A few days ago we announced a new hybrid Ph.D. program in educational technology. It will be offered substantially online with some critical on-campus face to face factored in. You can find more details of the program by going to the website, or by reading the news release or a news story. But here I want to speak to something else—I want to speak about my personal excitement at being a part of this new program and why I think it is important. These ideas are difficult to fit into a press release or program website, but I think they are extremely important, maybe more so, than what gets into official documents. So here goes…
Over the past few years the work that Matt Koehler and I done together (and I am speaking of the TPACK framework) has received some positive attention. Our article(s) has been read and cited, graduate students have completed dissertations using it as an analytic lens, and there have been lots of research articles and conference presentations around this topic. This is all very good and I would be lying if I didn’t enjoy this (and the added benefit of being invited to offer keynote presentations at conferences).
That said, the most gratifying part for me, personally, has been learning about how the framework has been taken to heart by practitioners. An email from a teacher, or a blog entry by a tech coordinator, someone catching me in the hallway at at conference, all in one way or the other, indicating that the framework has helped them conceptualize what they do in a new way. How cool is that.
One frustration however has been that I don’t get a chance to work as closely with teachers as I would like, for extended periods of time. This new program explicitly aimed at practitioners hopefully will change that. Moreover it seeks to bring together people who care strongly about education and learning and those who understand that newer technologies are fundamentally changing everything. We are looking for people who see the problems we face today and are interested in finding research driven solutions.
We are looking for the adventurous ones, the risk-takers, the ones who want to make a difference. And we want to bring them together, using the powerful tools we now have, to create, explore and share, to engage in dialogue and dissent, to critique research and to conduct research, to experiment with new technologies, new pedagogies and new content.
This is doubly important today, because, we know that we are living in exponential times. Clearly the status quo will not do. Most of what we know (and teach) is becoming dangerously irrelevant. We need new ideas, new research, new tools, new institutional structures, and new pedagogies that fit this new “conceptual world” we are living in.
A year or so ago I created a mashup of a commercial that was sort of going viral (videos at end of this posting). I had a lot of fun doing that. What was disturbing, to me, about the original commercial was that technology was seen as just another way of transmitting information from professor to student. At the end of the day it was just a lecture, albeit delivered on an iPod. One of the points I was trying to make through this mashup was that new technologies provide us with new ways of engaging with content, new ways of teaching and new ways of learning. I have always believed that creativity and design are essential qualities for a teacher. This is even more important when we think about these new digital tools and what they can do for us as educators and more importantly for learners. I think with this new hybrid Ph.D. program we have an opportunity to explore some of these ideas. I am excited by that possibility and am really looking forward to working with a cohort of similarly inspired educators.
I must add that I have a selfish motivation for this. I am excited by this not because I know the answers and want to transfer them to the people in the cohort. Not at all. I am excited because I see this as a way for me to learn and grow. And to do this with some cool, inspired educators, what could be better than that.
This is going to be fun.
Here is the original commercial that I had mentioned above:
And my response:
I had posted this as a guest blog post on Nashworld. You can see my original post here.