Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge

TPACK – Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge

TPACK is a model dating back to 2006 (Mishra & Koehler) that separates technological, pedagogical and content knowledge, and offers a productive approach to teachers facing the sometimes daunting task of infusing educational technology into modern classrooms. Content and pedagogy MUST come ahead of technological knowledge, as they form the foundation for effective ed tech implementation. The basis of this is simply that the technology chosen must enhance the communication of the content AND support the pedagogy.

To effectively explain TPACK, the three areas of necessary knowledge are drawn as circles that overlay in a semi-complex venn-type diagram that illustrates and explains the relationship between the three areas. Technology Knowledge (TK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) and Content Knowledge (CK) are combined and recombined to create the following illustration:


The image is a bit overwhelming. Let’s break it down. The three aforementioned knowledge categories make up the three main circles of the illustration. But, as expected, there is overlap. Let’s consider it.

Where technology and pedagogy overlap, we have TPK – technological Pedagogical Knowledge. This area represents the intersection between the technological tools employed by a teacher in consort with the pedagogical practices of that teacher.

Where technology and content overlap, we see TCK – Technological Content Knowledge. In this segment of the diagram, the overlap between the technology and the content (curriculum) knowledge describes the intersection of technologies and learning objectives.

The third overlap occurs where pedagogical and content knowledge (PCK) come together. This area of the diagram describes the intersection of the content knowledge and the pedagogical practices of a teacher.

Originally, the Michigan researchers developed the TPACK model because of an absence of any other model that fit the educational technology. The model has hung on because it can fit a wide variety of educational circumstances. Effective implementation of technology requires an awareness of the dynamic and transactional nature that is inherent at the intersections of these areas; all within the unique context of each class, teacher, subject and school. 

Content Knowledge (CK) – “Teachers’ knowledge about the subject matter to be learned or taught. The content to be covered in middle school science or history is different from the content to be covered in an undergraduate course on art appreciation or a graduate seminar on astrophysics… As Shulman (1986) noted, this knowledge would include knowledge of concepts, theories, ideas, organizational frameworks, knowledge of evidence and proof, as well as established practices and approaches toward developing such knowledge” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) – “Teachers’ deep knowledge about the processes and practices or methods of teaching and learning. They encompass, among other things, overall educational purposes, values, and aims. This generic form of knowledge applies to understanding how students learn, general classroom management skills, lesson planning, and student assessment.” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technology Knowledge (TK) – Knowledge about certain ways of thinking about, and working with technology, tools and resources. and working with technology can apply to all technology tools and resources. This includes understanding information technology broadly enough to apply it productively at work and in everyday life, being able to recognize when information technology can assist or impede the achievement of a goal, and being able continually adapt to changes in information technology (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) – “Consistent with and similar to Shulman’s idea of knowledge of pedagogy that is applicable to the teaching of specific content. Central to Shulman’s conceptualization of PCK is the notion of the transformation of the subject matter for teaching. Specifically, according to Shulman (1986), this transformation occurs as the teacher interprets the subject matter, finds multiple ways to represent it, and adapts and tailors the instructional materials to alternative conceptions and students’ prior knowledge. PCK covers the core business of teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and reporting, such as the conditions that promote learning and the links among curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) – “An understanding of the manner in which technology and content influence and constrain one another. Teachers need to master more than the subject matter they teach; they must also have a deep understanding of the manner in which the subject matter (or the kinds of representations that can be constructed) can be changed by the application of particular technologies. Teachers need to understand which specific technologies are best suited for addressing subject-matter learning in their domains and how the content dictates or perhaps even changes the technology—or vice versa” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) – “An understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways. This includes knowing the pedagogical affordances and constraints of a range of technological tools as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) – “Underlying truly meaningful and deeply skilled teaching with technology, TPACK is different from knowledge of all three concepts individually. Instead, TPACK is the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).



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

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x.

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

Image and definitions from