“Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you
no man ask for
Lyrics to “Under Pressure” (Mercury, Taylor, Deacon, May, Bowie)
Help! Make it STOP!
This is the sentiment of many of my colleagues, and, I must admit, my own feeling from time to time. The quick rate of change and rapid introduction of new apps, software and other technologies to the field is enough to make anyone feel like they are sinking under a tidal wave of new things to learn, master, and keep ahead of. How does one even begin to keep up? According to Mishra, Koehler, and Kereluik (2009):
Highly acclaimed educational technologies emerge at an ever-increasing pace… If technology is always changing and jumping from one “revolutionary” invention to the next, then, in the time it takes to learn how to use that technology, it has already become obsolete. This rapid rate of change means that there is increasing pressure on teachers to learn new ways to integrate technology with their teaching. A few decades ago, teachers could expect that the technologies they used for teaching (e.g., blackboards, TV, video, overhead projectors) would remain reasonably stable through their careers. That expectation is clearly unrealistic for today’s teachers and for generations of teachers to come. (pp.49-50)
Catching a break
Luckily, there is a lifeboat on the horizon. There is another way! As educators, we don’t have to feel swamped and pulled in new directions by every new technology to hit the market. The key comes from examining the integration of technology using the lens of TPACK. “The TPCK framework describes how teachers’ understandings of technology, pedagogy, and content can interact with one another to produce effective discipline-based teaching with educational technologies” (Harris, Mishra, & Koehler, 2009, p.4).
I had previously read about TPACK and discussed it with teaching colleagues, but it wasn’t until I really began to explore the concepts of the equal importance of content knowledge and pedagogy to the use of technology that the light bulbs really began to go off for me. Mishra, Koehler and Kereluik (2009) pose the question:
How does the TPACK framework offer a new way of thinking about educational technology? First, by stressing how technology interacts with pedagogy and content, innovations are not necessarily relevant for teaching. Instead, emphasis is put on evaluating the entire teaching performance, not just one aspect of it (e.g., technology). Second, using the TPACK framework helps educators reason about which technologies are worth learning; not to learn every technology and then figure out how to apply it. Instead, educators should be able to quickly evaluate new technologies in terms of how they will present content or facilitate pedagogy. (p.51)
How does considering TPACK help us? Can it relieve some of the pressure? Can it really be that simple? Well – the answer is yes…and no. There is no magic involved, and passivity isn’t an option. There will be no running and hiding our head in the sand like ostriches… We need to actively and intentionally stay involved in discussion – locally within our schools and in a broader way through our Personal Learning Network (PLN). We need to read and ask questions and experiment and be creative and be willing to try and fail and try again. We need to succeed and tell others about our journey. We need to be proactive and thoughtful. According to Mishra, Koehler and Kereluik (2009):
This new approach calls for creativity and ingenuity on the part of teachers and teacher educators, as well as a way of looking at educational technology that goes beyond continuously “chasing” the latest and greatest innovation. It is only by paying attention to deeper ideas and more enduring ideas of teaching (while being open to new possibilities being brought about by new tools), and by developing strategies and approaches that are flexible and context sensitive, that we can best serve our students. pp. 50-51)
Does understanding the importance of TPACK make you feel any less overwhelmed? Does it make you feel better to know you don’t have to stand alone and block the tidal wave, but rather, learn to skillfully surf?
Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416. Retrieved from: http://mkoehler.educ.msu.edu/OtherPages/Koehler_Pubs/TECH_BY_DESIGN/AERA_2007/AERA2007_HarrisMishraKoehler.pdf
Mishra, P., Koehler, M.J., & Kereluik, K. (2009). The song remains the same: Looking back to the future of educational technology. Retrieved from: http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/Mishra-Koehler-Kereluik-techtrends09.pdf