Teachers reign in the classroom. They oversee a unique territory, where students, by virtue of their implicit choice to attend, are subject to the teacher’s rule of law. You show up on time, you sit down, you appear presentable. Pupil participation is also within the teacher’s purview, offering incentives and disincentives that guide behavior, which in most cases look something like a good grade or a bad one.
But this territory is fluid, and its participants, fickle. The class extends well beyond the physical confines of the classroom. After all, that’s why you assign homework. But often, it takes more than the casual prod of a looming grade to inspire students to meaningfully engage with the work. Believe me, a bad grade is hardly a sustainable threat for a college student. Coercion, it turns out, is weak – sincere engagement, on the other hand, affords students a true learning experience.
That’s why we believe teaching is an art that brings together three distinct knowledge centers: the subject matter, pedagogical technique, and technology (communicative tools). The TPACK model (Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge), as explained wonderfully by Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, is a clear framework illustrating the supporting role that technology plays in the modern classroom.
The right technology complements what a teacher has already mastered — lesson content and a unique pedagogical style — by serving as a delivery tool, a logistics system, a channel for information and participation. We hope that technology companies take up the responsibility of designing systems that work effortlessly with the teacher’s territory so their content can reign.