Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age: What Is TPACK?

Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age: What Is TPACK?

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8879-5.ch001
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Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) is a dynamic theoretical description of teachers' knowledge for designing, implementing, and evaluating curriculum and instruction with digital technologies. TPACK portrays the complex interaction among content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge for guiding all teachers (K-12 and higher education faculty) in the strategic thinking of when, where, and how to direct students' learning with technologies. Teacher educators' and educational researchers' acceptance of the TPACK construct mirrors the acceptance of its parent construct of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). The importance of teachers' continued practice in integrating technologies is essential for extending and enhancing their TPACK. Connections with the knowledge-of-practice construct suggest calling TPACK TPACK-of-practice to more accurately describe the process of the knowledge development efforts for guiding inservice and preservice teachers in gaining, developing, and transforming their knowledge for teaching as new and more powerful technologies emerge for integration in education. Ultimately, the very nature of the TPACK construct describes a transformation of teachers' knowledge for teaching in the 21st century – a century reframed by robust and advanced technologies that have been integrated into the fabric of a more complex social, cultural, and educational environment.
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There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology but if the teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails. ~ Nancy Kassenbaum, U. S. Senator, n.d.

The explosion of digital technologies in the 21st century has changed how students learn. Today’s students are accustomed to gathering information quickly using robust and advanced technologies to accomplish more than they were able to do in the previous century (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 2016; Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2015; Prensky, 2001, 2011; Thoughtful Learning Organization, 2016). Students now use more graphics along with text in their communications, they function best when networked, and they more typically engage in multi-tasking. They prefer games and trial and error approaches for solving problems. They learn best when actively doing rather than watching. They prefer collaborative teamwork for completing tasks.

Now, teachers must recognize the differences in students’ learning preferences and must refocus the curriculum on the skills students need for effectively engaging in a more global technological society. Both the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2015) and the Thoughtful Learning Organization (2016) highlight learning and innovation skills for successful citizenship in this emerging society by describing 4C’s as critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating and collaborating. These organizations claim that relying on these 4C’s helps students engage in the complex social, cultural, and educational environments that are more integrated with the multiple technological resources of the 21st century.

In response to the challenges, teachers are faced with increased expectations for responding to the influence of multiple digital technologies (hereafter referred to as technologies), not only integrating them in their instruction but also examining the impact of the capabilities on the curriculum and the instructional pedagogies in a new age. As Senator Nancy Kassenbaum (http://www.azquotes.com/author/24822-Nancy_Kassebaum, n.d.) declared, it is the teachers who must bring the newer technologies “into the classroom and make it work.” Unfortunately, these technologies are ones with which teachers (1) are unfamiliar, (2) did not use in learning in their own precollege education, or (3) have received little, if any, instruction in their teacher preparation programs for integrating them in teaching and learning. In essence, these technologies require all teachers (including higher education faculty) and teacher candidates to think outside their traditional views of how the content is learned, communicated, and taught. The ISTE (2016) standards for all educators elaborate this challenge by indicating educators need to become empowered professionals and learning catalysts, professionals who as learners, citizens, collaborators, designers, facilitators, and analysts prepare students to propel their own learning.

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