Utilizing TPACK Framework to Design Blended Instruction

Blended learning has drawn a lot of attention in recent years. Since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities moved their courses online, and students were given the option to attend classes on-site or remotely. In blended learning, instead of sitting in a brick-and-mortar classroom, students could learn anytime and anywhere utilizing modern technologies. In the post-pandemic era, blended learning is still favored by institutions worldwide. Many universities have combined and implemented various teaching modes to meet individual students' needs, improve their learning experience, and attract and retain more students. This article aims to provide theoretical and practical guidelines for instructors, trainers, and instructional designers when designing blended courses.


Blended learning is defined as "a combination of onsite (i.e. face-to-face) with online experiences to produce effective, efficient, and flexible learning" (Stein & Graham, 2014). A blended course involves face-to-face sessions supplemented by online learning opportunities. Online learning could take place before or after classroom teaching. For instance, students can read the learning materials online first and then come to the classroom for Q&A sessions (e.g., group discussion), and vice versa, students can refer to the online learning materials after class to deepen their knowledge acquired during a face-to-face session. One of the most prominent blended learning models used amidst the pandemic teaching is HyFlex (i.e. Hybrid and flexible) instruction. HyFlex instruction provides students with diverse and flexible learning experiences. In a HyFlex course, students can choose to attend class on-site, synchronously online, or asynchronously online and have the freedom to switch the mode based on their needs and schedules (Beatty, 2019).


To design a blended course, instructors need to have a sound knowledge of how to utilize technologies to create digital content and online learning experiences for their students. Computer-based instruction enables students to learn at their own pace and enhances their engagement with the content. In addition to acquiring technological knowledge, instructors also need to obtain content and pedagogical knowledge to design effective technology-enhanced instruction (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). After five years of research in teacher professional development and faculty development program in higher education, Mishra and Koehler (2006) proposed a teacher knowledge for technology integration framework (i.e. TPACK). In the framework, Mishra and Koehler elaborated on content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK), and technological knowledge (TK), discussed those components in pairs, including pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), technological content knowledge (TCK), and technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK), as well as altogether as technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) as shown in Figure 1. Instructors and course developers can use this framework to design computer-based instruction and evaluate their readiness to offer blended courses.



Figure 1. TPACK framework reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org



Content knowledge (CK). Content knowledge refers to the "actual subject matter that is to be learned or taught" (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1026). This requires the instructor to be the subject-matter expert who is knowledgeable in their disciplines, whether math, science, language, or art. The author of this article often reminds their students enrolled in the digital education program at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) that they should know well what to teach, regardless of whether they want to become teachers or corporate trainers. In their teaching session, they should get ready to answer questions from students.


Pedagogical knowledge (PK). Pedagogical knowledge refers to the "deep knowledge about the processes and practices or methods of teaching and learning and how it encompasses, among other things, overall educational purposes, values, and aims" (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1026-1027). In simple words, it is about knowing how to teach using relevant methods and approaches. Teachers should be familiar with a variety of teaching methods, including collaborative learning, problem-based learning, and gamification, and be able to implement appropriate instructional methods in face-to-face and online learning environments.


Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Pedagogical content knowledge concerns the use of the most suitable instructional method(s) to teach given content. It does not simply require the teacher to know the content and pedagogy, but to combine the two components effectively. For instance, to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) to students in a blended course, the instructor can teach the key concepts of AI in a face-to-face classroom and/or post a video of AI online (e.g., in a Learning Management System), and then have students work on hands-on activities using AI tools either individually or collaboratively.


Technological knowledge (TK). Technological knowledge refers to knowledge about technologies used in teaching and learning. In a blended course, the instructor should know how to use computers, projectors, and digital whiteboards in the classroom, as well as online technologies, including online conferencing tools (e.g., Zoom and Tencent Meeting), online collaborative tools (e.g., Tencent Docs, Miro, and Boardmix), and virtual reality technologies for immersive learning.


Technological content knowledge (TCK). Technological content knowledge is the "knowledge about the manner in which technology and content are reciprocally related" (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1028). TCK concerns selecting the right tools to teach concepts, facts, and practices. For instance, in medical school, students are taught to perform surgery in a virtual reality simulation environment to prepare them to treat actual patients and transfer learning into real-world situations; In a language class, talking dictionaries can be used by students to learn new words.


Technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK). Technological pedagogical knowledge is "the knowledge of how various technologies can be used in teaching" (Schmidt et al., 2009, p. 125) and "an understanding that a range of tools exists for a particular task" (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1028). Mishra and Koehler (2006) also provided examples of technological pedagogical knowledge as "knowledge for maintaining class records, attendance, and grading, and knowledge of generic technology-based ideas such as WebQuests, discussion boards, and chat rooms" (p.1028).


Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK): Technological pedagogical content knowledge is the intertwining of technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge. When creating technology-enhanced instruction, those three factors shouldn't be considered separately but altogether. Instructors ought to carefully select proper technologies and pedagogies to teach content (Schmidt et al., 2009) while taking students' prior knowledge, technology access, and interests into consideration. An example of TPACK would be the knowledge of knowing "how to use Wiki as a communication tool to enhance collaborative learning in social science" (Chai et al., 2013).


TPACK is a frequently used framework to indicate the knowledge an instructor or instructional design team should possess to create a technology-enhanced curriculum and guide the integration of technology into curriculum design. In this article, the author also discusses the potential and practices of utilizing the TPACK framework to design blended courses and learning experiences. Many scholars also developed survey instruments to assess the TPACK of teachers, such as the Survey of Preservice Teachers' Knowledge of Teaching and Technology by Schmidt et al. (2009) and Survey to Measure Inservice Teachers' Confidence Related to the TPACK Constructs by Graham et al. (2009). The teaching and learning center and professional development unit in various institutions could utilize those survey instruments to assess teachers' or trainers' readiness to use technologies in their teaching; Hence, to better support instructors, trainers, and course developers to design blended courses utilizing the TPACK framework.





Beatty, B. J. (2019). Beginnings: Where Does Hybrid-Flexible Come From? Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (1st ed.). EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex.


Chai, C. S., Koh, J. H. L., & Tsai, C. C. (2013). A review of technological pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(2), 31-51.


Graham, R. C., Burgoyne, N., Cantrell, P., Smith, L., St Clair, L., & Harris, R. (2009). Measuring the TPACK confidence of inservice science teachers. TechTrends, 53(5), 70-79.


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers college record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x.


Schmidt, D. A., Baran, E., Thompson, A. D., Mishra, P., Koehler, M. J., & Shin, T. S. (2009). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) the development and validation of an assessment instrument for preservice teachers. Journal of research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 123-149.


Stein, J., & Graham, C. (2014). Orientation to Blended Teaching and Learning. In M. Vai (Ed.), Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide (pp. 9–27). Routledge.


Dr. Qing Zhang,
Academy of Future Education

25 July 2023

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