Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK)

Gillow-Wiles, H., Niess, M. & van Zee, E. (2010) Knowledge growth in teaching mathematics/ science with spreadsheets: Moving PCK to TPACK through online professional development. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. Vol. 27

Gillow-Wise, Neiss and van Zee researched a framework to assist in the educational technology professional development of teachers in this article. Teacher education has always focused on Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). However, this article explores expanding PCK to Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK.) TPACK was developed as a result of a need to place more emphasis of educational technology and how it must be effectively interwoven into content and pedagogical knowledge to optimize student achievement in the 21st century. Some educators may feel more comfortable instructing students in the they were taught, which may include instructionism, with minimal to no technology integration. Gillow-Wise, Neiss and van Zee recognized that this is evident in some instructional practices and needs to be addressed in order to differentiate TPACK according to educators’ educational technology experience. Therefore, Gillow-Wise, Neiss and van Zee discussed the following spectrum to classify teachers: “With the lens of four TPACK components (Niess, 2005), the analysis describes teachers’ development from recognizing to accepting, adapting, and exploring TPACK levels.” (Gillow-Wise, Neiss & van Zee, 2010, p. 42). These are pertinent classifications, which provide a baseline for educators’ educational technology integration skills and assist in scaffolding educational technology professional development accordingly. The goal is to assist educators with evolving on this spectrum, which will lead to higher level cognition, student centered technology instruction and optimize student achievement. In addition, this article focuses on using technological spreadsheets as a method to facilitate algebraic thinking, inferencing and inquiry based learning in math and science instruction. It explores teachers’ integration of spreadsheets and analyzed student learning outcomes from spreadsheet instruction.

This article provides valuable information in the field of educational technology because it addresses that educators are on various levels of the spectrum of TPACK. There are some educators that prefer PCK as opposed to TPACK, which is demonstrated in how they instruct learners. Therefore, educators can benefit from explicit TPACK professional development that is specific to their domain of education. I also believe that showing the application of successful TPACK, instead of telling educators that it is needed, would provide more progress in the field of educational technology. This article focuses on the use of spreadsheets as an effective technology tool. However, there are many other educational technologies that students can benefit from, such as digital storytelling, Digital Game Based Learning (DGBL) and an assortment of other educational technologies that should also be emphasized in effective instruction.

As an educator, TPACK provides me with a better understanding of the complexity and interwoven nature of educational technology integration into instruction. It explains how traditional PCK becomes more robust when TPACK is implemented, since teachers must consider technological content knowledge as well as technological pedagogical knowledge, and how to best integrate it into their domain of instruction. Therefore, thoughtful and meaningful planning must occur to achieve the best results of TPACK in instruction.

Related Article:

Howrey, S. (2016) Preparing pre-service teachers for TPCK in the reading content area: Insights from an action research study. Literacy Practice & Research.