What Is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge?

From Section:
Instruction in Teacher Training
Mar. 28, 2009

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), p. 60-70. (2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article describes a framework for teacher knowledge for technology integration called technological pedagogical content knowledge (originally TPCK, now known as TPACK).

The article begins with a brief introduction to the complex, ill-structured nature of teaching.
The nature of technologies (both analog and digital) is considered, as well as how the inclusion of technology in pedagogy further complicates teaching. The TPACK framework for teacher knowledge is described in detail, as a complex interaction among three bodies of knowledge: Content, pedagogy, and technology.

The TPACK Framework

This framework builds on Shulman’s (1987, 1986) descriptions of PCK to describe how teachers’ understanding of educational technologies and PCK interact with one another to produce effective teaching with technology.

In this model, there are three main components of teachers’ knowledge: content, pedagogy, and technology. Equally important to the model are the interactions between and among these bodies of knowledge, represented as PCK, TCK (technological content knowledge), TPK (technological pedagogical knowledge), and TPACK.

Content Knowledge (CK) is teachers’ knowledge about the subject matter to be learned or taught. Knowledge of content is of critical importance for teachers. This knowledge would include knowledge of concepts, theories, ideas, organizational frameworks, knowledge of evidence and proof, as well as established practices and approaches toward developing such knowledge.

Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) is teachers’ deep knowledge about the processes and practices or methods of teaching and learning. This generic form of knowledge applies to understanding how students learn, general classroom management skills, lesson planning, and student assessment. It includes knowledge about techniques or methods used in the classroom; the nature of the target audience; and strategies for evaluating student understanding.

Technology Knowledge
The definition of TK used in the TPACK framework is close to that of Fluency of Information Technology (FITness). FITness, therefore, requires a deeper, more essential understanding and mastery of information technology for information processing, communication, and problem solving than does the traditional definition of computer literacy. Acquiring TK in this manner enables a person to accomplish a variety of different tasks using information technology and to develop different ways of accomplishing a given task.

Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge

TPACK is an understanding that emerges from interactions among content, pedagogy, and technology knowledge. TPACK is the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones.

By simultaneously integrating knowledge of technology, pedagogy and content, expert teachers bring TPACK into play any time they teach.

Implications of the TPACK Framework

The current work on the TPACK framework seeks to extend this tradition of research and scholarship by bringing technology integration into the kinds of knowledge that teachers need to consider when teaching. The TPACK framework seeks to assist the development of better techniques for discovering and describing how technology-related professional knowledge is implemented and instantiated in practice.

Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.
Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.

Updated: Nov. 27, 2019
Educational technology | Models | Pedagogical content knowledge | Teaching methods | Technology integration