dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

The TPACK model

The TPACK model was created to understand the role of content, pedagogy and technology in learning in the difficult practice of teaching (Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009). Moreover, it was created to understand the relationships between content, pedagogy and technology and how these concepts interact with each other. It is a development on the ideas of Schulman (1987, 1986) (in Koehler & Mishra, 2009) that combining content and pedagogy knowledge is important, and it includes the modern visions of using technology in learning. Below, a picture of the TPACK model is given. 

In the simplest form, the TPACK model consists of three components:

  • The Content Knowledge (CK): This is knowledge that the teacher has about the content that he is teaching
  • The Pedagogical Knowledge (PK): This is knowledge that the teacher has about different ways of teaching
  • The Technological Knowledge (TK): This is knowledge that the teacher has about the technology which he can use to teach

- Please remember the abbreviations because I will use them in the rest of my blog- 

The concepts have the tendency to interact with each other, as you can see in the picture, they overlap. This is a little bit more difficult to explain. When PK and CK overlap, Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) arises. PCK is knowledge that the teacher has about how to teach certain content. When PK and TK overlap, there is Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), which is knowledge that the teacher has about how certain technology can alter his teaching or the learning of students. Last but not least, when TK and CK find each other, then Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) uprises. This is knowledge that the teacher has about how the content that he is teaching and certain technology that he is using for teaching and the influences that they have on each other. 

The overlapping components make clear that there are relations and interactions between the components. But this is not all. You can see that in the very middle of the model, PCK, TPK and TCK share some space. This is actually where the true relations and interactions take place and it is the core business of the TPACK model. In this core business, the following aspects are of importance:

  • The knowledge of using the right technologies for the right content
  • The involvement of students´ prior knowledge to the development of a pedagogy for a certain content using a certain technology
  • Using the pedagogical approaches that are right for a certain technology that helps learning a certain content
  • Using the right pedagogies and technologies that makes learning more effective for the learner
  • The understanding of how technology can change pedagogies for teaching a certain content

A teacher that works with TPACK a lot will probably become a teacher who will be able to continuously choosing the right pedagogy and technology for teaching certain content. The teacher will become aware of the advantages and disadvantages of certain technologies and pedagogies. It is expected that an experienced TPACK using teacher is able to be more flexible in switching between pedagogies and technologies. 

The practical aspect of using TPACK in a certain context is that in all different situations, the effect of the content, pedagogy and technology can be different. In the figure above this is shown by the blue dotted line that circles around the TPACK model. The context involves many factors, for example:

  • Availability of technologies. A teacher can know many things about certain technologies, but when these technologies are not available, he can not use them.
  • The school culture. The school culture can make some pedagogies or technologies more favourite or hated and this can diminish the flexible use of the teachers. Moreover, the use of different pedagogies and technologies should be supported by the school culture.
  • Teacher education. Most of the teachers have basic technology skills, but in order to use the technology they find appropriate for their pedagogy and content, they need to be trained for more detailed, personal needs skills.

So, all situations are different therefore there is probably no best way to use TPACK. For every subject, in different situations, with different teachers, applying TPACK to a lesson or lesson series can result in different outcomes. This is very interesting, because it means that there is no fixed result from using the TPACK model available. A question arising from this is then how does a teacher now that he has created a good lesson with TPACK? In this case, I think that this seems to be a bit of a paradox, because the TPACK model itself seems to be a very stable and directing model. I hope to find out more about this topic in the coming weeks.  

The TPACK model can support the development of learning activities where content, pedagogy and technology are integrated. As the learning system seems to be changing in the future and the integration of technology is needed to make the learning system future-proof, new learning activities are needed. Also, I said it before in this blog that there is a lot of interaction going on between content, pedagogy and technology. Developing (and evaluating!) the learning activities can give rise to more understanding of the interactions between the three components T, C and K in the model and which learning activities work and do not work and why. Factors that influence these interactions can be assessed and used to create an even more in-depth understanding of the TPACK model. 

Teachers who become convenient with using different technologies and pedagogies for certain content teaching might become flexible in using different approaches in teaching. This might increase student centred, technology rich classrooms and flexibility in learning. When a teacher knows about flexible options for the students, he can offer this to his students. He can offer students to learn in the way that they prefer because the teacher understands that students have different learning styles.

When teachers are thinking about redesigning their lessons using TPACK, it also stimulates professional development. This has simply to do with the fact that redesigning a lesson helps the teacher reflect on his own practices and reflection in a certain way stimulates self development and improvement of practices. I think that using TPACK is a convenient, not very difficult way to help many teachers trying to alter their teaching. 

It is said by Ertmer (2005) and Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2009) that adopting technology in the classroom can be a very slow process for teachers. Teachers need to get access and skills for using technology in the first place. Also, they need to have the belief that they find it necessary to use technology and that they are able to use technology. Teachers start by using and integrating  ´simple´ technologies in the classroom, like a PowerPoint presentation and an online movie. When they are familiar with these ´simple´ technologies, and are stimulated to use different kind of technologies they might increase their technology use in teaching. In this process, I think that using the TPACK model as a sort of ´catalyst´ in the slow process, by letting teachers think themselves about technology and teaching and showing them that simple changes can already change the non-technology teaching practice into a technology rich teaching practice...and that it is not that difficult alltogether...


Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H. & Peck, C. (2009). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: explaining a apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813-834.

Ertmer, P.A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 25-39.

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

1 opmerking:

  1. Hi Christel, thanks for your thoughts about the TPACK model. One of the things that you mention is "A question arising from this is then how does a teacher now that he has created a good lesson with TPACK?". That is a good question. On the one hand I believe that a teacher has enough (PCK) expertise to say something about his/her own quality of education. On the other hand, if the teacher is not that experienced he/she might need some help in assessing their education. We will talk about ways to do that in the next meeting!