Thursday, July 24, 2014

Design Thinking meets TPACK

I've been thinking about the part our new tech integration coaches will play next year in converting traditional classroom activities into high tech lesson plans.  In my last post I focused on the importance of starting with the pedagogy to make sure that it's the learning and not the technology that becomes the objective of the lessons.  The PYP is used as a curriculum framework in ASB's elementary school and  at the heart of the PYP is teachers planning collaboratively to design learning engagements for their students.  In a recent article in Learning and Leading with Technology Mark Hofer writes that "perhaps the most fundamental and persistent obstacle to effective tech integration is the complexity of knowledge it requires … it's not enough to simply find and learn how to use an interesting tool or resource.  [Teachers] must also determine the right fit between the tool, the curriculum, and the learning activity.  This kind of integrated knowledge is called technological, pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK)"

I've been thinking about TPACK and the collaborative design of curriculum as evidenced in the PYP, and I'm wondering about how we can use TPACK to redesign some of the units of inquiry for next year.  Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler, who developed the TPACK framework, refer to teachers developing their knowledge of all aspects of the TPACK model through "learning by design".  They describe how "teachers can collaboratively design a solution to an instructional challenge then put the solution to the test in the classroom, reflecting on and modifying it based on their experience".  While this sounds similar to the iterating and prototyping parts of design thinking, it also fits well into the planning of PYP units, where reflecting back on the student learning is an important part of the process.

In addition, teachers will need to develop their technological knowledge.  Our new tech integration coaches can help them as they learn how to use new technologies that can be used in the redesigned units of inquiry.  One important thing that I discovered this year is how important it is to create using the same tools that our students use.  During the last year I was able to do an Applied Storytelling course through ASB's Online Academy, which resulted in me making a short video to tell a story of my own.  This definitely gave me a lot of insight into what students go through as they write a script and search for the most appropriate media to combine into a multimedia presentation.  Teachers who try this out themselves first, will certainly come to have more understanding of how to pace the students' projects as well as how to troubleshoot any problems they may encounter, and at the same time will be developing what is often the weakest of the three areas of TPACK knowledge.   As we design some training for our new tech integration coaches, it seems to me that a knowledge of the TPACK framework is definitely going to be useful.

Photo Credit: Charles Graham via Compfight cc

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