On Teachers’ Technical Knowledge

I’ve been thinking about Mishra and Kohler’s (2009) TPACK, the framework for understanding teaching in the digital world. Over time, the tools that provide educational relevant capacity have expanded. Today, we include:

  • Computers: The desktops and laptops with Windows or the Macintosh OS installed.
  • Applications: The programs used on computers. Your profession probably has “industry standard” and “industry common” titles, and instructors provide students with experience using these.
  • Mobile devices: Increasingly, the device of choice for students is a smartphone or tablet. Instructors have a responsibility to create mobile-friendly materials whenever possible.
  • Web services: In many professions, web sites programmed to provide sophisticated data services are replacing applications and local servers. Instructors can expect email, library catalogs, student information, and most business operations to be managed via web services.

Exactly which tools one uses depends on personal preferences, those used in one’s profession, and those provided by the school where one teaches.

We can differentiate two types of technological knowledge. First is the technological knowledge that instructors develop and maintain on their own. This includes using common devices to access, create, and share information. Community college leaders expect instructors to be able to use word processors, email, the web, and other tools for personal and professional purposes, and they are expected to maintain and update those skills as systems change.

Second is the technological knowledge that is specific to the systems used in particular organizations. While instructors are expected to maintain basic technological knowledge independently, they can expect training and support in knowing how to log on to and use hardware in your classroom, the student management and learning management systems you use, email, and other technology needed for teaching.


Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)?. Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education9(1), 60-70.