Archive for June, 2010


CeLC 2010 – my thoughts

June 24, 2010

I was able to spend the whole day at CeLC 2010 today.  It was a great first conference to attend.  Everyone involved is so very smart and knowledgable about technology and the use of technology in learning.

I presented again today.  This time it was in a panel session with Brad, Peggy, and Cathy.  They are such wonderful people and I think the session went well.  I don’t think too many of them were aware of McLuhan and McLuhan’s tetrad or Don Ihde’s Human-Technology Relations.  These two frameworks are, in my opinion, so very beneficial to analysing the potential affects of technology one introduced into the classroom or learning environment.

One of the audience members mentioned, regarding Peggy’s tetrad work on the iPod, that it didn’t obsolesce note taking, students just didn’t take notes as a result of having access to podcasted lectures.  I think this is a perfect exampleof how the tetrad can be used.  By going through the excercise, teachers can see that there is an affect that is unwelcome and they can plan accordingly.  In this case, a teacher could ensure that students were doing some note taking as they listened to the podcast.  This could be as simple as having students use their notes to create a summary.  The summary could be used as a formative or summative piece.  The tetrad and Ihde’s framework provide a lens to critically evaluate the technology.  I believe this is the greatest asset in completing the excercise of using these tools to evaluate technology; a more clearer picture of the technology becomes available and the technology can be evaluated.

Thanks to everyone for making the past two days a success.  I hope that this is the first conference of many.


CELC 2010: An Introduction to TPACK

June 23, 2010

Below is the text of a presentation I did at the 2010 Canadian E-Learning Conference.

In most of today’s schools, there is increasing access to educational technology. Computers, both in a lab setting and mobile, the internet, interactive whiteboards, and web 2.0 tools are among the list of technologies that are at the forefront of educational technology tools available for teacher use in schools. Technology available in educational settings and technologies specifically designed for the classroom are continually increasing and there is pressure within the school from administrators and externally from parents to introduce these technologies to students (Jackson, 2004). This is understandable as digital literacy is becoming more important.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, those who have limited understanding of digital literacy will not be able to function in the digital economy that exists or the larger society as a whole. Matt Koehler and Punya Mishra (2005) offer a framework for teachers to use that will assist in the implementation of technology into the classroom. Technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge are the three components that make up the TPACK framework. Each component on its own is very important, but in order to effectively integrate technology into the teaching of a lesson or concept, it is vital that each component be considered with the other two in order to make decisions about the use of the technology. Research and scholarly writing about TPACK and its uses is becoming much more prevalent in technology related journals and articles. As TPACK is a framework and can be applied in different settings and situations, each of the articles uses TPACK to focus on a different part of technology education.

The ideas for TPACK has been discussed in prior literature, but the name and the basics of TPACK were brought to the forefront by Koehler and Mishra in 2005 and they have continued to write and develop ideas regarding the use of TPACK to integrate technology into teaching. Koehler and Mishra developed the idea of TPACK from the work of Lee Shulman (1986) who formulated ideas on the combining of teacher pedagogical knowledge and teacher content knowledge.

This previously unconsidered knowledge is what Shulman describes as the “missing paradigm” (p. 7). Teachers are able to be better teachers if they understand how to teach, the content they are teaching, and an understanding of how to teach a certain content area. Mishra and Koehler (2006) included technology into the Shulman pedagogical content knowledge to form technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK). Mishra and Koehler describe TPACK as the “thoughtful interweaving of all three key sources of knowledge” (p. 1029).

Where each one of the knowledge bases converges upon each other sits TPACK. The notion of TPACK is gaining more and more interest. With the TPACK framework formed, many new areas of study and advancement became possible. a wiki-style website developed by Mishra and Koehler cites over 55 articles written regarding TPACK in 2009 alone.  It is understandable to me that there is so much research being conducted.  The complexity of TPACK leads to lots of questions being asked and lots of different ways to research the topic in order to answer those questions. The complexity of TPACK is a little bit like trying to juggle.  It is not that easy.

The TPACK framework is currently being used in many different ways by a variety of scholars to advance technology use in teaching and within specific subject areas. A review of the literature does begin to make evident that certain topics are receiving more attention.

A few of the major topics include TPACK’s use in pre-service teacher education programs (So & Kim, 2009; Williams, Foulger & Wetzel, 2009), how TPACK can be used in in-service teacher professional development (Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009; Niess, 2005), and the benefits of teaching within the TPACK within a variety of subject areas (Bauer, 2009; Brush & Saye, 2009; Bull, Hammond & Ferster, 2008; Harris & Hofer, 2009). Another theme that can be derived from most of the TPACK literature is the constructivist approaches that TPACK related activities take on (Graham et al., 2009; Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009; Koehler & Mishra, 2005; Koehler, Mishra & Yahya, 2007; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Suharwoto & Lee, 2005). Through identification and investigation of these themes, a more thorough understanding of the scholarly material related to TPACK begins to form.  I will be focusing on TPACK development in pre-service teacher education, in-service professional development, and the constructivist aspect of TPACK.  TPACK as it relates to subject specific contexts will be infused throughout the presentation.

The relative newness of TPACK leads to a lack of implementation of TPACK discussions in post-secondary teacher education programs. Williams, Foulger, and Wetzel (2009) assert that the dynamic shifts in technology have created pressure to meet the educational needs of students in the classroom. Dexter and Reidel (2003), indicate that in order for pre-service teachers to use technologies in the classroom, they must have opportunities to use similar technologies in their learning in post-secondary teacher education programs. The project developed by Dexter and Reidel had pre-service teachers engaging with technologies in the context of subject areas that they would be teaching in, clearly in line with the TPACK framework.

Niess (2008) declares that “tomorrow’s teachers must be prepared to rethink, unlearn and relearn, change revise and adapt.” (p. 225) Williams et al. describes a change in approach to technology education for pre-service teachers. Instead of having a course strictly geared towards learning technology, a course change would reflect a desire to teach pre-service educators how to learn new technologies “on their own and implement them in a meaningful way when the specific teaching and learning needs arose in [the pre-service educator’s] classrooms.” (p. 396)

The teaching of technology applications, such as word processing software or presentation software, to pre-service teachers does not provide the necessary skills to integrate new technologies once pre-service educators enter the field. In essence, they are not receiving the TPACK knowledge necessary. The focus is only on the technology and there is a minimum of focus on the interconnectedness of technology, pedagogy, and content (Nelson, Christopher, and Mims, 2009). Niess (2008) has similar opinions on the topic, stating,

Enhancing methods courses to consider TPCK’s ways of thinking requires that preservice teachers are more likely engaged in changing their mindsets and behaviors established from their own personal learning experiences when learning to plan, organize, critique, and abstract for their specific content, specific student needs, and specific classroom situations. (p. 226)

Learning to teach cannot be done in modular sections where just one of the constructs (technology, pedagogy, or content) is taught in isolation, but rather, it should be taught collectively in an integrated manner (Koehler & Mishra, 2005; So & Kim, 2009).

For example, a group of pre-service language arts teachers discussing Shakespeare might have an assignment to develop podcasts of a radio show featuring the works of William Shakespeare.  This type of assignment will allow the pre-service teachers an opportunity to learn about curricular objectives, focus on a particular content, and engage in a technology that is relevant to the subject area.

Change will occur at the post-secondary level with regards to technology integration, but as with all change in post-secondary environments, this will not occur quickly. I can only speak of what I have experienced and it appears to me that the Faculty of Education at the U of A is working to create more technology integration opportunities for students.  If this is not the case for pre-service teachers, they will be at a disadvantage when they enter practicum opportunities or enter the profession on a full time basis. Pre-service teachers will need to develop technology integration skills independently should their department or faculty not model appropriate integration skills for the vast array of technologies capable of serving a purpose in elementary and secondary classrooms or they will need to wait until professional development opportunities arise.

In appraising the literature on TPACK, it is very evident that developing TPACK cannot occur in a single isolated event. Perhaps it is possible to get the basics of what TPACK is, such as in this brief presentation, but it is certainly not possible to develop an ability to understand how to use it in an effective manner. Koehler and Mishra (2005) state:

In order to go beyond the simple “skills instruction” view offered by the traditional workshop approach, we have argued that it is necessary to teach technology in contexts that honor the rich connections between technology, the subject – matter (content) and the means of teaching it (the pedagogy). (p.148)

Further to this statement, Harris, Koehler, and Mishra (2009) state, “TPACK is most helpful when not described in isolation from techniques for developing it. It is not however, a professional development model.” (p. 402-403). Harris et al. go one step further to describe that TPACK is a framework that does not prescribe a program of learning but, it is compatible with a variety of professional development approaches. Harris (personal communication, January 18, 2010) agreed to the statement that the TPACK framework was not an “instruction manual”, but more like a guide. The TPACK framework provides structure for teachers and researchers to develop and create professional development programs or courses that will assist teachers with technology integration.

Graham et al. (2009), studied in-service science teachers who were engaged in an eight day professional development program. The teachers participated in two days of interactive classroom instruction and six days of authentic in-depth study of scientific concepts and scientific inquiry. From this, teachers developed and implemented lessons for their classroom that were then reflected upon. Graham et al. found that there was a greater confidence by the teachers with regards to TPACK after this style of professional development opportunity.

I would argue that school districts and professional development organizations need to look at implementing an approach to professional development focusing on increased experience with a topic over an extended period of time as opposed to the one day workshop.  The one day approach will not allow for the depth required to fully understand TPACK and to successfully integrate technology into the curriculum. From various personal experiences, I have found that the one day workshop does not allow for time to completely take in all of the information presented. The audience is often spoken to and at and is not allowed an opportunity to enter into meaningful discussion about the topic at hand. Teachers are then sent back to the classroom to try and regurgitate or implement the material they have learned. With the demands placed upon teachers when they return to the classroom, implementing new approaches or teaching techniques is not likely.

The research that is available is not substantial, but Harris (2008) does provide some insight into in-service teacher development of TPACK. Harris contends that teachers need to be aware of a wide range of learning activities for different content areas.  Teachers will then be able to begin making decisions about which activities will have a positive benefit in the classroom. Harris also asserts that TPACK related activities need to exist in appropriate contexts. By appropriate, Harris contends that it is better for a mathematics teacher to discover technology activities that could be implemented into a mathematics classroom to begin to fully understand TPACK, but it would not be appropriate for that same teacher to have elementary science examples used to explain TPACK. Judi Harris and Mark Hofer have worked to develop the actual activity types for various content areas. Harris and Hofer have also developed a wiki for a information related to activity types.  I would argue that an more effective approach for in-service teachers, that would be more compatible with the demands of teachers, is problem solving working groups. This particular professional development model would have teacher groups of any sort (K – 6 generalists, junior high social studies teachers, or a group of teachers from the same school) working together to further develop their TPACK related skills by solving problems related to their content area. Harris supports this ideas when she states, “TPCK-related professional development for experienced teachers should promote both autonomous and collaborative instructional decision-making while simultaneously encouraging open-minded consideration of new instructional methods, tools and resources.” (p. 267). In order to further develop problem solving working groups, I would suggest that teachers be charged with a task similar to the game played in the Mishra and Koehler (2008) SITE keynote. Mishra and Koehler gave the audience the task of selecting a course (content) and a technology and working together to determine any pedagogical considerations. I believe that the same problem posed to in-service teachers could lead to more effective professional development.

Harris and Hofer discuss similar ideas in their 2009 article and via their wiki. The idea is that if the same content can be learned at the same level through non-technological means, the need to use technology must be for the sake of the technology and not for the sake of enhancing student learning. Teachers need to be considerate of the reasons why technology is being used and ask themselves if the use of the technology is truly serving a purpose. In a workshop led by Judi Harris, numerous attendees identified situations where the technology was not beneficial for the student.  In response Harris asked, “Is using the technology really worth it, then?”  In using problem-solving working groups based on curricular demands with a consideration of whether technology is even the right answer or not, teachers will begin to develop their TPACK skills and have greater success at integrating technology effectively into the classroom should they deem the technology appropriate.

Constructivism and TPACK

The literature related to TPACK suggests that TPACK is not a program, a course, or a workshop (Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009; Koehler, Mishra & Yahya, 2007). Rather, TPACK is a way of looking at technology and how it relates to content and pedagogy of teachers. More specifically, TPACK lays down a framework of thinking related to content, pedagogy, and technology that allows teachers to design their lessons to appropriately integrate technology. In the review of the literature, there was consistently a companion to TPACK in the form of a constructivist approach (Graham et al., 2009; Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009; Koehler & Mishra, 2005; Koehler, Mishra & Yahya, 2007; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Suharwoto & Lee, 2005) Specifically, Koehler and Mishra (2005) state:

By participating in design, teachers build something that is sensitive to the subject matter (instead of learning the technology in general) and the specific instructional goals (instead of general ones). Authentic tasks do not respect disciplinary boundaries. Therefore, every aspect of design is always a process of weaving together components of technology, content, and pedagogy. (p. 135)

The approach to constructivist programming to assist with TPACK development varied from developing online courses (Koehler, Mishra & Yahya, 2007) to the development of lessons that integrate technology (Suharwoto & Lee, 2005). What became evident was that developing TPACK was not a one shot class on technology or a professional development workshop on a computing tool. TPACK is a way of thinking about how technology entwines itself into the content that is being taught and how the content is being taught. As such, the process of fully developing technology integrated content areas is a process learned through creating or developing a project or product. Suharwoto and Lee (2005) describe a teacher preparation program that involves both in class coursework with school based internship. As part of the internship three consecutive lessons must involve the integration of technology for the purpose of teaching a mathematical concept. It is very clear that the students involved in this course are required to create something that never existed before. Koehler et al. (2007) conducted a study in which two groups of university faculty and graduate students worked together to develop an online course. Faculty and students were responsible for developing content, course outlines, assignments, assessment pieces, and design the look of the online course. Koehler et al. describe the process as learning technology by design. The results of this study showed that over time students “develop[ed] deeper understandings of the complex web of relationships between content, pedagogy and technology and the context within which they function” (Koehler et al., 2007, 758).

Barbour, Rieber, Thomas and Rauscher (2009) use PowerPoint, within a TPACK framework, in a K-12 setting to have students create games based on the content they are learning. Students then have their fellow classmates play the games in order to learn or review the material. This activity is beneficial to the both the students creating the game and the students actually playing the game.

As evident by these studies, constructivist approaches within the context of TPACK development lead to a greater understanding of TPACK and increased ability by participants to integrate technology into specific content. The Barbour et al. (2009) study shows that students can benefit from constructivist learning as well, when TPACK is considered in the development of the technology for use in the classroom.

Conclusion and further research

In reviewing literature on Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, it is very apparent that this framework is still in its infancy. As today’s students are actively engaged in technology and there is greater diversity in the technology that is available to them in the classroom, teachers are looking for ways to integrate technology, but there is a gap in knowledge between the use of a computer program or web 2.0 application and the effectiveness of the tool in a classroom setting. The gap is the ability on the part of teachers to successfully consider the substantial interconnectedness of technology, pedagogy and content. If teachers can increase their knowledge of these three constructs in isolation, but also between each other and jointly, the potential for more successful integration becomes apparent.

There is much research that can still have an impact on pre-service teacher, in-service teacher, and student learning. The Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators is a good first document and I suspect it will see many editions as more and more research becomes available. The handbook brings some of the leading researchers together to bring a variety of perspectives together on a topic that is changing the way in which technology is integrated into the classroom. Specifically, there is a need to further develop the understanding in content areas related to TPACK. From elementary generalists teaching a variety of subject areas to secondary teachers in content rich courses, more exploration needs to be done. Each of these unique areas has equally unique situations that will require “creative solutions” to solve “wicked problems” as described by Mishra and Koehler (2008). The work of Harris and Hofer (2009) on subject area activity types is a great step forward towards technology integration in content areas.  Equally as important is further investigation and research into post-secondary teacher education programs and the level of technology integration information that is being shared with undergraduates. The focus in these institutions needs to move from content focus and technology focus being completely separate from each other to more of a hybrid model where opportunities to consider content and technology simultaneously. Teacher education professors will need to change the approach to teaching undergraduate pre-service teachers. It will not be sufficient to simply talk about technology and ask how technology could be used. Instead, there will need to be practice on regular intervals in monitored settings to see that pre-service teachers are moving forward in their learning of how to integrate technology into classroom teaching. Content area instructors will need to be the models of this technology integration. If professors are not knowledgeable about how to technology can be integrated, there will be a necessity to create professional development opportunities for these instructors. Finally, increased research into professional development of in-service teachers who are beginning to teach a new wave of students that is dramatically different from the previous generation of students. TPACK is a framework that will give teachers the knowledge to develop their technology integration skills, but it must be incorporated into a professional development model. It is this infusion that requires more study. TPACK is still in the early stages of its development and the applications of its use are still being determined through research and practice, but there are a number of researchers that have started the process of fully vetting the framework. I suspect this will continue for the foreseeable future.

For those of you who are interested in the continued development of the TPACK framework, I would make the TPACK wiki at the first place to begin tracking it. The wiki is continually updated with current research listings and there is a quarterly news letter that provides current information on TPACK developments.

I would just like to thank all of you for attending today. This is my first conference experience as a presenter and you all made me feel very welcome.  I will be posting the text and powerpoint for this presentation to my blog.  It is accessible at

An Introduction to TPACK Powerpoint


Barbour, M.K., Reiber, L.P., Thomas, G., & Rauscher, D. (2009). Homemade PowerPoint games: Constructionist alternative to WebQuests. Tech Trends, 53(5), 54-59.

Bauer, B. (2009). “Music Teachers and Technology: The TPACK Framework” at the Society for Music Teacher Education’s 2009 Symposium on Music Teacher Education: Enacting Shared Visions, September 10-12, 2009 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. (Presentation)

Brush, T., & Saye, J.W. (2009). Strategies for preparing preservice social studies teachers to integrate technology effectively: Models and practices. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. (9)1. Retrieved from

Bull, G., Hammond, T., & Ferster, B. (2008). Developing web 2.0 tools for support of historical inquiry in social studies. Computers in the Schools, 25(3), 275-287.

Dexter, S., & Riedel, E. (2003). Why improving pre-service teacher educational technology preparation must go beyond the college’s walls. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(4), 334-346.

Graham, C. R., Burgoyne, N., Cantrell, P., Smith, L., St. Clair, L., & Harris, R. (2009). TPACK development in science teaching: Measuring the TPACK confidence of inservice science teachers. TechTrends, 53(5), 70-79.

Harris, J.B. (2008). TPCK in in-service education: Assisting experienced teachers’ “planned improvisations”. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators (p. 251 – 271). New York: Published by Routledge for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Harris, J. & Hofer, M. (2009).  Instructional planning activity types as vehicles for curriculum-based TPACK development. In C. D. Maddux, (Ed.). Research highlights in technology and teacher Education 2009 (pp. 99-108). Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE).

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.

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Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators (p. 3 – 29). New York: Published by Routledge for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Koehlor, M. J., Mishra, P., & Yahya, K. (2007). Tracing the development of teacher knowledge in a design seminar: Integrating content, pedagogy and technology. Computer and Education. 49(3), 740-762.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record. 108(6), 1017-1054.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2008) Thinking creatively: Teachers as designers of technology, pedagogy and content (TPACK). . Video posted to

Nelson, J, Christopher, A., & Mims, C. (2009). TPACK and web2.0: Transformation of teaching and learning. TechTrends, 53(5), 80-85.

Niess, M. L. (2005). Preparing teachers to teach science and mathematics with technology: Developing a technology pedagogical content knowledge. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 509-523

Niess, M. L. (2008). Guiding preservice teachers in developing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators (p. 223 – 250). New York: Published by Routledge for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Shulman, L. S. (1986).  Those who understand:  Knowledge growth in teaching.  Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

So, H-J., & Kim, B. (2009). Learning about problem based learning: Student teacher integrating technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 25(1), 101-116.

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Suharwoto, G and Lee, K. H. (2005, March 1 – 5). Assembling the pieces together: What are the most influential components in mathematics preservice teachers’ development of technology pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK)? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Technology & Teacher Education, Phoenix, Arizona. Retrieved from ERIC database (ED490649)

TPACK. (2009). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Retrieved from

Williams, M.K., Foulger, T.S., & Wetzel, K. (2009). Preparing preservice teachers for 21st century classrooms: Transforming attitudes and behaviors about innovative technology. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 17(3), 393-418.