Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Wikis - #3a

Dr. Ferdig referred to technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) in a couple of comments, so I searched for his recently available online article in the British Journal of Educational Technology for a possible connection to wikis. Though no small feat to find this article (and I’m not sure that I cited correctly?), I discovered it to have some meaning for me in my growing expertise on wikis. The good sensical premise of the writing is that an effective technological “innovation” in education takes into account “good pedagogy…good people…[and] good performance” (Ferdig, 2006). Embedded in this account is the idea that educational technology needs to be content-driven and that technology choice may differ from one discipline to another.

Ferdig’s (2006) review of literature highlights the pedagogical framework of social constructivism:

  • real-world applications for motivational engagement while maintaining a viable learning challenge (career education in post-secondary institutions revolves around the “hands-on and reality” core since the design of this curriculum is to prepare students for the world of work – the challenge is to keep the difficulty at an appropriate level);

  • a sense of “ownership” and power over learning (wikis fit well with this concept since the issue of control is a central one);

  • social collaborative opportunities (wikis invite and expect contributions from the community which, in turn, allow for interactive scaffolding);

  • creation of documents which demonstrate a new construction of knowledge (the wiki definitely imbues a process of building new understanding with its participatory and often, problem-solving model);

  • focal point on “publication, reflection, and feedback” (wikis capitalize on this feature with their online distribution via the world wide web and the opportunity for others to comment on their contributions. In addition the “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” power of the wikis Internet capability allow learners to take time for reflection before posting).

The importance of people in the assessment of educational technologies cannot be undermined. Ferdig (2006) indicates the importance of many levels of dialogue (I like this concept as it truly underlies the real value of wikis if teachers permit student control); the significance of authentic, non-judgmental conversations (even with the wiki, this can be superficial, but it is critical that all share the same conditions in the community); the supple nature of individuals in dealing with situations (the wiki is indeed an organic tool, allowing for various levels of control and publication exposure, as well as focusing on the whole as well as the parts); and the equality and holistic involvement of participation (i.e., setting the stage for maximum contributions on a equivalent stage, which can be representative of a wiki project). The importance of the teacher role as facilitator of the wiki cannot be undermined nor underestimated.

Lastly, the issue of performance is addressed. After all, what good is the technological tool if it doesn’t impact performance in some manner? Ferdig (2006) delineates three important criteria:

  • using the technology in a relevant and applicable way (wikis are not appropriate for every academic lesson – it is critical to use technology as pertinent to the essential goal of the lesson);

  • relating technology specifically to learner goals and benchmarks, as indicated by the content (wikis can to be structured to relate directly to standards, as appropriate – however, this learning tool may be difficult to measure actual gains in knowledge);

  • recognizing and measuring the increase in social and emotional, as well as cognitive learning (this is a tough area – wiki or not – but interestingly, the reference to “evidence that humans enter into social relationships with technology” paves the way for wiki use in future research).

One final observation (I know this post is getting long) – Ferdig (2006) cites Shulman (1986), “preparing teachers, some focused on pedagogical knowledge (teaching how to teach) while others focused their attention on content knowledge (teaching about the subject matter…He argued that teacher educators should focus on both…” I strongly agree and find additional dimensions, then, in working with teachers of post secondary adult vocational students, as most of the teachers come directly from the career field, focused on their specialization content, and are not trained educators. That realization means additional focus on training teachers of the use of wikis in my school.

Wikis appear to fit well within the lens of social constructivist theoretical foundations and the additional perspectives of TPCK. The tri-modal structure of pedagogy, people and performance gives credence to the potential of wikis in a learning environment, assuming they are carefully crafted to solicit the positive aspects of all three influences.

Ferdig, R.E. (in press). Assessing technologies for teaching and learning: Understanding the importance of technological pedagogical content knowledge. British Journal of Educational Technology. Retrieved March 19, 2006 from


At 7:31 AM, Blogger Joshua O said...

Good idea to apply the pedagogical framework to the wiki, Marie. Your examples of theory and application shows that wiki's have solid grounding in the social constructivist theory. Your post was a good learning experience for me as you've tied Dr. Ferdig's article to your project.

Your curriculum will definitely be "hands-on", finding the proper difficulty level may be difficult at first - trial and error and then success. You mentioned that it may influence the training needed for vocational teachers and the use of wikis in school. Will it influence your ideas for content for the learner?


At 5:47 PM, Blogger Marie C said...

Hi Josh,
I'm definitely leaning towards starting with teacher interest, more than content. At this point (based on the "feelers" I've put out), I think I'll probably have more positive feedback with the Health Science classes (i.e., LPN or Surg Tech) - those teachers appear to be more ready to "explore" with me...My thought is to get some teachers to start it and then others (potentially more resistant) can get "hooked" easier!

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Rick Ferdig said...

Great job in both finding the article and commenting on it, Marie. You have summarized my thoughts well...and although this was a long post--in perhaps a more concise way than I could have! :)

I pointed you towards TPCK, because it's an important concept in today's day and age of scientifically-based research. It's the concept that there are certain ways to use technologies for certain pedagogical purposes in certain content areas. So, it's less about wikis fitting into a TPCK framework, and more about understanding what that framework is. So, for instance, where and when and how do wikis work is more important than saying something global about Wikis. You can start with the research on wikis...and also look at research on technologies that do the same kinds of things as wikis. However, at the end of the day, I'm wondering if it's not more important to say when and where and how...and then make your claims (more of a comment for ed tech research writ large). Thoughts?


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