As technology increasingly plays a greater role in education, it is important to consider the kinds of knowledge teachers need to possess to effectively integrate technology in their teaching. The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework builds on Shulman’s (1986, 1987) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) framework–the idea that teacher knowledge is more than mere knowledge of content and of general pedagogical principles. Shulman suggested that teachers possess a special form of knowledge that has to do with processes and techniques for transforming content in ways that are pedagogically viable. The TPACK framework extended PCK to include technological knowledge as being an important component of the kinds of knowledge teachers need to possess, and similar to PCK, TPACK is conceived as being more than the individual pieces of knowledge.
The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Framework
The TPACK framework was first introduced in Mishra and Koelher (2006). The most recent version of the TPACK framework speaks to four key aspects of knowledge: Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), Technological Knowledge (TK) and Contextual Knowledge (XK). Content Knowledge (CK) refers to knowledge about the subject matter teachers are teaching, including understanding the content specific to the curriculum that is being taught as well as a deeper understanding of disciplinary concepts and practices. Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) concerns teachers’ knowledge about methods and practices of teaching and learning, including the overall goals of education, how students learn, assessment, and classroom management. Technological Knowledge (TK) describes a type of fluid understanding of technologies and the ability to use them productively for various tasks. TK is fluid and evolving, as technologies continually develop over time. Finally, Contextual Knowledge (XK) is the knowledge teachers possess of the broader context within which their teaching functions. These may include knowledge of state standards and policies as well as the broader culture of the school or the district.
The canonical TPACK diagram represents CK, PK and TK as three overlapping circles at the center of a larger circle (usually a dotted line) which represents XK. Central to the TPACK framework is the the interaction between these knowledge areas and the interaction among them. Thus, TPACK includes understanding how to represent concepts through technology, how to use technology to teach content, common misconceptions in curricular areas and how technology can address them, how technologies affect students’ epistemologies, and how all of these factors play out in specific contexts. Teachers with effective TPACK can flexibly integrate content, pedagogy, and technology to address specific contextualized needs and challenges. They continually adapt to new technological tools, new concepts in content, and innovative pedagogical approaches utilizing the affordances and constraints to improve teaching and learning in their particular educational context.
The most recognized version of the TPACK framework was conceptualized and first reported in 2005 by Matthew Koehler and Punya Mishra, who were both faculty at Michigan State University. This was not a completely original construct as scholars since 1998 had discussed how to better understand and explain how educators should conceptualize the role of technology in education. It was becoming clear that an emphasis on technology (and the educational possibilities it engendered) was not adequate to explain what was happening in actual educational settings; adding technology into an educational process did not lead to change. In particular, it was recognized that teachers needed to understand the relationships between users, technologies, practices and tools, including how technologies can support teaching and learning (Koehler & Mishra, 2005).
Koehler and Mishra built the TPACK framework by extending Shulman’s (1986, 1987) Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework to include technology (Koehler & Mishra, 2005). Other scholars had proposed similar ideas (Huguest, 2005; Keating & Evans, 2001; Lundeberg et al., 2003; Margerum-Leys & Marx 2002), but it was Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) description and representation of TPACK, with minor tweaks over the next few years, that became widely adopted.
After its initial introduction, TPACK scholarship was expanded through two handbooks (AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology, 2008; Herring et al., 2016), a monthly newsletter, journal articles, conference presentations, and other publications. The newsletter and a bibliography of TPACK scholarship can be found at tpack.org. The impact of the TPACK framework can be seen in the fact that, as of April 2021, there have been 1418 articles: 318 chapters in books, 28 books, and 438 dissertations that have used TPACK as a conceptual framework to guide their work. More importantly has been the impact of TPACK on practice, with schools and colleges of education across the world incorporating the TPACK framework in teacher professional development and teacher education.
AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology. (2008). Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators. Routledge.
Herring, M. C., Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2016). Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) for educators (M. C. Herring, M. J. Koehler, & P. Mishra (eds.); 2nd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315771328
Keating, & Evans. (2001). Three computers in the back of the classroom: Preservice teachers conception of technology integration. In J. Price, D. Willis, N. Davis, & J. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of siTE 2011--Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1671–1676). https://www.learntechlib.org/p/17023/
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2005). What happens when teachers design educational technology? The development of technological pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Educational Computing, 32(2), 131–152. https://edtechbooks.org/-RAo
Lundeberg, Bergland, Klyczek, & Hoffman. (2003). Using action research to develop preservice teachers’ beliefs, knowledge and confidence about technology. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 1(4).
Margerum-Leys, J., & Mar, R. (2002). Teacher knowledge of educational Technology: A study of student teacher/mentor teacher pairs. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 26(4), 427–462.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054.
Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.57.1.j463w79r56455411
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3102/0013189x015002004
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