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Have you ever stepped into a classroom decked out with technology, but the learning goals for the technology weren’t clear? Edtech has opened up an array of possibilities for instruction and learning. But if technology isn’t paired with good teaching and a tie-in to the subject matter, what’s the point? That’s why the TPACK model is a great way to ensure that edtech tools are integrated effectively into learning.
What does the TPACK model focus on?
In 2006, Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler developed the TPACK model. It offers educators and admin a framework for combining educational knowledge and edtech.
TPACK stands for technological pedagogical content knowledge. The goal is to build a learning environment based on an intersection of the three areas:
Ask these questions before getting started with the TPACK model:
- Technology: What is your knowledge of technology? What kind of tools and resources do you use? What are your intentions for using technology in the classroom or your school?
- Pedagogical: What are your methods for instruction and learning? Or how do you support educators with pedagogy in mind?
- Content: How deeply do you understand the subject matter you are teaching to learners? Or how well do you understand subject matter related to your role outside of the classroom? How do your learning resources relay the subject matter?
What are the seven components of TPACK?
The TPACK framework is based on the way the three areas overlap. For example, the idea is not to focus on technology without considering pedagogy or content. You also can’t place an emphasis on pedagogy, for instance, without a strong handle on your subject-matter content.
Here is how the areas intersect for successful instruction and edtech integration.
Technological knowledge (TK)
To start, you need to understand the technology. If you’re using an edtech platform, tool or resource, you need a working knowledge of its features. You also need to practice using edtech before you introduce it to learners or colleagues. Check out support articles on the tool’s website, connect with your tech admin or ask other educators or admins for tips.
Pedagogical knowledge (PK)
You also need an understanding of effective pedagogy or methods for teaching and learning. The type of methods you use depends on your learners. This could be hands-on learning, collaborative activities, bridging connections to real life, engaging in higher-order questioning or committing to inclusive education that supports every type of learner.
Content knowledge (CK)
Your knowledge of the subject matter content is obviously essential. You can’t effectively teach learners or support colleagues without an expertise in the core subjects, art, physical education, Spanish, educational leadership or IT, for instance. In most cases, you have a certification in the subject you teach or the administrative role you have. It’s important, though, to continuously refresh your content knowledge. Have learning standards changed? Has scholarly knowledge about your subject changed? What’s new in your content area?
Technological content knowledge (TCK)
In this overlap, throughout history there have been ways that technology has advanced subject matter. For example, think about the advances the microscope made for scientific study. The type of edtech you choose should also strengthen learners’ understanding of the subject matter. Perhaps an audio book could help dyslexic learners better understand a lesson on character motivation in language arts. Or a PhET simulation could make kinetic versus potential energy click with your middle school science class.
Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)
This overlap is about choosing specific teaching and learning methods for your content area. Maybe you were a biology major in college, which means you’re an expert in that area of science. But if you don’t know methods for teaching biology specifically to the diverse learners in your class, your expertise won’t be enough.
If you teach history, let’s say that your next unit is about the Aztec Empire. Rather than asking learners to read the state textbook and answer questions at the end of the chapter, go further with your pedagogy. An inquiry-based pedagogical approach could lead to deeper learning of the content as learners investigate different historical perspectives.
Technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK)
This area is about how technology can lead to more effective instruction and engage learners. How does the edtech you choose help you teach better or strengthen your admin or tech role at your school? For example, Adelee Penner used the edtech tool Hāpara Highlights to build a culture of resilience in her classroom. This instructional and learning method developed student agency and digital citizenship awareness.
Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)
Here’s where we put it all together. The edtech in your classroom and in your school should improve instruction, and it should make learning specific content more meaningful. Let’s say your school purchased upgraded interactive whiteboards for every classroom. If educators don’t understand how to use them creatively for their subject, they may just use them as basic overhead projectors every day. When the edtech isn’t tied to pedagogy and content, the money your school spends may not be worth it.
What are the benefits of TPACK?
TPACK helps you understand how technology can strengthen instructional methods and connect to content. It also allows you to reflect on whether technology is actually helping learning in purposeful ways. Whether you’re a classroom educator, a tech admin, an instructional coach or a principal, use TPACK as a guide for technology decisions and integration.
For example, if your learners have Chromebooks but only use them to type answers to questions in Google Docs, that’s not inherently wrong. But how can they use their Chromebooks to make the content more meaningful, and how can you be more innovative with your pedagogy? Hint, these Google Docs activities are a good starting point.
How can you apply TPACK to your adoption of edtech?
If your school has selected a new edtech platform, tool or resource, the adoption needs to be successful. Foremost, educators need to:
- Understand how to use it and have time to dive into its features
- See clear connections between the edtech and the content they teach
- Have an initial set of instructional and learning methods that tie to the edtech
Hāpara blends the elements of TPACK into our free professional learning offerings. Our goal is for educators and schools to transform learning when using our tools. While our edtech tools are user-friendly, we also want to offer support for educators of every skill level.
Hāpara Learning Bytes is our online micro-badging program. It offers educators and admin asynchronous courses that take an hour or less to complete. You can find courses on the following Hāpara tools and how they tie into effective teaching and learning:
- Teacher Dashboard
- Student Dashboard
For educators and admin who want a comprehensive professional learning experience, we offer the Hāpara Champion certification program. This asynchronous program combines training for the full Hāpara Instructional Suite, along with pedagogical best practices and connections to your subject area.
✔️ Don’t think about technology, pedagogy or subject matter content in isolation.
✔️ Stay on top of new types of technology, pedagogical approaches and updates to content.
✔️ Evaluate edtech by determining how it will help teaching and learning, and how it will support specific content.
✔️ As you integrate edtech in your classroom or school, consider creative uses to deepen learning.
✔️ Edtech tools should offer professional learning that ties technology training, pedagogy and content together.