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Understanding the TPACK framework

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The TPACK framework was first introduced by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler of Michigan State University in 2006. This framework identifies three domains of knowledge needed to successfully integrate educational technology:

  • Content Knowledge (CK)
  • Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)
  • Technological Knowledge (TK) 

Each domain also intersects with the other domains. The knowledge, skills, and know-how developed where all three domains overlap and integrate cohesively is referred to as TPACK and is seen as the basis for effective technology integration.

In TPACK, all three domains of content, pedagogy, and technology are of equal importance and interdependent with one another.

Content, pedagogy, and technology integration

The intersecting domains of TPACK remind us that the three domains are interdependent. Any changes to one area will have an effect on other areas. 

A Venn diagram of three intersecting circles, Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Technological Knowledge.
Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by

Throughout the course design process, consider how technology will integrate with content and pedagogy. In the same way that learning assessments and activities are selected to support the learning objectives, technology tools and know-how should be selected based on how they enhance and support the assessments and activities. With TPACK we see that technology is like salt and flavorings in a stew. It enhances and supports the whole, and is not just a garnish to be added at the end of the course design process. 

TPACK manifests as a variety of skills such as the ability to evaluate and select the right tool for your pedagogic need, finding digital content specific to your discipline area, or operating a specific tool effectively.

An example of the TPACK for a social science class might be the knowledge of how to manage and assess student contributions to an online discussion forum in Canvas (TK), where students cite evidence arguing for and against (PK), the authenticity of authorship of key historical manuscripts (CK). 

Understanding TPACK for students

The TPACK framework can also be extended to understand how students might engage with the instructional elements of the course. Particularly in an online course, careful consideration should be put into the TPACK intersections. If students are not comfortable or proficient with a technology tool, it can affect their ability to approach the content. If pedagogic goals are unclear or poorly aligned, students may struggle to select an appropriate technology tool or technique.

At Stanford, there are many experts to support instructors in developing the TPACK needed to effectively facilitate online learning. Connect to academic technology specialists in CTL or in your program for more. 

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Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledgeTeachers College Record. 108(6), 1017-1054.