maandag 24 oktober 2011

The TPACK model and its values

In my posts you could have read already about technology, pedagogy and content, but not yet about the combination of these aspects. In this blog post I will write about combining these aspects by using the TPACK model. In short this model states that ‘any use of technology in education needs to fit with the pedagogical style and the content’.
Figure 1. TPACK model (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

The TPACK model like it is shown in figure 1 is established in 2009 and originated in the ideas of Shulman (1986). Shulman assumed that a good teacher knows how to integrate pedagogies with content. Based on this idea the model called Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) was established in which the focus is on integrating pedagogical and content knowledge. As a teacher you should have sufficient Content knowledge: knowledge about the subject matter you want to teach your students. Next to that you need to have sufficient Pedagogical knowledge: knowledge about the way of teaching: what methods and educational processes to use to address the subject matter, how to manage the classroom and the way you want to assess the students in the end.
The model has been extended with the component Technology (T), from then the model was called TPACK (Koehler & Mishra, 2005). The K is for knowledge and the A is for ‘and’.
This framework is an aid for teachers to combine all three components and create a consistent whole when they are designing a lesson. The model makes you aware that you should think about all the aspects, but even more important to think about the overlapping areas. The model focuses mainly on the interactions and integration of content, pedagogy and technology knowledge. It is important to think thoroughly not only about each type of knowledge but even more important about the overlapping area’s: Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).
What do all these overlapping area’s mean?
Technological Pedagogical Knowledge is about how to adapt the pedagogy when using technology. When using technology you should look for a pedagogy which fits with the chosen technology. The teacher should know the advantages and disadvantaged a certain type of technology brings with it regarding the choice of pedagogies.
Technological Content Knowledge is about the way in which content and technology influence each other. Teachers have to understand how a certain subject can best be supported by technology. And they should also know that when they want to use a particular type of technology that they need to look for a subject with fits with this technology, so that not just every subject can be taught using that form of technology.  
Pedagogical Content Knowledge is about combining pedagogies with subject matter, like in Shulman’s PCK model. The teacher should take the next questions into account: In what way should I address my subject matter so that each individual student progresses? What assessment fits with this way of teaching and with the subject matter?  
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge means that all three just described overlapping areas have been integrated. It emphasizes that you cannot just ignore a part of this model since everything is intertwined like the Spider web model of Jan van den Akker (2003). If you change one aspect you should also regard the other aspects and possibly you will also have to change some parts of that. To realize a lesson according to the TPACK model the teacher should have an understanding of how to integrate all domains.
In the latest form of the model, the component ‘contexts’ is also included, which is made clear by the blue dotted line surrounding the model (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). It shows that it is necessary for the teacher to know the target group, school, infrastructure and surroundings as well (Voogt, Fisser & Tondeur, 2010). A lesson could be brilliantly designed, but if it does not fit with its contexts there is a big chance it will not have the desired effect.

To give an example of a lesson designed by the TPACK model I will use an example from last lecture. In groups we had to design a lesson and think about all TPACK components and how to combine them. I can tell you: it was not an easy job! We designed a lesson with the content knowledge about the occurrence of thunderstorms. We used inquiry based learning as our pedagogical knowledge and for the technological knowledge we chose to use a simulation. Regarding the TPK the choice of pedagogy was almost determined when we chose to use a simulation since for every simulation inquiry based learning fits best. So you see that the choice of technology in this case limits the choice of pedagogy. When we look at the TCK: I think that content and technology fit very well together since with a simulation you can show very clearly the reactions during a thunderstorm. And lastly PCK, I think the combination of inquiry based learning with the subject matter of the occurrence of thunderstorms can be very effective since the students can put in some input and look at the output of the simulation and draw conclusions.   

What makes this model so valuable?
I think there are some different reasons for this.
1.    Firstly, the model makes teachers realize that you cannot just put content, pedagogy and technology together, but that it is really necessary to consider how to combine these three and think about the consequences of the choices you make. Most trainings regarding technology nowadays are focused on only technology: put on the computer, open this program etc. In this way technology is taught like it is ‘one size fits all’ and they do not tell about the integration of T, P and C. For some teachers the integration of the components can be really new since they are not used to think about it.
·         With the TPACK model you are forced to think really critically about each individual component;
·         With the TPACK model you realize that it always depends on the context and the choice of the other components you made, what is the best pedagogy/technology and content.

2.    The TPACK model can give teachers handhold when designing a lesson; for the TPACK novice but also for the TPACK expert! For teachers who do not have experience with the model, they can design a lesson step by step: first looking at P, C and T separately and then looking at TPK, TCK and PCK and if necessary make changes in the chosen components. In this way the model can give some peace for the teacher.
·         For teacher who are new to the model: the model can be like an roadmap.
Especially for the teachers who have experience with the model, the model can serve as a kind of checklist: Did I think about all aspects and mainly at how to combine these aspects?
·         For experienced teachers the model can be like a checklist.

3.    Teachers might become less frightened with regard to the use of technology when they see technology as an integrated part of teaching. For a lot of teachers, and not even only the old ones!, using technology in the classroom is a little bit scary. They are not used to do this and they also do not have had sufficient training for this. For a lot of teachers there is a gap between technology and education. When they learn to use technology as an integrated aspect of their lesson this fear might decrease.

4.    The TPACK model can provide a systematic way to approach the environment of the student. Nowadays students spend a lot of their time using different kind of technologies like a laptop, social media or an Iphone. As a teacher you would like to have motivated students and you can possibly motivate your students by using the technology they like. In this case the TPACK model can be really useful since I think for most teachers it is hard to find a way to use this new technology. Knowing what aspects to take into account makes the gap between technology and education a lot smaller.     

I think the TPACK model can be really useful to help teachers to make meaningful use of technology in education since teachers are forced to look at each individual aspect and how to combine these aspects. The model does not prescribe how teachers should use technology in their own practice, since there is no one best way of working. Instead it provides teachers with tools how to design a lesson and the aspects they need to think about. This makes the model very flexible and applicable in different situationsI think the model is very useful for both: novices and experts with the TPACK model. It would be good to teach teachers how to use this model since they can have great benefits from it. Perhaps the model could be integrated into teacher education so that they can already learn to use the model before their teaching career starts and after finishing teacher education they are able to make flexible use of the model.    


Akker, J. van den (2003). Curriculum perspectives: An introduction. In J. van den Akker, W. Kuiper & U. Hameyer   
     (Eds.), Curriculum landscapes and trends (1-10). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Koehler, M. J. & Mishra, P. (2005). What happens when teachers design educational technology? The development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Journal of Educational Computing Research,32(2), 131-152.

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

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

Voogt, J., Fisser, P., & Tondeur, J. (2010). Maak kennis met TPACK. Hoe kan een leraar ict integreren in het onderwijs? Zoetermeer: Stichting Kennisnet. 

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Good post! I especially liked #3 above: "Teachers might become less frightened with regard to the use of technology when they see technology as an integrated part of teaching."

    I hadn't previously thought about TPACK in that way, but I think you're right. Likewise, perhaps, technology specialists can feel less frightened about teaching too, as teaching relates to technology!

  2. Hi Martine, nice ideas, especially on how to use the model in practice. As we discussed previously, the model is not a design model or a professional development model, but it can be used as a basis to do the things you suggest!