I would feel privileged in school when the teacher would call on me to come and write on the blackboard. The speed with which I would walk towards the blackboard was directly proportional to my ability to answer the mathematical equation I was asked to tackle. Now imagine this moment - I walk to the board, take the piece of chalk from my teacher's hand, and unwaveringly get to work. All I did was, write the number '1'. The chalk squeaks, the teacher whines, and all my classmates yell in protest. It didn't matter if I knew the answer to the question. The magnificent moment of displaying my knowledge was lost. "Break the chalk into two and use the broken end to write; it will stop squeaking", said my teacher. I did that and got back to work again. The equation that looked the 'vanquished' a few moments ago; was staring at me. The squeaking, the whining, and the protest clouded my mind. I don't recall what happened after that. What I do remember, though, it is my reluctance to write on a blackboard, even as a teacher.

The terms education and technology are by themselves not new to anyone. The blackboard and chalk were first introduced in the classroom in 1801 and found their way into schools. The blackboard centered classroom offered (and perhaps continues to contribute in some places) pedagogical efficiency; it presented itself as a teaching possibility. In a learning environment, the teacher is not the focus but a means through which the lesson is taught and clarified. He/she projects her ideas onto the blank surface/blackboard, which is the surface of thought. Perhaps in more ways than one, the blackboard was the first technology that teachers worked with. Today,  the blackboard and chalk have been replaced; and it is not just by the whiteboard and marker pens. The meaning and scope of educational technology have grown by leaps and bounds. Within the ambit of educational technology, as educators, our knowledge cannot be restricted to using a blackboard/whiteboard. It goes well beyond.

At a bare minimum, a typical classroom involves the use of a laptop/desktop, internet facility, a video conferencing platform, a whiteboard, a headset, and related software. These are essentials now, and there is no going away from them. Walk into one of these classrooms, and we will encounter a situation very similar to the squeaky chalk moment. And I am not referring to issues that arise due to a poor net connection.

As educators, we must know how to plan, organize, deliver, and evaluate content. Also, we need to understand the importance of leveraging the use of technology into our curriculum. Identification and implementation of effective, efficient, appropriate, and relevant technology are critical to a learning environment's success.  In essence, the importance and relevance of the competency 'Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge' are unquestionable. The need to address this competency and weaving it into the competency framework of educators is immediate.

Lee Shulman in 1986 [1]  proposed several critical elements of pedagogical content knowledge. He defined 'Pedagogical Content Knowledge' as a unique combination of CONTENT and PEDAGOGY and presented it to demonstrate the educator's professional knowledge and understanding. He maintained that an educator must understand the 'education context' and the knowledge of the purpose of education.

Punya Mishra and Mathew J Koehler in 2006[2] included technological knowledge as part of Lee Shulman's framework and presented the TPACK framework. They elaborated on the framework by defining Content, Pedagogy, and Technology and its learning.

Content Knowledge: Describes the teachers' knowledge of the subject matter, which includes concepts, theories, evidence, and organizational frameworks within a subject matter.

Pedagogical Knowledge: Describes the teachers' knowledge of the practices, processes, methods regarding teaching and learning.

Technological knowledge: This describes the teacher's understanding of and ability to use various technologies, technical tools, and associated resources.

Technological Content Knowledge is displayed by the educator when he /she recognizes how technology and content can influence and restrain each other. A subject matter can be communicated with the help of ed-tech resources; however, the educator needs to consider which resources are best suited for the subject matter.

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge is demonstrated with the teachers' understanding of how specific technologies can impact the teaching and learning experiences.

TPACK is the combination of the three essential areas of content, pedagogy, and technology. Educators today must be hired and assessed on these three principles. In essence, it means that as an educator, I need to accept the fact that

  • "Concepts from the content can be taught and represented using technology,
  • Pedagogical techniques can communicate content in different ways using technology,
  • Different content concepts require different skill levels from students, and ed-tech can help address some of these requirements.
  • students come into the classroom with different backgrounds – including prior educational experience and exposure to technology – and lessons utilizing ed-tech should account for this possibility,
  • educational technology can be used in tandem with students' existing knowledge, helping them either strengthen prior epistemologies or develop new ones."[3]

The TPACK framework is a framework that we can start with, to assess ourselves as educators. Professional learning of educators is an ongoing process of knowledge development and skill-building. TPACK is a starting point to ensure that we equip ourselves to deal with modern-day squeaky chalk.




1. Shulman, L.S. “Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching,” Educational Researcher (1986). 15 (2), 4-14.
Shulman, L.S. “Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform,” Harvard Educational Review (1987). 57, 1-22.

2. Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teachers’ knowledge.
Teachers College Record, 108 (6),    1017–1054

3. Kurt, S. "TPACK: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework," in Educational Technology, May 12, 2018.

About the Author

Dr Anuradha Rao comes with of 29 years of experience Education, Learning & Development. She has been associated with MNCs (GECIS, IBM, Mphasis, Genpact, and Deutsche Bank), and with educational institutions in various leadership positions. As an entrepreneur, she has worked with family run organisations, as a Leadership Coach and has helped them set up their HR policies and processes.

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