Thursday, March 6, 2008

SITE 2008: "Thinking Creatively: Teachers as Designers of Technology, Pedagogy, and Content (TPACK)"

Notes from Presentation by
Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler
Michigan State University

Their wiki is available at
They ask how the context of classrooms and our world

Teaching with technology is complex.
Learning: The act of learning to think in a disciplined manner.
"The book is a machine to think with." - Unknown

Standard approaches to teaching with technology are not working so there is a need for creative solutions. In a world characterized by change, it makes sense to provide lots of ideas o some creative examples arise. An example of a creative solution is using micro-loans to enhance third world economies. Creativity must be lead to something that is novel, effective (valuable, useful, logical), and whole (elegant, complex, understandable, well-crafted). It is a variation on a theme - you "tweak" an idea to improve it.

NEW = Novel, Effective, Whole

We live in a "new media ecology" where creativity is the only solution and the only way to be creative is be novel by "tweaking" old ideas.

TPACK = Total PACKage
The total package is considering content, pedagogy, and technology within a context.

TPACK works as well with high-end technologies as with older technologies (e.g., white boards). The key is that it is a new way to use or do something than was done in the past.

"The walls between art and engineering exist nly in our minds." -Theo Jansen
Mishra and Koehler states that the walls between "pedagogy, content, and technology exist only in our minds."

My question: How do we effectively share the knobs that we find?

The following notes are from the discussion with the authors following the keynote presentation.

Some activities they use to teach creativity:
Write a short story with a beginning, middle, and end in 55 words or less.
On the first day of class, give every students a 1, 2, 3, or 4. Students then move to a corner of the room with those with like numbers and are given an envelope with a creative task and tools. Students have one hour to complete their task (e.g., create an invitation; in the envelope is playdough or glue and paper or glue and scissors). At the end of class, ask students why they felt limited to use the tools in their possession or how they creatively worked around the limit of their tools.

They argue that is important to find the right blend of of pedagogy, technology, and content for the teacher. It doesn't have to be "glitzy." The most important thing in teacher education is changing the teacher's mindset to allow them to think creatively.

Constraints actually motivate creativity. Because teachers may not have access to technologies or environments conducive to TPACK, they need to feel empowered to think within their context to find creative solutions to do what they want.

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