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EdTech Update




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Using the TPACK model to evaluate apps

At a regional digital education leaders' meeting last week, Nathan Thompson, a tech director from a neighboring school district, shared his views on the "TPACK" framework of technology integration.

I'd glanced at it before as a part of Ruben Puentedura's presentations on his SAMR model. But it looked pretty complex and scary and, really, who the hell needs yet another tech integration model?

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But after Nathan's explanation and some group discussion, the model started sinking through my thick skull. And I liked the framework one I got past all the TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms).

Might TPACK prove useful for evaluating software, apps, and educational websites?

I've always been distressed by the "app-happy" frenzy of many teachers and techies. Let's install every app! Let's go to every educational website! Let's assuage our FOMO and jump on board each sparkly bit of code! When I go to a conference, I want to see every "5000 Best Websites for Teachers" presentation! Woo, woo!

What would happen if before using any technology resource with kids, a simple form based on the TPACK model needed to be completed. It would simply require that these questions be answered:

  1. What is the content knowledge, skill set, or standard this resource will help you meet?
  2. What best-practice pedagogy does this resource use to help teach the content?
  3. What are the technical requirements of the resource?

Here is my fear. How many teachers may not be able to articulate either a standard or a pedagogy? This is why technology departments need their counterparts in the teaching and learning departments just as much as they need us.  I think Covey would have called us "co-dependent."

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Reader Comments (5)

Quality teaching needs quality resources. Teacher Librarians use many criteria to select quality resources to suit their learning community.
Unfortunately, most times with teaches choosing their own educational apps, most teachers do not apply (m)any criteria to their selection, although "FREE" does appear to be one criteria often used!
Unlike physical resources (educational or not) apps cannot be fully examined prior to purchase.
I understand that in some cases lite versions are available & there are places to go to read reviews, for some apps. There are many more discussion points here but I will leave those until another time.

I have introduced a "sandpit" iPad for our staff to explore various apps before purchasing through VPP.
Teachers can explore the various apps that may be suitable for their learning task (selected first-start with the pedagogy)
and choose the app that is most valuable and suitable for purchase for their student's learning.

February 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey Nay

Hi Punya,

I have used TPACK to evaluate both apps and e-learning projects. The model,works well fior generating questions on the veracity of an app or project, but you need more to find solutions through it. That seems to be true of all of the technology integration models I've used -- in some ways, that makes them problematic for lesson design, but very useful for big picture considerations or operations. The context is implied, which makes the models more powerful tools.

February 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPilar

Hi Audrey,

I like the "sandpit" (or as we Yanks say "sandbox") idea. Like any other education resource, teachers need to take the time to examine and evaluate applications and websites. Sounds like you've found a role as a librarian to help them do just that. I've always been torn between evaluating and teaching others how to evaluate - I expect it will always be a combination.

Thanks for the comment!


Hola Pilar,

I agree - models are mostly useful for getting a handle of planning and philosophic considerations of tech integration. I did think it this case, the TPACK model has some very day-to-day application. I always hope we bring our "big picture" models into our everyday work.

Thank you for the comment,


February 23, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

You'll have to pardon my ignorance, but it sounds like you are asking people who want to use technology to actually think, reason, discuss, and THEN decide to use?

What magic is this?!

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

I know. It's a radical concept.


March 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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