Lee, J. K., & Hicks, D. (2006). Editorial: Discourse on technology in social education. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 6(4). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol6/iss4/socialstudies/article1.cfm
Editorial: Discourse on Technology in Social Education
John K. Lee, Editor
North Carolina State University
David Hicks, Editor
Research and Scholarship in Technology and Social Studies
Research and scholarship in social studies and technology has taken two basic
forms over the past decade and a half. Early scholarship on social studies and
technology focused on theoretical arguments about how to integrate technology
into social studies practice. This first wave of scholarship tended to tout
the potential of technology to transform social studies teaching and learning.
Accompanying these uplifting and theoretical works were descriptive accounts
of how technology could be or was being used in the social studies. Seminal
works in this wave of scholarship by researchers such as Diem (1983), Ehman
and Glen (1991), Berson (1996), and Martorella (1997) laid a theoretical base
of research on technology and social studies.
A second more empirical strand of scholarship and research on technology and
social studies emerged out of these early theoretical considerations of technology
and social studies. Over the last 6 years this journal has been active in publishing
work in this second area. Although our first publication, “Guidelines
for Using Technology to Prepare Social Studies Teachers” (Mason et al.,
2000) fits within the more theoretical line of scholarship, subsequent publications
have focused almost exclusively on empirical research.
As the field as a whole proceeds into a third decade of sustained scholarship
on digital technology and social studies, conceptualizations and a more fully
formed research agenda appear to be emerging. There is a need to begin to examine
clearly and to detail how technology influences student learning in both K-12
and teacher education settings. This effort will require a sustained focus on
specific technologies used in social studies classrooms. Some of the areas requiring
additional attention within this area include visualization of knowledge, digital
historical thinking, scaffolding in Web environments, children in virtual social
space, technologically enabled collaborative environments, geographic representations,
and graphical simulation. Research in all of these areas must be done in the
contexts of the diversity learners bring to their uses of technology, as well
as considerations of the availability of technology particularly for minority
and disadvantaged groups.
In addition, research is needed to improve social studies educators’
understanding of how the knowledge base and subsequent activities of teachers
with regard to using digital technologies in social studies classrooms develop.
Again, work is just beginning in this area, as researchers start to operationalize
and unpack the concept of technological pedagogical content knowledge (Mishra,
& Koehler, 2006). Research in these areas is developing but not without
the typical problems associated with scholarship in education, including the
difficulty of maintaining dense collaborative networks between researchers,
the continued existence of balkanized and disassociated efforts of individual
educational and social science researchers within and across academic institutions,
and the subsequent slow turnaround of educational research in academic journals
(see Burbules & Bruce, 1995; Deem, 1996; Donmoyer, 1996; Tuire & Erno,
Expanding Our Emerging Knowledge Through Discourse
One way to foster more dense and collaborative networks of educational researchers
is to encourage discourse about research process and outcomes. Discourse should
be a vital part of the social studies research experience. Whether the experiences
are formalized in the classroom or are part of our everyday life, the serious
conversations we have about topics, events, and issues relative to our social
lives frame our scholarly life. Engaging in such dialogues and with various
narratives provides a space for new meanings and understanding to emerge. Participating
in such activities requires us to be “conscious of how we come to our
knowledge and as conscious as we can be about the values that lead us to our
perspectives. It asks we be accountable for how and what we know. But it does
not insist that there is only one way of constructing meaning, or one right
way” (Bruner, 1990, p. 30).
Discourse is vital to any emerging field, and technology can facilitate vibrant
and meaningful talk about the structure and substance of emerging research ideas.
The reality of scholarly work is that many scholars do not engage in active
and meaningful discourse about scholarship outside of the closed communities
of their classes and conferences. Both of these environments are ultimately
limited and not necessarily suited to the systematic, sophisticated, and scholarly
development of new knowledge. Although discussions in the halls at our national
conferences can be meaningful, it is often hard to reconnect in meaningful ongoing
ways when faced with the limitations of time and space.
We need to stretch our discourse outside the bounds of singular research agendas.
Such rationalizations are important because we are trying to compel people to
act in a mostly unnatural way. By unnatural we mean that social studies, despite
its subject matter, is a field that does little in the way of extensive collaborative
scholarship. Other scholarly areas have extended their scholarship in meaningful
ways through technologically enabled collaborative environments. The Carnegie
Foundation’s efforts at a Scholarship of Teaching discourse have been
facilitated through resources such as the Visible Knowledge Project (https://www.georgetown.edu/crossroads/vkp/index.htm).
Closer to social studies, the discipline of history has opened new forums for
discourse through projects such as History Now (http://www.historynow.org/)
and the History News Network (http://hnn.us/).
A Call for Discourse
Over the last 7 years, CITE Journal - Social Studies has published
26 research or scholarly articles and five research commentaries. The commentaries
have focused specifically on concurrently or previously published articles.
Commentaries have served the purpose of advancing dialogue and discourse around
the central findings or claims of published CITE Journal - Social Studies
articles. In an effort to extend the scholarly discourse initiated with
these commentaries and, in more practical terms, to facilitate needed discourse
on particular themes, we have created an online environment for discourse on
specific journal-related topics. This online resource will host discourse on
specific topics emerging from CITE Journal - Social Studies articles,
as well as general topics in the areas of social studies and technology research
and scholarship. An initial discussion will focus on a revisiting of the first
publication in CITE Journal - Social Studies, “Guidelines for
Using Technology to Prepare Social Studies Teachers” (Mason et al., 2000),
given subsequent research findings in related fields. Additional discourse might
relate to a host of topical areas, including some of the following.
- The impact and implementation of state and national standards and guidelines
related to technology use in social studies.
- Evidence of the impact of technology on student learning and student attitudes,
including teacher education-related program reviews, specific research agenda,
- Examples of wise practice and specific examples of technology use from the
- The impact technology integration on teaching, both in-service and preservice,
including discussions of case studies and descriptive work.
- Innovative uses of digital technologies in social studies.
- The conceptual idea of a shared space for research and collaborative work.
The Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) –
publisher of CITE Journal - Social Studies – has established
an initial Web site for discourse on technology and teacher education related
topics at http://www.SITEblog.org. SITEblog
exists to “promote dialog and interaction among SITE members as well as
non-members about a variety of issues relating to our mission.” An opening
CITE Journal - Social Studies strand is on the SITEblog and open to
all readers. We hope our efforts to facilitate talk about research in social
studies and technology will provide new understandings about how knowledge is
created around scholarly activities. We plan to report periodically about our
process and invite all interested readers to join us in our exploration.
Berson, M. (1996). Effectiveness of computer technology in the social studies:
A review of the literature. Journal of Research on Computing in Education,
Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge: MA, Harvard University
Burbules, N., & Bruce, B. (1995). This is not a paper. Educational
Researcher, 24(8), 12-18.
Deem, R. (1996). The future of educational research in the context of the
social sciences: A special case? The British Journal of Educational Studies
Diem, R. (1983). Technology and the social studies: Issues and responsibilities.
Social Education, 47(5), 308-310, 313.
Donmoyer, R. (1996). Editorial: Educational research in an era of paradigm
proliferation. What’s a journal editor to do? Educational Researcher,
Ehman L., & Glenn, A. D. (1991). Interactive technology in the social studies.
In J.P. Shaver (Ed.), Handbook of research on social studies teaching and
learning (pp. 513-522). New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.
Martorella, P. H. (1997). Technology and social studies or: Which way to the
sleeping giant? Theory and Research in Social Education, 25(4), 511-514.
Mason, C., Berson, M., Diem, R., Hicks, D., Lee, J., & Dralle, T.(2000).
Guidelines for using technology to prepare social studies teachers. Contemporary
Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 1(1). Retrieved November 15,
2006, from http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentissues/socialstudies/article1.htm
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content
knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record,
Tuire, P., & Erno, L. (2001) Exploring invisible scientific communities:
Studying networking relationships within an educational research community.
A Finnish case. Higher Education, 42(4), 493-513.