Embracing and Fighting Through the Resistance

I really like where Ryan Bretag is going with his description of student (and teacher) resistance to learner-centric, technology-rich learning environments.

But, I continue to see frustration from teachers that hear about this magical world and then face something different in the classroom. They face resistance.

Because of this, we must help them with this reality.
  1. We need to help them understand why students are resisting.
  2. We need to remind them that community is at the core of a classroom not myths about what this generation wants.
  3. We need to acknowledge that this isn’t easy and it is even more challenging when you try to change the game in the midst of the class.
  4. We need to help teachers and students fight through it for a better environment that they might not fully understand or appreciate in the moment as they build and establish community.
In seeing this list, I'm reminded of Mishra and Koehler's (2008) TPACK framework (see also Koehler & Mishra, 2005 and Mishra & Koehler, 2006). The elements of the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework include knowledge of content, pedagogy, and technology, as well as comprehending “the complex interaction between these knowledge components” (p. 2). In other words, learning to teach with technology is a skill in and of itself, requiring expertise above and beyond the traditional training in pedagogy and content that teachers receive in pre-service programs.

Mishra and Koehler also emphasize that technical literacy for teachers means more than mere understanding:
Beyond traditional notions of technical literacy, teachers should also understand information technology broadly enough to apply it productively at work and in their everyday lives, recognize when information technology can assist or impede the achievement of a goal, and to continually adapt to changes in information technology. This, obviously, requires a deeper, more essential understanding and mastery of information technology for information processing, communication, and problem solving than does the traditional definition of computer literacy. In this view, technology knowledge evolves over a lifetime, consisting of an open-ended interaction with technology. (p. 4)
While the TPACK framework itself is still under scrutiny, it feels right to me. My experiences in education have introduced me to excellent teachers that struggle to implement technology into their teaching. I've also known techno-geeks who can blow your socks off with their understanding of technology, but have no concept of effective classroom management or even basic instructional design. Ultimately, I think that many teachers still struggle to blend technology with effective curriculum delivery because - as Ryan points out - this is difficult business requiring complex skills not fully understood.

Might TPACK, nevertheless - or something like it - also apply to student learning? Is there a technological/educational understanding that must be acquired before technology can be effectively used in the learning process? Do some students come about this proficiency far easier than others? What elements must be present before technology can be reliably used for learning? Finally, is it really community that lies at the core of a classroom?

In the immortal words of every doctoral candidate, "more research is needed to answer each of these important questions."



Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2005). Teachers learning technology by design. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 21(3). 94-102.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J, (2008) Introducing Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York City, March 24–28, 2008.

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