The year 2012 marked the 15th anniversary of Peter Martorella’s (1997) short but influential article, “Technology and the Social Studies—or: Which Way to the Sleeping Giant?” The College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies marked its anniversary with a symposium reflecting on the article and its aftermath. In 2014, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Social Studies Teacher Education will publish articles by social studies researchers who describe the evolution of technology integration in the field of the social studies and future research in this area.
Social Studies Education
In his 1997 article “Technology and the Social Studies – or: Which Way to the Sleeping Giant?” Peter Martorella made several predictions regarding technology resources in the social studies. Through a 2014 lens, Martorella’s Internet seems archaic, yet two of his predictions were particularly poignant and have had a significant impact on social studies instruction: the phenomenon of “computer as data gatherer” (p. 513) and a “new generation” of the Internet that would become more interactive (p. 512). This paper highlights the literature in these two areas, beginning with a focus on the vantage point from which Martorella was writing. The paper also describes the learning potential inherent in more recent technological developments, particularly mobile technology devices, and the degree to which they are currently being used in K-12 social studies.
More than 15 years ago, Martorella (1997) asked what has now become a seminal question in the field of social studies and technology; that is, “Which way to the sleeping giant?” (p. 511). He suggested a number of roles that technology can play in the social studies classroom. Although these roles are certainly relevant in 2014, the roles of computer (as well as other digital technology tools and resources) as a means to deeper engagement with content and as a means for students to share their understanding in rich, divergent ways have emerged as two of the more robust opportunities for technology in the social studies. In these 17 years researchers have begun to explore ways in which technology can support disciplined inquiry in the social studies—particularly in terms of engaging students in historical thinking and providing students with opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of social studies skills and concepts through the creation of content. In this piece we trace efforts to engage students in these two learning opportunities for technology in the social studies.
With the increasing ubiquity of new technologies, many claims are being made about their potential to transform tertiary education. In order for this transformation to be realized, however, a range of issues needs to be addressed. Research evidence suggests that motivation is an important consideration for online learners. This paper reports on one aspect of a case study situated within a larger study that investigates the nature of motivation to learn of preservice teachers in an online environment. Using self-determination theory as an analytical framework, the focus here is on the underlying concepts of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The ways in which certain social and contextual factors can foster perceptions of these needs being met are explored. These factors are known to have a supportive effect on learner motivation. Most prominent among these were the relevance of the learning activity, the provision of clear guidelines, and the ongoing support and feedback from the lecturer that was responsive to learners’ needs. Supportive, caring relationships were also important.
Teacher preparation programs have provided blended courses (a combination of online and face-to-face learning) for their students because of their availability and their convenience. Researchers need to understand how teacher educators perceive blended courses when they teach teacher candidates, because teacher preparation programs have different features than other higher education programs have. This qualitative study examined one instructor’s activities and her perceptions of a blended course in a teacher preparation program for one semester. Data included classroom and online observations, weekly interviews after face-to-face classes, and a final interview at the end of the semester. The results indicated that the instructor saw her roles primarily as pedagogical, managerial, social, and technical. The instructor also saw herself taking on additional roles in the blended environment. This study suggests that ongoing support from cohorts and institutions is necessary for instructors who implement new blended approaches.