GeoThentic: Designing and Assessing With Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge

Aug. 28, 2009

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(3). (2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

GeoThentic, an online teaching and learning environment, focuses on engaging teachers and learners in solving real-world geography problems through use of geospatial technologies. The design of GeoThentic is grounded on the technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) framework as a metacognitive tool.

This article describes the evolution of the GeoThentic learning environment, how GeoThentic was designed using TPACK, and how teacher TPACK assessment models have been designed and integrated within the environment to assist social studies teaching and learning.

Focus on Geography

The authors’ specific interest within social studies education is geography. In keeping with the current trajectories of TPACK research, Doering and Veletsianos (2007b) identified geography technological pedagogical content knowledge as a necessary component for teacher education programs to focus on in order to facilitate increased integration of geospatial technologies (e.g., Google Earth) into K-12 classrooms.
This article offers an example of how the TPACK framework is currently being used within the same online geography environment for self-assessment purposes.

Design-Based Research

The authors utilize a methodology of design-based research (DBR) to examine how the theoretical foundation of the Geothentic project has been enhanced through continuous iterations of design, implementation, and research. DBR focuses on complex problems, such as teaching and learning with technology. Such problems are best examined through an investigation of and immersion in the natural context and stimuli.


GeoThentic, the current generation of the learning environment, assists teachers and students in teaching and learning geography using geospatial technologies (e.g., Google Earth) through scaffolding, curricula, and TPACK assessment models.

The GeoThentic online environment has two interfaces:
(a) a student interface that students use when solving problems with geospatial technologies, and
(b) a teacher interface that teachers use to prepare for teaching a module and to assess their TPACK.

The introduction of the TPACK framework to teachers explicitly and its prominence in the menu items within GeoThentic are what makes GeoThentic unique.


The authors have found that (a) designers need to capitalize on the power of technological advancements to design and evaluate with TPACK, and
(b) learning environments must challenge teachers’ metacognitive awareness of TPACK, while research must begin immediately to validate TPACK assessment processes.

Concluding Thoughts

Although our TPACK assessment models are being currently used as metacognitive tools, the authors hope to contribute to the conversation about how to best assess TPACK knowledge, which may be done by research and validation studies or by design explorations.

Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2007b). Multi-scaffolding learning environment: An analysis of scaffolding and its impact on cognitive load and problem-solving ability. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37(2), 107-129.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2010