Classroom of the Future Still Buffering
Twenty years ago, the principal of my school complained that our ICT budget got bigger every year. I remember suggesting that before we spent, we forecast the payback we expected. He laughed; I laughed … we both laughed skeptically.
Like most places, our ICT ‘solutions’ are workable. They have their moments, but they’ve never delivered the Star-Trek-like Classroom of Tomorrow that we believed was coming. Now most schools’ ICT solutions are just a background admin hum … sometimes groaning, often requiring resuscitation. ICT has impacted only the distant fringes of the school’s pedagogical context. Looking at the SAMR chart suggests we’re still on the beach.
Students leave their world at 8.20am and go back to it at 3.05pm. That world has changed a lot, and teachers are not part of it. An early attempt to adopt the Moodle LMS by a great ICT team amounted to very little. Three ICT directors and three ‘technology integrators’ later there’s still been no fundamental change in our pedagogy.
TPACK: A Way Out of the Pedagogical Stalemate?
The basis of this was Lee S. Shulman's 1986 piece “Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching.” Twenty years later Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler's built on it, producing “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge.”
TPACK is the set of knowledge that teachers need to teach their students a subject, teach effectively, and use technology.
I'm hopeful about a couple of things.
The first is TPACK's recognition that context has a huge effect on outcome. A changing context means that we must redefine what the nexus of technology-pedagogy-content will look like in a period-by-period way.
The second is its promotion of ‘Learning by design’ both as a pedagogical mindset and an approach to teacher professional development. This means thinking through the whole process in an end-to-end way and avoiding the piecemeal implementation of 'next-best' solutions which disenchant and demoralize.
The 'student wellbeing' watchword of the moment is Resilience. Students need it to look at their mistakes with realism and maturity. Sometimes teachers also need resilience to look 'back to the future.'