Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge needed by a teacher for effective pedagogical practice in a technology enhanced learning environment. The idea of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) was first described by Lee Shulman (Shulman 1986) and TPACK builds on those core ideas through the inclusion of technology. Punya Mishra, professor, and Matthew J. Koehler, professor, both at Michigan State University, have done extensive work in constructing the TPACK framework. TPACK.org is an active repository of news and information about TPACK.
The TPACK Framework
The TPACK framework argues that effective technology integration for teaching specific content or subject matter requires understanding and negotiating the relationships between these three components: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content. A teacher capable of negotiating these relationships represents a form of expertise different from, and (perhaps) broader than, the knowledge of a disciplinary expert (say a scientist or a musician or sociologist), a technology expert (a computer engineer) or an expert at teaching/pedagogy (an experienced educator).
The TPACK framework highlights complex relationships that exist between content, pedagogy and technology knowledge areas and may be a useful organizational structure for defining what it is that teachers need to know to integrate technology effectively (Archambault & Crippen, 2009).
TPACK Knowledge Areas
TPACK consists of 7 different knowledge areas: (i) Content Knowledge (CK), (ii) Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), (iii) Technology Knowledge (TK), (iv) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), (v) Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), (vi) Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and (vii) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). All of these knowledge areas are considered within a particular contextual framework.
Technology Knowledge (TK)
Technology knowledge refers to an understanding of the way that technologies are used in a specific content domain. For example, for physics teachers, it is an understanding of the range of technologies that physicists use in science and industry. Within the context of technology integration in schools, it appears to most often refer to digital technologies such as laptops, the Internet, and software applications. TK does however go beyond digital literacy to having knowledge of how to change the purpose of existing technologies (e.g. wikis) so that they can be used in a technology enhanced
Content Knowledge (CK)
Content knowledge may be defined as “a thorough grounding in college-level subject matter” or “command of the subject” (American Council on Education, 1999). It may also include knowledge of concepts, theories, conceptual frameworks as well as knowledge about accepted ways of developing knowledge (Shulman, 1986).
Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)
Pedagogical knowledge includes generic knowledge about how students learn, teaching approaches, methods of assessment and knowledge of different theories about learning (Harris et al., 2009; Shulman, 1986). This knowledge alone is necessary but insufficient for teaching purposes. In addition a teacher requires content knowledge.
Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)
Pedagogical content knowledge is knowledge about how to combine pedagogy and content effectively (Shulman, 1986). This is knowledge about how to make a subject understandable to learners. Archambault and Crippen (2009) report that PCK includes knowledge of what makes a subject difficult or easy to learn, as well as knowledge of common misconceptions and likely preconceptions students bring with them to the classroom.
Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)
Technological content knowledge refers to knowledge about how technology may be used to provide new ways of teaching content(Niess, 2005). For example, digital animation makes it possible for students to conceptualize how electrons are shared between atoms when chemical compounds are formed.
Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)
Technological pedagogical knowledge refers to the affordances and constraints of technology as an enabler of different teaching approaches (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). For example online collaboration tools may facilitate social learning for geographically separated learners.
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK)
Technological pedagogical content knowledge refers to the knowledge and understanding of the interplay between CK, PK and TK when using technology for teaching and learning (Schmidt, Thompson, Koehler, Shin, & Mishra, 2009). It includes an understanding of the complexity of relationships between students, teachers, content, practices and technologies (Archambault & Crippen, 2009).
Teachers are limited by what they are able to do within their own environment. For example, teachers with limited access to technology are unable to use Web 2.0 tools available to students in schools that have ubiquitous access to the Internet. Time, training, and the nature of assessment in schools also impacts on how technology may be used in classrooms.
Use of the TPACK framework
The TPACK framework is becoming increasingly popular as an organizing frame for the development of educational technology professional development programs for teachers. The use of TPACK in this way has created a need to be able to measure teacher TPACK. Research in this field is currently ongoing as it is proving to be difficult to define the boundaries of the different TPACK knowledge areas (Archambault & Crippen, 2009).
TPACK framework does not necessarily mean that new technologies must be introduced, but instead relating creative ideas to using the technologies already available to educators. Each component: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content must all be within a given contextual framework.
Archambault, L., & Crippen, K. (2009). Examining TPACK among K-12 online distance educators in the United States. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 71-88.
Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In J. A. Colbert, K. E. Boyd, K. A. Clark, S. Guan, J. B. Harris, M. A. Kelly & A. D. Thompson (Eds.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Educators (pp. 1–29). New York: Routledge.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.
Niess, M. L. (2005). Preparing teachers to teach science and mathematics with technology: Developing a technology pedagogical content knowledge Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 509-523.
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(4).
Wetzel, K. & Marshall, S. (2011-12). TPACK goes to sixth grade – Lessons from a middle school teacher in a high technology access classroom. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education