Tech as tool, medium & network

I just discovered (through the serendipitous connectibility of Google Alerts) about Teaching Thursdays a blog from the University of North Dakota. It is a collaborative venture between Anne Kelsh (Office of Instructional Development) and Bill Caraher (Department of History). Check out this recent post on Technology & Pedagogy by Bill Caraher.

He speaks about three different ways in which instructors typically speak about technology: as a tool, as a medium and as a network. Now the TPACK framework is never mentioned but it was clear to me as I read the post that Caraher sees the world in very similar kinds of ways. Consider for instance this paragraph:

In the discipline of history, there tends to be an assumption that certain valid facts exist within a fairly rigid narrative. While scholars obviously do not believe this, students tend to see history this way at the introductory level. So a wiki which encourages them to view knowledge in a more fluid way challenges basic assumptions that students tend to hold regarding the discipline. This could be good, but also could challenge their ability to engage the material and technology thoughtfully… At the end, even the most simple technology — a wiki — is not merely a tool that allows students to work together toward a pedagogical goal, but a node in a series of networks that undergird student assumptions regarding the university experience, the discipline, and the function of technology in a wider context. (And, this does not even delve into the assumptions that faculty have about technology and how they attempt to use them in the classroom — whether they are simply replacing an earlier “analog” technology or introducing a “new” learning environment with new goals.).

In some ways I think the idea of technology, pedagogy and content as a network is an excellent analogy for the complex set of relationships that underlie our conceptualization of the TPACK framework. Don’t take my word for it… read the whole thing.

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