Monday, January 11, 2010

Chickens and Eggs, Teaching and Pedagogy

I just happened upon a fabulously interesting article from the THE Journal while doing some research for my Capstone course. The article discusses this premise: "Why is a generation of teachers more knowledgeable about technology than any before it arriving in classrooms with little understanding of how to teach with it?"  Quite the quandry, it would seem, but the article makes a very good point-- without the the content knowledge, the technology is rendered useless in furthering student learning.  Fortunately, many teacher prep programs across the country are coming to this understanding, and instead of focusing on how to use specific technology applications, the focus has shifted instead to excellent teaching strategies that take advantage of education, following the TPACK method, which stands for technological pedagogical content knowledge. 

The article states it best: "TPACK says that you have to know three things to use technology well. You first have to know the content. It's going to be hard to teach calculus if you don't know calculus yourself. You also need to know the pedagogy associated with that content-- the instructional strategies that will be effective. Finally, you need to know the innovation or technology that you're going to then use."

What I like about this explanation is how it points to the inherent simplicity coupled with the awesome power that comes with being an educational professional. Statements like this quickly quiet those who say anyone can teach or teaching is for those who "can't."  There isn't anything quite the same as an educator who is intentional and committed and passionate and knowledgeable about their content and pedagogy.  When the content and pedagogy is supported by technology, they become unstoppable in the classroom, bringing student learning to greater heights. 

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