The Technically Advanced Tortoise Wins the Race: a Critique of Mishra and Koehler’s Proposal for the Incorporation of Technology into Pedagogy

The Technically Advanced Tortoise Wins the Race: a Critique of Mishra and Koehler’s Proposal for the Incorporation of Technology into Pedagogy


The first proposal that is put forward by Mishra and Koehler’s in their article Too Cool for School? No way! is that technology has the ability to revolutionise the way we think about teaching and learning. While the possibility of a revolution in Pedagogy brought about by the possibilities that have been made available due to modern technology is real, I suggest that Bennett and Maton’s critical ‘tortoise wins the race’ methodology for the tentative incorporation of technology into our pedagogy must be adhered to in order to effectively manage this transition in order to gain the greatest benefit for teachers and learners. Opportunity in itself is not a valid reason for change. Say I develop a new super drug that preliminary testing suggests doubles a student’s capacity to learn. Would it not be reckless to begin to pass out this super drug because it provides an opportunity to increase a student’s ability to learn, without further testing? The answer is clearly no. How am I to know the possible problems that such a drug would bring with it. Maybe it would cause depression, or dramatically increase aggression. Then we would have an ‘I am Legend’ scenario on our hands! Though these technologies are not the same, I hope you see from this example why incorporation of technology into our pedagogy should be undertaken tentatively until we have a better understanding of its effects on students and teachers.

The bulk of the article is devoted to an overview of the TPACK framework for the incorporation of technology into the classroom, the proposal that technology should be repurposed for use in the classroom using this framework, and three specific examples of creative ways in which this has been accomplished.


TPACK is an acronym for Mishra and Koehler’s three sources of correct technological integration into the classroom. These sources are technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge. They argue that all of these sources must be utilized in order to effectively utilise technology in the classroom.  This framework draws heavily from the work of Lee Shulman, an expert in the field who proposed that teachers have a special kind of knowledge that lies at the intersection of pedagogy and content. Mishra and Koehler emphasise that it is the application of this special knowledge to the integration of technology, which leads to the effective use of modern technology in the classroom. This position seems reasonable and well argued and if it is combined with Bennett and Maton’s methodology it provides a comprehensive understanding of when and how technology is to be integrated into the classroom.

Mishra and Koehler recognize that most technologies that are available were not designed for educational purposes. They correctly suggest that educators should repurpose these technologies, scaffolding them with specific instructions and strategies in order to use them effectively to communicate content and develop student creativity. They use the example of Noah Ullman’s use of Twitter’s micro blogging potential to facilitate class discussion. Ullman suggests that this strategy is ineffective without proper pedagogical guidelines. For example Ullman suggests that the effective use of this technology requires a space in the classroom where these comments can be discussed.

The most creative of the examples that are given in the article, which was suggested by Erik Byker, is the use of free DJ software, such as trakAxPc, to mix music, in order to provide a creative interactive medium by which the students come to understand ratio’s and percentages  in regards to tempo in music. Not only does this engage the student, but it helps the student to see ways in which mathematical concepts are used in everyday life.



Figure 1: trakAxPc DJ software


Though by itself Mishra and Koehler’s TPACK framework for technological integration is incomplete, combination with Bennett and Maton’s tentative methodology for technological integration provides a comprehensive framework for the integration of technology into the classroom that provides the greatest benefit to teachers and students. While Bennett and Maton provide us with the ‘when’ of technological integration, Mishra and Koehler provide us with the ‘how’. Plus they list some cool ways that technology can be effectively used in the classroom using their framework.


Mishra, P. and Koehler, M. Too Cool for School? No Way! Learning & Leading with Technology, May 2009, Vol. 36 Issue 7, p14-18.


Bennett, S. and Maton, K. Beyond the ‘digital natives’ debate: Towards a more nuanced understanding of students’ technology experiences. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Oct 2010, Vol. 26 Issue 5, p321-331.


TrakAxPc  [image]. (2011). Retrieved from