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Demystifying TPACK: Connecting Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge

Tl;DR (Too Long, Didn't Read Summary)

What is TPACK?  At its core, TPACK is a framework that explains how technology, pedagogy and content knowledge coalesce to create effective learning experiences.

This post is designed to support a one-hour professional development session exploring the TPACK framework and applying it to creating a lesson. Of course, you are welcome to peruse the resources here and gleam what you can from them, but please know that this post is not a “blog post” in the traditional sense.

The agenda and supporting resources for the professional development session follows.

Session Agenda

Session Resources

Warm-Up Activity – Students Learn Best When…

Links to Google Slide presentations created by Westbrook High School faculty on 15 March 2015.

Today, we are going to demystify one of the frameworks that describe what effective teaching and learning looks like, the TPACK framework.


When you think about your classroom, the teaching and learning that happens there, and all of the educational technology tools available, the possibilities can feel endless.  With so many different technology tools, teaching techniques and varied opinions about each, it can be difficult to decipher which tool and techniques to employ in your classroom.


Fortunately, the TPACK framework provides a flexible framework to make these choices easier and maximize the learning in your classroom.


In this video, we will unpack TPACK from the back, starting with Content Knowledge, then exploring Pedagogy and Technology and finish up by exploring how each of these areas interacts to create outstanding educational experiences.


Before you teach anything, you have to have something to teach.  The CK in the TPACK framework describes “what” of your teaching. CK Stands for Content Knowledge, the knowledge and skills associated with the subject or subjects that you teach.  


As a teacher, you possess a great deal of Content Knowledge.  Whether its solving polynomial equations, writing a great thesis statement or identifying the causes of the civil war, you possess knowledge and skills that you would like your students to share with you.


Drawing on your content knowledge, you create learning targets, the outcomes that you would like to see as a result of your teaching.  For instance, this video has the following learning targets,


After viewing this video, viewers will be able to….

Explain the TPACK framework to a peer and use the TPACK framework to plan a lesson.


Now that you have established the “what” of your teaching from your content knowledge, it is time to move on to the “how” and the “P” in TPACK.  In this framework, “P” stands for Pedagogical Knowlege, knowledge of “the method and practice of teaching.”


Theories and strategies for teaching effectively abound, but ultimately, the choice of theories and strategies of teaching is left to individual teachers in their classrooms.  As a result, teachers have to use their professional judgment to select appropriate theories and strategies to best help their students learn. Whether they choose direct instruction, modeling, questioning, conferring, cooperative learning, a jigsaw, project-based learning or another approach, teachers must decide how to best use instructional time to support their students in reaching their learning objectives.


Now that we have unpacked the PACK and covered the what and how of teaching, we are left with the T.  The T in TPACK stands for Technological Knowledge, knowledge of the tools that we use to help learners reach their learning goals.  While most of us probably think of technology as digital gadgets or things that require electricity like cell phones and computers, technology is actually defined as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.”  As a result, any material that you use in your classroom, from chalk to blackboard, pencil to paper, laptop to 3D Printer, can be considered a piece of technology.


In the same way that certain teaching strategies are appropriate for certain learning tasks and inappropriate in others, specific technology tools can enhance or detract from the effectiveness of teaching.  When deciding when or whether to use a piece of technology in a classroom, it is important to consider if and how the technology augments learners ability to demonstrate their learning and ensure that the technology does not prevent learners from doing so.


Each of these areas, Content Knowledge, Pedagogy and Technology, interact with each other to contribute to the effectiveness of teaching and learning.  Hence, TPACK can be broken down into smaller segments PCK, TPK and TCK.

PCK – Pedagogical Content Knowledge


,the forefather of TPACK and often associated with Lee S. Shulman, is knowledge of how to teach your particular subject or subjects.  Knowledge of this kind relates to understanding the proper sequencing of topics for effective learning in your field, how your field solves disputes about contested knowledge and effective teaching strategies for your areas of expertise.  For example, annotation may not be a go-to technique in Math class, but it is vital for the study of reading and writing. Manipulatives may not be very useful for many reading and writing concepts, but they can make a huge difference in learning in mathematics.  


TPK – Technological Pedagogical Knowledge


Concerns what effects technology has on the breadth and depth of student learning. Let’s consider the example of audiobooks.  Audiobooks are a technology. How does their use impact comprehension of text? When used alone? When used in conjunction with text?  These are the types of questions considered when considering Technology Pedagogical Knowledge.


TCK – Technological Content Knowledge


Is the knowledge of the role that technology plays in the content area or areas that you teach and how it enhances the knowledge in these areas.


How do microscopes affect knowledge in the Sciences?  How does the typewriter or word processor influence writing?  How do calculators or computers change the methods of solving mathematical problems?


The power of the TPACK framework is that it provides a simple skeleton to structure your planning of learning experiences.  Planning with TPACK is as simple as answering: What?

How? And Which?


When planning with TPACK, you begin by asking What?  What Content Knowledge will you share with learners? What will learners know and be able to do after this learning experience?


Drawing from your knowledge of Pedagogy, you then ask How?  How will learners gain this knowledge or skill?


Finally, drawing from your knowledge of technology, you ask which tools will best allow students to gain and share their new knowledge and skills?


While the TPACK Framework may appear complex upon first glance, the benefits that it provides for teachers and learners are simple and powerful.  The best lessons contain content that is powerful, pegagogy that engages and technology that enables the acquisition and sharing of growth.


As you grow your knowledge in the each of areas of TPACK: Content, Pedagogy and Technology, you expand the possibilities for providing learners with engaging, enriching and effective learning experiences, and that, after all, is what teaching is all about.

Planning for Pollution Using TPACK

Practice you TPACK Planning skills by revamping this sample lesson:

Pollution – Sample Lesson – TPACK Practice


Pick a Tool, Any Tool - Educational Technology Tools to Consider