Thursday, November 4, 2010

Post 6 - Multiliteracies and TPCK

Ok, so it's quite a mouthful. But both these concepts really are essential to understanding how to use technology effectively in a classroom. I'm going to start with Multiliteracies. In the pre-digital generations, literacy education focused upon the infamous 'Three R's' of 'Readin, 'Ritin, and 'Rithmatic. Basically the concept of Multiliteracies is based on the idea that in a post-digital, rapidly globalising world these are no longer sufficient. Three R's may have been good enough for Jimmy living in 1948, where he could expect to live and work with people from the same background and country as him. But in a post-digital world, where another Jimmy living in 2010 will regularly torrent or stream TV from the US, listen to podcasts from the UK and stream radio from Chicago, comment on friends Facebook statuses and photos posted from Europe and Asia, and 'headshotting' other players from across the globe in Modern Warfare 2, these are obviously insufficient. And that's before he leaves for the workforce!

The term multiliteracies was first coined by the New London Group, a team of ten academics who met first in 1996 to discuss the future of literacy. In their 2000 paper, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies, they argue that emphasis needs to be placed upon students becoming part of a global world. Indeed, they claim that through exposure to mass media, the internet and a multiplicity of communication channels, they are already a part of that world (Cope and Kalanstzis, 2000). Correspondingly the New London Group argues that in order to create meaning for students, there are six design elements, different and new literacies, which must be satisfied.

Linguistic Meaning - language, but with cultural context

Visual Meaning - seeing and viewing

Audio Meaning - hearing and sound

Gestural Meaning - movement

Spatial Meaning - space and place

Multimodal Meaning - Incorporating all of the above

(Breakdown taken from

It is clear just how radically the theory of Multiliteracies diverges from the traditional Three Rs. In order for education to remain relevant in contemporary society, it is vital that it focus on the teaching of not only the traditional literacies, but also those set forth above. The way I see it is that the NLG are proposing multiliteracies as a new Lingua Franca, the universal 'language' necessary for understanding and engaging with a rapidly changing and globalising world.

Through the filmmaking task, we were made to engage with the first five elements, considering the films visual style, the narrative and titles, the soundtrack and sound effects, the actors' gestures and the shot locations. Finally, in the film itself we produced an artifact which united all these as a multimodal work. For me at least, this has helped me to engage with the concept of multiliteracies, and realise that behind the metalanguage is a vital concept which needs to be understood.

Speaking of metalanguage, now I’ll look at Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, which for the sake of the word count I’ll refer to hereafter as TPCK. TPCK is the intersection of three forms of knowledge required by an effective teacher.

1. Content Knowledge, concerned with the content specific to the discipline, in my case History.

2. Pedagogical Knowledge, being knowledge of the pedagogical methods common to all disciplines.

3. Technological knowledge, pretty self-explanatory really but knowledge of technology - computer software, etc...

TPCK is where these all overlap, where all three are integrated into one tool for the teacher to use. Mishra & Koehler (2006) put this far more eloquently than I; "TPCK is the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones" (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1028-1029).

So, my definition of TPCK is that it forms the foundation for good teaching with technology, and it is the integration of pedagogical, content and technological knowledge. It takes into account student knowledge, and is a constantly reflective and adaptive system, looking always to develop, strengthen and if required adapt knowledge.

Wow, that was a big one. Next up is my last post, a lot less theoretical look at the social impact of the assessment

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