This study sought to develop an understanding of current practices by professionals in the field to best prepare future social studies educators in the usage of technology. A quantitative investigation examined the usage and perceptions of educational technology by 398 grades 6–12 social studies teachers from across a Mid-Atlantic state. A researcher-designed survey instrument explored teacher adoption of technology, sources of acquired skills, usage frequencies, perceived effectiveness, and barriers to integration. The study revealed personal trial and error as the most likely way to acquire new knowledge. Document creation applications such as Google Docs were the most commonly used Internet-based technology and were perceived as most effective. By better understanding educators’ use of technology in the field, teacher preparation programs may design more effective curricula. It is recommended that future research be conducted on a multistate basis to investigate technology integration in social studies classrooms at each grade level to best prepare future teachers for when they have a classroom of their own.
Blended learning has grown rapidly in K-12 schools and is commonly seen as a potential vehicle to make learning more student centered by providing students with some level of control over their learning pace and path. As a result, blended learning is most likely to have a transformative effect when it is paired with constructivist learning strategies, such as guided inquiry, that emphasize student choice. In the research described in this paper, the authors examined one school district’s year-long professional development efforts to prepare social studies teachers and school librarians to design and facilitate blended learning units. They conducted 11 interviews with six participants and two focus groups with seven participants. Based on their analysis of the interview and focus group transcripts, they found that the professional development was effective at improving participants’ blended teaching knowledge, skills, and perceptions. Participants valued the facilitators’ feedback and modeling. They also found their interactions and collaborations with other participants to be valuable when attempting to apply their learning to their classrooms. Actually facilitating units with their own students resulted in the largest impact on their perceptions of blended learning.
This study employs Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980, 1999) conception of metaphor as rooted in embodied experiences to investigate educational technology discourse in the social studies. The last 3 years of scholarship in the social studies section of the journal Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education is examined for the presence of metaphors used by authors to justify or support their arguments. Five prominent categories of metaphor were identified within the discourse: Manual labor metaphors, construction/building metaphors, mechanistic metaphors, technology as biological life/agent metaphors, and journey metaphors. While it is necessary to use metaphors to understand new phenomena such as digital technologies, results suggest that some of the specific metaphors that were commonly employed may impede a more thoughtful approach to conceptualizing and implementing new technologies. Results also indicate that a deep metaphor of technology as the agent or driver of social progress may underpin a substantial portion of recent scholarship.
Teacher activism is increasingly occurring in online spaces, but the implications for educators are unclear. The authors use the recent Oklahoma Teachers Walkout and the active #OklaEd network to offer an illustrative example of the power and fragility of socially networked teacher movements. They offer eight lessons educators may take from the #OklaEd network and the walkout.