One aspect that struck me about PCK and TPACK is that, in certain ways, it does help to identify the qualities that make a good educator and a good educational plan. By connecting the conceptual, pedagogical, and technological knowledge a teacher has, it provides a guide to thinking about teaching. Shulman develops this further in a discussion about what he terms “aspects of pedagogical reasoning and action” (1987). Still salient currently, Shulman breaks down pedagogical thinking into various aspects that, in sequence, help to formulate the process of teaching, from personal comprehension of the topic to selecting and delivering lessons and activities to the assessment of student work. Many of what Shulman lists can still be considered relevant in teaching although the fluency in technology must now be considered. This point is made more evident by Shulman qualifying his “Aspects of Pedagogical Reasoning” section by claiming his presumption that the teacher is starting with some form of “text” only, with no consideration for other mediums of knowledge.
My own personal experience with TPACK (although I did not think about it in such terms) came in a Science & Technology 11 course in which I did a unit on bridge building. Throughout the design of the unit I went through the various stages that Shulman discussed, from comprehension (understanding trusses and force distribution), to transformation (planning lessons and designing activities), to instruction (lessons), and evaluation (assessing their final bridge projects).
Interestingly, discussing teaching as a set of pedagogical skills helps to identify something as intangible as “good teaching”. Certainly knowledge in the pedagogical, conceptual, and technological areas is needed, but effective teaching comes from an educator’s ability to meld the knowledges together and not only develop lessons, but to deliver them well. This intangibility is acknowledged by Shulman later when he warns that an overly technical approach to teaching robs it of its human quality, stating that “we must achieve standards without standardization” (Shulman, 1987). This is an important consideration when discussing technology integration as technology (currently, anyway) is not yet able to operate with as much flexibility and adaptability as a human can. Thus, the T in TPACK becomes ever more crucial as educators and administrators continue to make decisions on which technologies to use in the classroom.
Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23