high levels of student learning.
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