TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, and acts as a framework for understanding the complex connections and interplay between technology, pedagogy, and content, all within the greater contexts of the specific learning environment. The concept of TPACK is generally represented as a venn diagram, with three large circles representing the domains described above, and the intersections broken down further into technological pedagogical knowledge, technological content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and lastly, right in the middle of the overlap, technological pedagogical content knowledge.
At first I found the concept to be a little confusing. At first glance, it is very jargon heavy – while familiar with the individual concept of the three fields of knowledge being pedagogy, content, and technology, when strung together into fourteen syllables, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Another facet that added to uncertainty regarding the topic is the way that to understand the concept of TPACK, you must understand the larger systems that create it. These two things coupled together made the concept of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge seem far more daunting at first glance than it actually is. When broken down, it is clear that TPACK is the true heart of the connections between technology, content knowledge, and the craft of teaching.
I personally find anecdotes and examples to be incredibly helpful in anchoring in new information to my lexicon of knowledge, so it was helpful to break down the concept of TPACK in the same way. The example that helped me grasp the concept is as follows:
Let’s say there is an individual with a passionate interest in Shakespeare. They know the ins and outs of Shakespeare’s life and works. This is Content Knowledge (CK). This content knowledge alone does not mean that this individual has the pedagogical knowledge needed to teach a class about Shakespeare, nor the technological knowledge to present the information in a new and exciting way. If this individual is also trained in pedagogy, meaning having background in classroom management, lesson planning, evaluation, and the craft of teaching, then this individual could very well teach a course on Shakespeare, due to their Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). Pedagogical Content Knowledge is that which most teachers are required to have: the information both on the subject at hand, and the ability to present it. If this individual also had knowledge regarding technology, and the ability to implement technology into their class on Shakespeare, then this individual could be said to have Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. In other words, this individual has the knowledge and ability to use technology to supplement their teaching on a given subject matter.
Now that I have more firmly grasped the concept of TPACK, I can see more clearly how I may use this framework in my own teaching. It is helpful to see these different domains of knowledge in terms of education, as it allows for room to grow. While teaching has long since required Pedagogical Content Knowledge, it is clear now more than ever that educators must find ways to translate this virtually, and use technology to further evolve in their teaching. Pandemic aside, considering how much of children’s and teenagers’ lives today exist online, it makes sense that their education should incorporate some of that same world so familiar to them.
I hope that TPACK continues to change the landscape of education, and that more educators actively pursue adding technology to their repertoire. In a fast-paced and modern world such as ours, our educators need to be ready.