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What’s TPACK Got To Do With It?

This is the fifth blog in s series dedicated to TPACK.

In my previous posts, I’ve discussed why I use TPACK and its three essential knowledge bases: Technological, Pedagogical, and Content. In this post, I’m going to define how I understand TPACK’s application to classroom teaching.

When Koehler & Mishra (2009) defined TPACK, they wrote:

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 (p. 66).

I like this definition because it captures all the elements that comprise TPACK, but it is a bit “full” of information. To unpack TPACK, I present it is the integration and use of technology to support effective teaching. Let me give you an example.

Imagine that you have just assigned your students a research paper to complete about a topic. Perhaps paper’s subject is a historical moment, a current event, a scientific principle, etc. The teacher uses Content Knowledge when creating and assigning the paper. At the minimum, teachers must consider who their students are and understand the knowledge they want their students to demonstrate. That way, teachers can enact Pedagogical Knowledge when they teach the skills students need to have in order to both conduct the research and compose their paper. Finally, Technological Knowledge is integrated into this example when the teacher is explaining how to conduct research online and when students are composing their research paper. Furthermore, higher-order Technological Knowledge (e.g., SAMR’s Modification and Redefinition levels) are engaged if the teacher has students present their research as something other than a traditional paper, such as a newspaper, website, and movie.

To me, I see TPACK as a blending of its knowledge bases. TPACK is not 33.3% of each knowledge base. Those numbers will shift according to the objectives of the lesson, and that is an important concept to understand. There is not a quintessential “right way” to use TPACK. Remember that good teaching and learning existed for centuries previous to TPACK. Rather, it represents a frame, a way of thinking, about using instructional technology as part of good teaching. To rely on a “technology-as-teacher” mindset is incorrect, technology only represents a tool teachers can use (albeit a powerful tool). In close, TPACK is a tool for blending good content, teaching strategies, and technology together for the purpose of preparing students for 21st century demands using 21st century education.

As always, if you have any comments or feedback, I’d love to hear. Feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!



Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.