Pedagogical ideas like student centered learning, collaboration, and critical thinking have been around for a long time and are slowly making the way into the classroom. When technology came into play in schools, there was a big focus on technology tools and acquiring tech skills. Nowadays, there is a perception that technology has to be seamless and the main focus is on pedagogy. I couldn’t agree more. But is that happening because technology is actually shoving pedagogy to the center stage? If yes, what are the implications for teacher professional development in the age of fast technological changes?
So let’s have a quick look at TPACK. If you haven’t seen TPACK yet, it is a model created by Mishara & Koehler to describe the types of knowledge a teacher needs to have in order to integrate technology in their teaching. So this model states that content, pedagogical and technological knowledge are all equally necessary.
But as I was reading a blog post by Krista Moroder on “Why I Don’t Use TPACK or SAMR with my Teachers” I also realized that the representation of each component of the TPACK model has indeed changed. Krista argues that pedagogical knowledge is the most important element in TPACK , while the need for content knowledge is being reduced and the role of technological knowledge is to support pedagogy.
I will take one step further to say that technology is no longer the focus because pedagogy and technology are actually merging… More and more we see how fast changing technology is part of the world and how that impacts the ways people learn. My perception is that the supporting role of technology in learning will only grow and tend to becomes seamless. But in order for technology to be seamless, teachers need to understand the impact of technology in learning. This is what Silvia Tolisano calls learning how to learn in this 21st century world. But teachers will only reach that level of “learning how to learn” by immersing in technologies that foster sharing, collaboration, innovation. That says something about the ubiquitous role of technology if you think about learning …
At the same time, pedagogy is growing in importance because of technology. Not only because technology has shoved student centered learning to the core of teaching, but also because pedagogical theories that were initially called upon to interpret the use of technology for learning are now being pushed by new boundaries created through technology itself. I believe that with global learning possibilities, big data, manufacturing & design crowd sourcing (see 3D printers), Google glass and augmented reality, just to mention a few, pedagogical theories of how we learn will have to be revised.
All that has to impact teacher training. Teachers need to be immersed and fluent in different digital tools, to be able to use those seamlessly in a flow while also assessing the impact of new technological developments that do not stop coming. At the same time, pedagogy has to be the central focus of training, as opposed to content knowledge. That is particularly true for Brazilian “licenciatura”, where a graduate from a specialist subject area needs to take only a few extra credits to become a school teacher. Only a minority will take a full “Pedagogy” undergraduate course. So content has traditionally been the focus of teacher training. But now, content is indeed extremely accessible because of technology, and the learning how to learn has become imperative. The push of technology has forced all of us to look closer to pedagogy and make it a priority. But as pedagogical ideas may change as well, we can no longer afford to imagine learning theories without considering an immersion in the digital world.
Thank you to Silvia Tolisano @langwitches for being a great thinking partner and helping review this post.
Image: Road by Rick Harrison. 2005. Creative Commons Attribution on Flickr. http://bit.ly/1iPTw2E