What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPAC The handbook opens with an essay by Koehler & Mishra (2006; 2008) who developed the conceptual framework for TPCK over more than seven years of research into situated learning of technology use by teacher candidates and higher education faculty. It builds on their findings with regard to the essential characteristics of teacher knowledge required for competency. The basis for the TPCK framework is derived from Shulman’s (1968) coining of the term “pedagogical content knowledge” to describe the idea that “pedagogical practice is uniquely connected to specific content areas” (AACTE, p. 273). In other words, the nature of subject matter content combined with student learning needs determines and shapes the pedagogy teachers must use.
Koehler and Mishra proposed that the addition of technology to the learning process affects not only the manner in which the subject matter content is represented but also the pedagogical approaches the teacher must employ. Thus, when technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge are skillfully used in the classroom, a new level of teacher practice evolves—one which could only exist through an understanding of how the interaction of the three elements work together to effectively support learning. Koehler and Mishra are careful to point out that each teacher must adapt their instruction to the educational context (sociocultural, instructional, and technological) when designing instruction and that it is through continual practice with TPCK that a teacher refines the classroom experience.
The framework is followed by an important chapter on Bridging Digital and Cultural Divides that expressed an equity and multicultural perspective on TPCK. It proposed that there are three digital divides to cross: access to technology, access to achievement-enhancing technology-mediated instruction, and access to culture-sensitive technological pedagogy. This chapter exposed the social and psychological effects of technology usage in education, reinforced the situated nature of teaching, and points out that the complexity of the variables in any teaching situation often requires the teacher to custom-make the instruction to meet the unique needs of the student(s). Thus, there will be times when the teacher must improvise to accommodate either the needs of the students or the limits imposed by access to the technology. This was an important topic to consider as an introduction to the next section to the handbook which focused on curricular integration.