TPACK’s Arc of Technology Transparency and Teachers’ Ethical Obligations: Understanding The Digital as the New Materia Medica of Pedagogy
Abstract: In his landmark essay on Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Shulman (1986) described technology as the “materia medica of pedagogy, the pharmacopeia from which a teacher draws” (p. 10). This crucial passage about curricular knowledge and instructional materials was overlooked by Mishra and Koehler (2006) in their popular formulation of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), yet it hints at important technoethical obligations for today’s teachers. For if technological solutions are indeed pharmacological in their pedagogical effects, then teachers must carefully weigh every new technology’s benefits against its possible risks and adverse effects on their students’ knowledge ecology and well-being, and by extension, the possible impacts on future cognitive, social, political and cultural environments. To remedy to this oversight, I examine TPACK’s “arc of technology transparency” as a critical site of ethical intervention. The arc of technology transparency, first identified by Cox (2008), marks the transition from T-PCK (when a technology is “present-at-hand” or obstinately apparent) to PCK (when a technology has become “ready-to-hand” or transparently integrated into ones teaching and learning practice). Standing at this border crossing—looking both forwards and back—teachers are well positioned to critically assess and ethically weigh the benefits and risks of adding a new digital technology to the already complex media ecologies of their students’ lives.
Presider: Denise Lindstrom, West Virginia University