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TPACK/Too Cool for School

Those that can’t do, teach (and those that can’t teach, teach gym).

Yeah, great joke. One teacher in the 80s heard it a few times too many and wrote an entire article to explain what it is that sets maths teachers apart from mathematicians, economics teachers apart from economists, or English teachers apart from poets. Lee Shulman’s idea was Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). The gist of it is that content knowledge and knowledge about teaching produce a whole new skill after a lot of deep reflection. 

Now, with new technology being used in classrooms, the acronym has been expanded to “TPACK.” In Too Cool for School? No Way!” Mishra and Koehler place equal weight upon technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. Part of their description of TPACK is that the three components are not isolated, but must be adjusted to accomodate one another. It annoyed me when they suggested that teaching practices and the actual content taught in schools should be adjusted to accomodate technology. However, using the SAMR model, this does make sense. To achieve “modification” or “redefinition” of learning, both content and pedagogy need to be adjusted, and not merely the technology used.

Three ICTs were discussed in detail in Too Cool for School? No Way!” The idea of using musical DJ software to teach mathematics made me realise that ICT can cater for more learning styles (such as musical). It would have taken some imagination to adapt “trakAxPC” to a mathematics lesson, which shows that creativity might pay huge dividends when teaching with ICT. The specialised search engines discussed sounded promising, until I discovered that they are now obsolete. I’m also curious about how effective “microblogging” might be. It could be a great tool for students to concisely summarise their learning, or to give every student a chance to have their say instead of running out of time and picking only a few to share their ideas. Again, creative teachers could come up with some really effective uses.


Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14. Retrieved from JSTOR database.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning & Leading with Technology 36(7), 14-18.


2 responses to “TPACK/Too Cool for School

  1. I really liked how you opened up this blog with the old classic joke…..and then destroyed it. It is true that a new skill set is needed in order to teach a subject matter, as Shulman pointed out in his article. Knowing the subject to a point where you are top of class at it is one thing, but if someone cannot deliver that information to people then the knowledge can be consider a loss.

  2. Pingback: ICT Policy | nd20120166

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