Technology Integration: Social Studies Technology and Learning

Social studies teachers are viewed as even further behind than teachers of other disciplines in the area of teaching with technologies. As much of the literature is focused on helping teachers integrate technology in the schools, the two articles below look into technology integration from a professional development point of view. Changing the teacher’s awareness and confidence in technologies were methods the researchers used to help these teachers with technology in the classroom.

Article I
In the article, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) in Action: A Descriptive Study of Secondary Teachers’ Curriculum-Based, Technology-Related Instructional Planning, the authors interviewed seasoned teachers with a goal to discover how TPACK is applied in instructional planning while focusing on content in technology integration. The professional development was developed around several, specific learning activities in social studies from which the teachers could choose. Content activities was chosen over learning activities. “Because teachers’ planning is conceptualized around content goals and organized according to learning activities, technology integration methods should be similarly focused” (Harris & Hoffer, 2011, p. 214). In fact, before and after the workshop the teachers planned their activities according to content. The teachers also chose activities according to estimated time in the classroom for the activities as well as on standards the activity matched. These teachers felt technology was a way to increase content and saw the use of the tools as a means for them to do a better job of teaching the content rather than using a new learning theory.

With this in mind, the teachers still found new technologies from which to choose and became aware of better ways for technology integration and became more conscious of a broader range of activities using technology. The authors note that content activities are not a way to “revolutionize” teaching via technology, but can still be effective for student learning. The study found that the more the teachers know, the more they will use technology in their curriculum, noting that “Many educators are simply not aware of the full range of different curriculum-based learning activities, projects, and approaches that they can use with the help of different educational technologies.” (Harris & Hoffer, 2011, p. 227).

Article II
Again focusing on experienced teachers, the authors of the article, Social Studies Instruction: Changing Teacher Confidence in Classrooms Enhanced by Technology, interviewed seasoned teachers before and after a three part workshop for grades K-12 on using technology in the social studies classroom. As in other literature, it is noted that “adoption is not just about convincing them of the advantages of a technology. It must also be about training, education, and encouraging faculty to have the necessary skills and confidence in the uses of educational technologies” (Shriner, Clark, Nail, Schlee, & Libler, 2010, p. 38). Therefore, the workshop focused on three specific workshops: 1) virtual field trips, 2) using various resources and approaches for social studies instruction, 3) and using resources and approaches for geography and the history of the world.

As a result of the workshops, participants were more confident in their ability to incorporate technology into meaningful lesson plans and felt more confident in making connections between the textbook, the student, and the content. The authors note that the teachers go to the workshops to expand their knowledge and skills. Although the teachers previously had the ability to use various web technologies, without the practice the workshop afforded, they would not have known how to begin. After the workshop, the teachers changed their perceptions and their confidence to use the technologies in the classroom.

Summary
Both of the articles, above, were research articles on short, activity based, professional development for experienced social studies teachers. Although the first article focused on instructional planning and the other article focused on beliefs, the authors from both articles were encouraged with the results of the workshops. (The TPACK article called for more research, however.) Teachers understood that technology was a tool, not a end result yet were excited about learning how the tool could help them in their classrooms. It is interesting that both studies had specific activities planned but the teachers in both articles were able to expand on these activities. And in each case, the authors believed that the teachers in the studies would use technologies for teaching and learning.

Reference
Harris, J. B., & Hofer, M. J. (2011). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) in action: A descriptive study of secondary teachers’ curriculum-based, technology-related instructional planning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(3), 211–229.
Shriner, M., Clark, D. A., Nail, M., Schlee, B. M., & Libler, R. (2010). Social studies instruction : Changing teacher confidence in classrooms enhanced by technology. The Social Studies, 101, 37-45. doi:10.1080/00377990903283999

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