Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) is a concept or framework that guides educators through the development and revision of technology-enhanced teaching and learning. It is also a compound knowledge sustained by three bases of knowledge, which are content, pedagogy, and technology. TPACK is an adaptable approach to seamlessly integrate technology in the classroom environment. Thus, it is a model “to describe how teachers’ understanding of technologies and pedagogical content knowledge interact with one another to produce effective teaching with technology” (Koehler and Mishra. 2008:12). The complexity of developing and applying TPACK will put a greater emphasis on teachers becoming "curriculum designers" (Koehler and Mishra. 2008:3).

Here is an easy to understand video explanation of the TPACK model by Common Sense Media:

Three Components of the TPACK Model

  1. Content Knowledge (CK) is the knowledge about the actual subject matter that is to be learned or taught. It is the what of the lesson.
  2. Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) is the discipline that considers the process and methods of teaching and learning. It considers the how to teach the lesson.
  3. Technology Knowledge (TK) refers to the way technologies (tools) can be used to teach content. It's in a state of flux more than the other two components.

TPACK challenges educators to manage or balance the above three components. The key to success in applying TPACK is being flexible and sensitive to context. A particular context, where an individual teacher teaches, has decisive factors that influence the direction of his/her technology integration. Flexibility enables a teacher to think beyond the fixed concept of a technology and be able to bring out a creative way of using that technology in teaching and learning. When using TPACK, an educator may start by looking at the content and building in the pedagogy and technology; or begin with the technology component and building in the pedagogy and content; or begin with the pedagogy and build in the technology and content. Typically it starts with content though. The balance is achieved when three components interact and influence each other and form a compound knowledge-technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK). The three interacted components along with a brief explanation of each are listed below.

Interaction of Knowledge

  1. Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)
  2. Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)
  3. Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)

At the intersection of all three elements is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). True technology integration is understanding and negotiating the relationships between these three components of knowledge. An educator who understands how to connect these relationships represents a form of expertise different from, and greater than, the knowledge of experts in the individual disciplines alone. Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, [transactional] relationship between all three components (Koehler).

A range of other scholars have argued that knowledge about technology cannot be treated as context-free, and that good teaching requires an understanding of how technology relates to the pedagogy and content (Koehler).

Teachers learning to use technology for pedagogy is best achieved by situating them in contexts that honor the rich connections between technology, the subject matter (content), and the means of teaching it (the pedagogy). This led to a pedagogical approach we have called Learning Technology by Design. Teachers learn technology not by learning specific computer programs, but rather by designing technological solutions to pedagogical problems. There is little direct instruction about technology and students spend most of the class time working in small groups engaged in design-based activity. Many argue that by participating in these design activities, teachers develop knowledge of technology that is sensitive to the subject matter to be taught and the specific instructional goals. This led to the development of the TPACK framework.

Thinking Creatively: Teachers as Designers of Technology, Pedagogy, & Content by Mathew J. Koehler and Punya Mishra