CEP 810: Cooking with TPACK

Education, Technology

This morning’s activity exploring content, pedagogy, technology, and the relationships between them hit me right where much of my thinking is devoted: my stomach and where the next source of food is coming from. It served as a delicious (well done, everyone) analogy and starting point for discussion. Of course, we are taking time out of summer because we also have another type of appetite, one for knowledge that will guide us in becoming more effective teachers and learners. I believe TPACK will be a useful map in guiding us, and if we continue in the MAET program, one that we will refer back to often.

My first exposure to TPACK came when I stumbled across “The 7 trans-disciplinary habits of mind: Extending the TPACK framework towards 21st Century Learning” (Mishra, Koehler, & Henrikson, 2010). I had been searching for research that addressed measurable results of teaching creative skills, and while this paper has a different focus, it had enough of an impact that I felt motivated to share it with several colleagues at the museum. Dr. Mishra’s blog post linked to an extended version of the paper that articulated much of what I was attempting to do in my current position: define teachable creative skills; explore trans-disciplinary learning (I called it cross-curricular prior to this); and connect it to recent technology. I found that I was having a difficult time keeping track of the many different threads that can lead off of broad topics such as these, so having a defined framework to better organize my thoughts around was very helpful.

I take to heart the notion implied from pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) that one can have rich content knowledge in a field, such as mathematics, but not have the pedagogical knowledge to teach it effectively (Mishra & Koehler, 2009). My first year of teaching math demonstrated to me that there was a large divide between knowing a concept and helping others develop a deep understanding of it. I also have come to appreciate the necessary context in which thinking skills are taught, since in the past I have tried to generalize problem solving skills useful in many disciplines. Research on creativity shows that the relationship between skills that allow you to contribute within a discipline and the discipline itself is complex, that “creativity is both domain general and domain specific” (Mishra, Koehler, & Henrikson, 2010, p. 24). I try to find ways to demonstrate both applications in my teaching.

I recognize that there are many forms of technology that are domain specific, but partly due to exposure to the maker movement, I also see many forms of technology as being flexible in unexpected ways, as the different tools from this morning’s activity demonstrated. Computers are, perhaps by definition, an ideal example of this, such as using computers a canvas to create art with code. We should still recognize the limitations of what a computer or other forms of technology can do, as I see students with a gross misunderstanding of how computers work and can aid us, especially as software becomes more sophisticated and “human-like.”

What I would like to explore further is the relationship between technology and pedagogy. Are there tools that are better suited to a particular teaching method than others? For instance, if I were to place an emphasis on open-inquiry in my teaching, would the tools I use be more flexible as a result, since students could then decide how to best use them? Would that lead to an over-emphasis on some kinds of tools that we should be mindful of? The point raised on allowing our choice of tools to reflect the diversity of learning styles in our classroom is also intriguing; I know Oakland ISD provides a lot of support to their districts in this regard. The time needed for students to learn how to effectively use these tools also requires further thought, as that is a common barrier that teachers bring up when trying to integrate new tools.

Some of the comments I heard after the activity reflected some of the discussions with classmates before the day started, namely that the TPACK framework appears very simple and reflects what we’ve always done. As Zach C. brought up, teachers have always had to consider the relationships between the content, pedagogy and available tools, not just recently but for as long as teaching has occurred. For a long time, the pedagogy and technology might not have been explored as deeply, as it would have been “how I like to teach” and “tools at hand”. There are still teachers today who approach it this way, thinking mostly about content and not exploring the options available in the other components. TPACK gives us that nudge to explore all three concepts perhaps equally, as well as the complex interactions between them.

One last thought that resulted from some of the Twitter discussions this weekend: many of the tools we use were created for a commercial purpose. The company who made the tool has a vested interest in having their users continue to use their tool and in such a way that serves the company the best, not necessarily the users. We should explore more tools that are student and teacher created.


Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18.

Mishra, P., Koehler, M.J., & Henriksen, D. (2011). The Seven Trans-Disciplinary Habits of Mind: Extending the TPACK Framework Towards 21 st Century learning. Educational Technology, 51(2) 22-28.

One thought on “CEP 810: Cooking with TPACK

  1. Great post–

    “What I would like to explore further is the relationship between technology and pedagogy. Are there tools that are better suited to a particular teaching method than others? ” Great point, how do we line up technology with pedgagogy- I’m struggling with how online learning can be used to facilitate experiential learning.

    tools that were created for a commercial purchase- agreed, this is a challenge! The technology/tools created don’t have direct interaction with the content or pedagogy. How do we fill that gap? it’s also difficult because their is a lag between the technology creation/innovation and the teaching/learning that it is used for- interesting that is where the $$ is!

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