My CEP 810 class has been introduced to a framework for how to integrate technology into our classrooms and lesson plans, TPACK. TPACK stands for Technology Pedagogy And Content Knowledge. The idea is that correct implementation should be the the union of the domains of these topics. Teachers should consider what it is they are trying to teach, as well as best teaching practices, and what technology might best support or supplement those.
image pulled from: here
So as part of an effort to understand how TPACK best works, we were given an activity. We would have someone else select our tools, and then use them to complete a semi-random (drawing from a hat) cooking activity. The results of my activity are below.
The first thing that really struck me was the awkwardness of choosing the tools first. Normally, you would consider the task you are trying to perform, and then select the most optimal tools for completing that task. In the activity, I had to try to accomplish the task with decidedly less than optimal tools. This reflects how schools often pick up a technology and then ask teachers to adapt their lessons to it (school systems that integrated 1 to 1 iPads come to mind). This process is backwards. Schools and teachers should be looking first at what they are trying to teach and the best way to teach it, and then select the technology that best fits with that.
It can be tempting as a teacher to choose a really cool technology first and then adapt a lesson later. This can still be a successful strategy, so long as the learning goal comes first and foremost in the implementation. It might mean repurposing the technology, using it in a slightly different way than originally intended. This might mean using a photo app to explore geometric transformations as mentioned by Mishra (2012). In the case of my activity, it meant using the handle of the large spoon to retrieve and spread the jam.
The activity was a great demonstration of thinking through the TPACK process. Although I did not choose my technology, as teachers often are not able to do, I needed to use what I had available. I adapted what I had to a achieve the desired result, in this activity: making a sandwich, or in the case of teaching: learning.