Technological pedagogical content knowledge

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A Venn diagram of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge
TPACK venn diagram

The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework describes the kinds of knowledge required by teachers for the successful integration of technology in teaching. It suggests that teachers need to know about the intersections of technology, pedagogy, and content. Specifically, how these areas of knowledge interact and influence one another in unique and specific contexts.[1] In terms of teaching with technology, it suggests that it impacts not only what we teach but how we teach. This idea was in the zeitgeist in the early 2000s, with scholars working on variations of the idea.[2][3][4][5]

The TPACK framework looks at content knowledge (CK) as the “what” that is the subject matter (arts, English, mathematics, science, etc.) teachers teach, pedagogical knowledge (PK) is the “how” that tells how the teacher will make the content more accessible (via direct instruction, inquiry, group discussion, debate, modeling, etc.). Then, technological knowledge (TK) as the “partner” answering the question of what tools (laptops, projects, smart boards, multimedia, simulations, etc.) will be selected to make the content more accessible to the students. The TPACK framework goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation and goes further by emphasizing the kinds of knowledge that lie at the intersections between three primary forms: Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). Researchers argue that pedagogical use of technology and effective technology integration using pedagogies for specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts.[6] Individual teachers, grade-level, school-specific factors, demographics, culture, and other factors ensure that every situation is unique, and no single combination of content, technology, and pedagogy will apply to every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching. The outer dotted circle of the framework is thus renamed as the “Contextual Knowledge” (i.e., the teacher’s knowledge of the context)  and define it as everything from a teacher’s awareness of available technologies, to the teacher’s knowledge of the school, district, state, or national policies they operate within.[7] This also makes the outer circle another knowledge domain that teachers must possess to integrate technology in teaching. This, in turn, implies that contextual knowledge is something that we (as teacher educators) can act on, change, and help teachers develop. Since CK is taken (for Content Knowledge) and another CK would be confusing; therefore, the outer dotted circle is named as XK for “conteXtual Knowledge” distinguishing it from CK.


The TPACK framework looks at the relationships between technology, pedagogy, and content.[8][9] 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).[10][11][9][12][13]

2-area overlap[edit]

Technology knowledge (TK) 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 way.

Content knowledge (CK) is "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.[14]

Pedagogical knowledge (PK) includes generic knowledge about how students learn, teaching approaches, methods of assessment and knowledge of different theories about learning.[14][15] This knowledge alone is necessary but insufficient for teaching purposes. In addition, a teacher requires content knowledge.

3-area overlap[edit]

Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) is knowledge about how to combine pedagogy and content effectively.[14] This is knowledge about how to make a subject understandable to learners. Archambault and Crippen 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.[10]

Technological content knowledge (TCK) refers to knowledge about how technology may be used to provide new ways of teaching content.[4] 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) refers to the affordances and constraints of technology as an enabler of different teaching approaches.[1] For example online collaboration tools may facilitate social learning for geographically separated learners.

4-area overlap[edit]

Koehler and Mishra (2006) added technological T to Shulman's pedagogical content knowledge PCK, getting technology, pedagogy, and content TPCK or TPACK.[10] 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.[16] It includes an understanding of the complexity of relationships between students, teachers, content, practices and technologies.[10]


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. Context is thus an important factor.[9]


Archambault and Crippen found that "adding the element of technology to Shulman's notion of pedagogical content knowledge befuddles an already complex model". They found that potential users of the framework found it difficult to define the boundaries of the different TPACK knowledge areas.[10]

Other authors have questioned the central construct, the TPCK, asking if it is actually a knowledge or rather an action. Philips, Koehler and Rosenberg (2016) provided an updated diagram which has the central overlap described as 'TPACK enactment'.[17] Harris and Hofer's (2011) study group used the term 'Fit' to describe the conceptualisation and operationalisation of TPACK. These views of the central component, led other authors such as Byrne (2017) to describe the TPCK of TPACK as an action rather than a knowledge. Byrne altered Harris and Hoffer's description of TPCK from "How to teach specific content based material, using technologies that best embody and support it, in ways that are appropriately matched to students' needs and preferences"[18] to "The actions we employ to teach specific content-based material, using technologies that best embody and support it, in ways that are appropriately matched to students' needs and preferences".[19]


  1. ^ a b Mishra P, Koehler MJ. (2006) Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054.
  2. ^ Angeli, C.; Valanides, N. (2005). "Preservice elementary teachers as information and communication technology designers: an instructional systems design model based on an expanded view of pedagogical content knowledge". Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 21 (4): 292–302. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2005.00135.x. ISSN 1365-2729.
  3. ^ Koehler, Matthew J.; Mishra, Punya (2005-03-01). "What Happens When Teachers Design Educational Technology? The Development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge". Journal of Educational Computing Research. 32 (2): 131–152. doi:10.2190/0EW7-01WB-BKHL-QDYV. ISSN 0735-6331.
  4. ^ a b Niess ML. (2005) Preparing teachers to teach science and mathematics with technology: Developing a technology pedagogical content knowledge. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 509–523.
  5. ^ Pierson, Melissa E. (2001-06-01). "Technology Integration Practice as a Function of Pedagogical Expertise". Journal of Research on Computing in Education. 33 (4): 413–430. doi:10.1080/08886504.2001.10782325. ISSN 0888-6504.
  6. ^ Koehler, M. J., Shin, T. S., & Mishra, P. (2012). How do we measure TPACK? Let me count the ways. In Educational technology, teacher knowledge, and classroom impact: A research handbook on frameworks and approaches (pp. 16-31). IGI Global.
  7. ^ Mishra, Punya (2019-04-03). "Considering Contextual Knowledge: The TPACK Diagram Gets an Upgrade". Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. 35 (2): 76–78. doi:10.1080/21532974.2019.1588611. ISSN 2153-2974.
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ a b c Koehler M. TPACK Explained.
  10. ^ a b c d e 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
  11. ^ Mishra P, Koehler MJ. Presentation at SITE08.
  12. ^ Mishra, P. Having fun with TPACK (songs, skits & more…)
  13. ^ Brent Zeise. TPACK Sprach Zarathustra.
  14. ^ a b c Shulman LS. (1986) Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(4).
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ Schmidt DA, Baran E, Thompson AD, Mishra P, Koehler MJ, Shin TS. (2009) Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK): The development and validation of an assessment instrument for preservice teachers. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 123–149.
  17. ^ Phillips, M., Koehler, M., & Rosenberg, J. (2016). Looking outside the circles: Considering the contexts influencing TPACK development and enactment.
  18. ^ Harris, J. B., & Hofer, M. J. (2011). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) in action: A descriptive study of secondary teachers' curriculum- based, technology-related instructional planning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(3), 211–229.
  19. ^ Byrne, C.S. (2017) eLearning integrators' narratives expressing professional identity and explaining patterns of practice with ICT. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]