Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TPACK: Total PACKage of Teachers’ Creativity

What is TPACK?

Basically, TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. TPACK is built on Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) by adding the aspect of technology knowledge into it. We may see that there are 3 components of knowledge combined together in there: technology, pedagogy, and content. Let us look at them closer!

Content Knowledge (CK) refers to what subject and what goals to be reached. In traditional approach, this knowledge has been emphasized a lot without giving proper attention to other knowledge. Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) refers to the best way to teach the subject and reach the intended goals. Adding the PK to the CK will result in Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) which surely makes teacher knowledge much better than the traditional approach. Since its introduction in 1987, PCK has become a widely useful and used notion.

Not every pedagogical approach is best suited to any particular content. Therefore, it is expected that by having PCK teachers will be able to select among many approaches the best way (pedagogy) to deliver the information (content).
Figure 1. Pedagogical Content Knowledge
source: http://tpack.org

Later, Technology Knowledge (TK) came up as a need of tools that make teachings more effective. The facts of many teachers are inadequate (or inappropriate) experienced with using technology, or even worse they do not value the technology, makes this knowledge become very important.

Combined with CK, TK appears as Technological Content Knowledge (TCK). It is related with knowing what technology that appropriate to a particular subject or topic. Similar with PCK issue, it is found also that not every technology can be used to teach any content. In short, we may say that TCK is about how to use technology to support the subject or content.

TK can be also combined with PK and become Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK). This knowledge will allow teachers to see many possibilities of new ways of learning by using technology. On the other hand, technology can also put constrain to pedagogical approach. Then, the teachers should be encouraged to use their TPK to deal with this case.

Finally, we are in the last combination of those components. It is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) or more commonly called as TPACK. TPACK is the knowledge about how CK, PK, and TK work together.

Figure 2. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
source: http://tpack.org

From the model, we can see that TPACK always work in a specific context. A specific context meant here refers to an institution, a school, or a classroom. Therefore, integration efforts should be designed for particular content in specific context (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).


Technology is changing rapidly. Somehow it becomes too much and get teachers overwhelmed. Therefore, teachers must do more than how to use technologies with new techniques or skills. Due to this phenomenon, the idea of integrating technology to teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge turns to be frustrating. This is the reason why TPACK become very important.

In their video Koehler and Mishra mentioned that technology changes WHAT we teach (content) and HOW we teach (pedagogy), as well. This is what TPACK is meant for: to understand the complex relationship between technology, content, and pedagogy and do the changes needed for the effective teachings.

Implications (Added Value) of TPACK

There are two main added values of TPACK framework that I found from the literatures: Teacher Professional Development (TPD) and effective Technology Integration Program (TIP).

TPACK is a complete knowledge needed by a teacher. Having this knowledge will benefit teachers to run effective teaching activities. Activity types list from Harris, Mishra and Kohler (2009) is to help teachers become aware of many possibilities of activity options and many different ways that tools support one to another. This list can be also used to select among, customize, and combine activity types that are well matched to students’ needs and a particular context. The continuous application of this knowledge eventually will enhance teacher ability and support TPD itself. I would like to say that continuous process in TPACK implementation will lead to continuous process of TPD, as well.

In abovementioned paragraph it is said that TPACK is necessary to effective teaching. Every single effective teaching will lead to a successful TIP in a specific context. For example, when TPACK is implemented well by all teachers in their own classrooms, we may be sure that the effective TIP successfully happens in that school.

In addition, TPACK framework also offers possibilities for the researches. The promoting researches can be carried out in teacher education, TPD, or TIP (Kohler & Mishra, 2009). The researches may explore and compare many TPACK-based models implemented in teacher education, TPD, or TIP. For examples, TPACK-based professional development models. It is expected, of course, that the result will be useful to develop those TPACK-based models.


“Teaching is a complicated practice,” said Petra in her previous lecture. She affirmed that teacher needs many specialized knowledge. Based on my previous profession as an elementary teacher for 6 years, it is very true. Many things should be considered during the preparation of and during the lesson, as well. For many times, I had to admit that I lack of appropriate knowledge to run my teaching activities.

Dealing with the use of technology in my lesson brought me to another complication. I was often trapped to learn more about how to work with the technologies rather than examining whether it is best suited or not with my lesson. Recently, based on my reading and personal understanding I got new insight that learning about how to use technology is definitely different than learning what to do with it. Now, I believe that the knowledge of what to do with technology is more essential for teachers than the techniques or skill needed to use the technology.

Furthermore, in my opinion, TPACK is closely related with teachers’ creativity. It is not merely about thinking out of the box with astonishing or unique thought or idea, but also how useful the idea is. Later, the integration of the idea and its value may result in completeness of creativity.

I remember the card game we played in our first lecture with Petra. Together with two of my classmates, I had to think about a best-suited way to teach a specific content using a particular technology. The cards we got are Geometry (content), Discussion (pedagogy), and Video/recording (technology). At that moment, we used our limited TPACK to find the best solution. It was so interesting and I enjoyed the game very much, although the solution we got was so “weird”. Petra successfully proved that TPACK is not as simple as I thought when I heard the name.

I learnt that TPACK allows many possibilities; no more walls between Technology, Content, and Pedagogy exist. Integration of those knowledge results in a total package needed to have effective integrate technology. Actually, this is not a new brand in educational activity because many experienced teachers might understand TPACK instinctively. The problem emerged here is that they often do not use this knowledge properly. Therefore, as the designers of their own teaching, teachers should be encouraged to apply TPACK to get Total PACKage of their creativity.
In this case, Total PACKage will become total benefit.

That’s another discovery of mine…

Ready to have TPACK with you? Why not!


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

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

AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology. (2008). Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators. New York: Routledge.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Bertha, thank you for your post and your personal reflection! It would be interesting to hear what you think about supporting teachers in developing TPACK with your own teaching experience in mind. And what about creativity? Is this something that teachers automatically have?