Developing TPACK


There have been a number of methods proposed for teacher’s development of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK).  Specific studies that characterized these approaches are described in this section:

  • From pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to TPACK describes the process of first selecting pedagogies appropriate for specific technologies, then later adding technologies with specific affordances relative to the learning objective.
  • From technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) to TPACK describes the process of selecting technologies with pedagogical purposes, then later using those technologies for specific content.
  • Developing PCK and TPACK simultaneously is characterized by the learning technology by design approach described by Mishra & Koehler (2006).
  • There have been attempts to develop TPACK in specific content areas.


Activity learning types in social studies – Harris & Hofer, (2009)

The authors described the nature of teachers’ instructional planning as situated and context-specific. A learning activity type is the product of instructional decisions, and each learning activity type captures what is most essential about a learning action. Thus, technologies may be paired with learning activity types so teachers may choose among, combine, and use them for specific standards-based instruction. The focus is on students’ learning and appropriate technologies. The authors described how activity types may be combined. For example, combining 1-2 activity types produces a highly structured, easily repeatable experience. Combining 3-5 activity types produces a medium-term learning unit. Combining 6-10 activity types creates a flexible, long-term instructional plan.

Activity learning types – Harris & Hofer (2009), Harris, Mishra, & Koehler (2009)

Harris & Hofer (2006, Harris, 2008) suggest that teachers can learn to integrate technologies in their teaching by linking students learning needs (in a specific content area), with specific learning activities and related educational technologies. Based upon curricular goals for that content-area, activity types those activities that students do, such as “group discussion,” “role play,” or “fieldtrip.” Combined together, activity types form learning activities or lessons. Possibilities for learning activities to use should be considered according to the curriculum-based learning goals most appropriate for students’ learning in a particular learning context and at a particular time. Technology, in this approach, is selected to support each activity type. For example, there are technologies well suited to support “group discussions,” these technologies differ from those well-suited to support “fieldtrip” activities.

As teachers select learning activities (to match content goals, student needs and preferences, and pedagogical/contextual realities), they are concomitantly – and authentically – learning to integrate educational technologies into their instructional planning, building their TPACK while doing so. Curriculum-based learning activity types taxonomies in multiple content areas are offered for vetting and use (with attribution) via the Activity Types Wiki. They are revised periodically according to user feedback, which is collected using interactive surveys (one per taxonomy) on the wiki.

Mathematics spreadsheets – Niess, van Zee, & Gillow-Wiles (2010)

The authors first describe how students can learn functions in a variety of ways, one of which is spreadsheets: Spreadsheets allow students to understand visually the relationships between variables. The authors describe how teachers need support in order to design activities, which use spreadsheets in mathematics classes to achieve curricular goals. The authors conducted professional development (PD) over four weeks in the summer for four hours per week, three hours per day.  After the PD, the majority of teacher’s demonstrated improvements in their TPACK and their skill in using spreadsheets in mathematics instruction.

Digital Storytelling – Hofer & Swan (2006)

Online teaching and learning – Doering, Veletsianos, Scharber, & Miller (2009)

Flexibly adaptive professional development – Trautmann & MaKinster (2010)


Advances in TPCK – Angeli and Valanides (2009)

The authors described how their focus is upon information and communication technologies (ICT), the authors refer to ICT-TPACK.  Furthermore, the authors described how a synthesized understanding of technological affordances, pedagogy, content, learners and context can offer a means for teachers to represent difficult topics, and to transfer transform content through technology.  The authors described technology mapping (TM) as a process of designing technology-enhanced learning. In TM, technology affordances are mapped onto content and pedagogy, by way of “establishing connections among a tool, content, and pedagogy (p. 161). Thus, TM is a means of progressing teachers from TPK to TPACK.

Developing PCK and TPACK Simultaneously

Preparing preservice social studies teachers to integrate technology – Brush & Saye (2009)

The author described particular uses of technology in social studies, such as locating and adapting digital resources, to working to develop critical media literacy among students. The authors explored specific teaching cases, and created a collection of online curricular resources around technology integration in social studies teaching, PIHNet ( Then, the authors described three approaches for developing PCK and TPACK simultaneously.

The first is the interactive slide lecture, where teacher educators provide preservice teachers students historical photographs and uses interactive activities to establish knowledge of a historical topic.  A second approach was to have preservice teachers design activities in technology-rich, content-based activities. One example was a group role-play activity based upon the 1965 DNC, available on the PIHNet web site.  A third approach was to integrate technology-rich activities into the teacher education program, so students see these technologies modeled in their instruction and how those tools enhance activities in social studies classrooms.

Learning Technology by Design – (Mishra & Koehler, 2006)

Learning technology by design was described by Mishra and Koehler (2006) because “the design of educational technology represented an authentic context for teachers to learn about educational technology” (p. 1034). This method allows the teacher to become the designer of experiences that incorporate technology. In the context of coursework or PD for preservice or inservice teachers, students create an artifact (such as an educational movie, a website, or for in-service teachers the development of online materials for students) which reflects the understanding of the student as the course unfolds. The emphasis is on “learning by doing” (p. 1035).  Thus, the process of developing technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) focuses on developing design skills that allow the teacher to use technologies for specific content and a specific type of instruction.

Problem based learning – So & Kim (2009)

This study investigated pre-service teachers understanding of technology integration, through problem based learning (PBL). 97 pre-service teachers in Singapore were the participants, split by their student teaching location almost qually between primary and secondary schools.  Results found the pre-service teachers lacked understanding in three areas. One area under the “technological design” category was technology integration to support students’ PBL. Two areas under the “pedagogical design” category were task design and the role of the teacher as a facilitator. Because of these deficincies, researchers conclude that pre-service teachers need a more intimate connection between their perceived abilities to integrate technology, and its challenge in practice.

Design Seminar – Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya (2007)

Developing TPACK in the Content Areas

Web 2.0 Tools For Support of Historical Inquiry in Social Studies – Bull, Hammond, & Ferster (2008)

The authors described the use of a Web 2.0 tool, PrimaryAccess, for students. PrimaryAccess consisted of links to annotated primary source documents, and an integrated script editor, for students to create “a historical narrative and place an image beside each paragraph to form a digital documentary” (p. 283).  One barrier to Web 2.0 tool use is that school-use is different from use outside school – use is constrained by curricula, among other factors. A second barrier is participation inequality: many Web 2.0 services find that about 10% contribute; in school, educators desire that percentage to be higher. A final barrier is that generic technologies are not necessarily educationally appropriate.  The authors described how an effective use of technology requires a consideration of of technology, pedagogy, and content.

Pedagogical Uses of Technology in Physical Education –  Juniu (2011)

The purpose of this article is to describe how TPACK can be used to conceptualize how pre-service physical educators learn to use technology to teach subject matter, and to present examples of learning activities that could be integrated across the physical education curriculum. The author used a nine-step instructional design model, and a five-step model for planning a learning event, to present the examples of technology in physical education. First, the author described the learning technology by design model (Mishra and Koehler, 2006), then described the project-based learning model as an alternative. The author used the principle of project-based learning for the examples of learning activities, which could be integrated across the physical education curriculum.

Adventure learning – Doering & Veletsianos (2007)

Primary source documents – Swan & Locascio (2008)


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