During Module A discussion, the need for educational technology related professional development for teachers was highlighted as necessary in equipping teachers for technology use in their classroom. The specifications of professional development were not thoroughly described in the discussions, which welcomes Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) detailed explanation of effective professional development using a “learning-technology-by-approach design” (p.1035). This approach incorporates TPCK and focuses “on learning by doing, and less so on overt lecturing and traditional teaching. Design is learned by becoming a practitioner, albeit for the duration of the course, not merely by learning about practice (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1035). TPCK encourages professional development in an alternative process than is typical through workshops; professional development needs to be an integration of learning about the technology (content) and learning to use the technology in an authentic learning context (pedagogy). “Standard techniques of teacher professional development or faculty development, such as workshops or stand-alone technology courses, are based on the view that technology is self-contained and emphasize this divide between how and where skills are learned (e.g., workshops) and where they are to be applied (e.g., class- rooms)” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 31). Also key to TPCK, is the learning not of specific programs – software or hardware, but of the underlying principles of technology use. This is essential as “newer technologies often disrupt the status quo, requiring teachers to reconfigure not just their understanding of technology but of all three components [i.e. content, knowledge, pedagogy]” (Mishra & Koehler, 2016, p.1030). Developing a repertoire as described by Wasley, Hampel and Clark (1997) and quoted by Mishra and Koehler (2006) as ‘‘a variety of techniques, skills, and approaches in all dimensions of education that teachers have at their fingertips’’ (p. 45) helps to equip teachers to move from a professional development experience into their classrooms and choose the technology tools that will best meet the needs of their students. This supports Petrie’s (1986) extension of Schulman’s aphorism, “those who can, do; those who understand, teach” (Shulman, 1986b, p. 14) as he describes understanding as needing to be “linked to judgment and action, to the proper uses of understanding in the forging of wise pedagogical decisions” (as quoted in Schulman, 1987, p.14).
The term “transformation” that Schulman (1987) uses to refer to the experience that occurs as content knowledge is passed from teacher to student provides an effective visual image. He describes this transformation as “the capacity of a teacher to transform the content knowledge he or she possesses into forms that are pedagogically powerful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by the students (p.15). This transformation offers opportunity for individualized learning, teaching for the student rather than at the student, and aligns well with my teaching experience at present:
One example of incorporating PCK in my own teaching is in constructing individualized student learning plans for each of my students. As a distance learning teacher, I work with each student individually rather than offering a standard course or program. Conversations are held prior to the start of the learning year to design a student learning plan that consists of curriculum, resources, activities, etc. that cover the content area prescribed for the student’s grade level, but also adheres to the student’s interests, abilities, learning environment and effective ways of learning. Throughout the year, the student learning plan evolves as necessary, but again with the individual student’s needs guiding the changes. As students share their learning with me throughout the year, I provide specific feedback often suggesting areas that they can grow in their representation of ideas, as well as designing or recommending specific assignments to further their learning experiences. Although the forms of transformation may look different in a distance learning context, the process of moving from “personal comprehension to preparing for the comprehension of others” (Schulman, 1987, p.16) still occurs through preparation, representation, instructional selections, adaptations and tailoring (Schulman, 1987).