This issue of CITE Journal is unique in that it also moves beyond mere descriptions of tools and their affordances to discuss the role of emerging technologies (see also Mouza & Lavigne, 2012) in transforming education, learning and civic participation.
English/Language Arts Education
A model of connected teaching is needed to complement the model of connected learning. This special issue of Contemporary Issues in English Language Arts Teacher Education shares some innovative strategies teacher educators are using to prepare teachers to become connected educators. Each of the articles in this issue engages with the connected learning perspective of technology and education by focusing on an expansive ecology of learning and positioning tools as valuable insofar as they contribute to that ecology.
To better understand the impacts of participatory design in English language arts teacher education, this critical case study focuses on the National Writing Project’s Connected Learning Massive, Open, Online Collaboration (CLMOOC) that engaged educators in playing with the connected learning framework. The authors draw from 5 years of interaction data to question “open” as a fixed point of reference in the design of participatory, online learning communities. Through three rounds of remix inquiry, the authors argue that open as a design ideology is necessary but not sufficient in providing conditions for transformative professional learning. The analysis reveals a subtle shift from facilitative practices such as inviting for diversified participation and affirming for reciprocal engagement intended to elicit fuller open participation to those such as coaching toward imperfection and curating relational infrastructures that are grounded in an infrastructuring strategy that is intentionally fragmentary and incomplete. The findings illustrate facilitative practices that engage educators in dynamic connection – making in online professional learning, and prompt the field to critically consider the fallacies of open learning design.
Authentic field experiences are an important aspect of most teacher education programs, yet collaboration often is difficult because of distance and limited resources. This collective case study aimed to explore the experiences of 30 ninth-grade English language arts (ELA) students and 17 preservice English education teachers as they collaborated in a digital Third Space on activities designed with Connected Learning (CL) principles. Through the free, online tool Slack (www.slack.com), the participants cocreated video remixes and built connections without actually meeting face to face. The study aimed to assess if digital Third Spaces constructed with CL principles could provide an authentic field experience, potentially offering a chance to improve preservice ELA teachers’ self-efficacy with teaching digital literacies and offer high school students an opportunity to experiment with multimodal composition. Instruction was designed with CL principles and used digital tools to help forge human connection. The findings suggest that digital Third Spaces and online collaborative networks can serve as viable sites for authentic field experiences when face-to-face partnerships are difficult. However, they also suggest a need for ELA teacher educators to work with their preservice teachers to develop strategic ways to use digital environments to build genuine relationships.
This article is a commentary essay that uses the connected learning framework (Ito et al., 2013) as a lens to explore the relationship between making, coding, and critical literacy in the context of literacy teacher education. Critical literacy theorists have argued that it is important to understand the perspective and positionality of an author in order to make sense of a text in the context of history, society, and cultural norms (Alvermann, Moon, & Hagood, 1999; Gee, 1999; Jewitt, 2008). Likewise, software, written by coders, is also a form of media that requires interrogation and critical analysis. Increasingly, digital technologies have played a part in individuals’ social, political, and economic lives, yet only a small percentage of individuals can read the code that has designed this software (Rushkoff, 2010). Therefore, to foster greater civic literacy and engagement, an important aspect of literacy instruction in the digital era should include a basic understanding of the fundamentals of coding languages. However, few teacher educators have the knowledge of computer programming to integrate coding into literacy education courses and, therefore, this aspect is missing from much of current teacher education.
As the definition of literacy in the 21st century expands beyond print texts to include digital texts, media objects, images, sounds and social practices, what it means to be an English teacher in secondary schools also is shifting and growing in complexity. While there are many resources for integrating technology in the classroom, there remain few studies focused on how teachers are making choices related to technology use. This case study compares the ways in which two teachers make specific choices in relation to technology in their early careers as secondary English teachers. In doing so, the focal teachers are positioned as active agents (Lasky, 2005) in their professional development, from preservice to their early career classrooms, using technology strategically as a resource to within two distinct social settings: the preservice classroom where they are students, and the secondary classroom, where they are teachers.
Connected learning is “an emerging, synthetic model of learning whose principles are consistent with those of positive youth development, sociocultural learning theory, and findings from ethnographic studies of young people’s interest-related interactions with digital media” (Maul et al., 2017, p. 2). It seeks to harness new media technologies and human networks to support interest-driven, production-centered learning that bridges in- and out-of-school and intergenerational disconnects. As such, “it is a fundamentally different mode of learning than education centered on fixed subjects, one-to-many instruction, and standardized testing…” (Connected Learning Alliance, n.d.). The connected learning model has spread rapidly and widely; it has been taken up in the design of programs, courses, and research across interdisciplinary, international, and in- and out-of-school contexts. The goal for this annotated bibliography is to provide an overview of connected learning theory and research that is most relevant to teaching and learning in K-16+ school settings, which can serve as a resource for those interested in connected learning practice and outcomes.
This article describes lessons learned from an applied literacy course in which preservice teachers partnered with a local middle school to teach literacy actively through podcast and digital graphic novel creation. Future teachers need equity-focused, production-centered, interest-driven connected learning (Ito et al., 2013) and connected teaching opportunities (Mirra, 2017) that provide deliberate, scaffolded social support as they continually shape or reshape perceptions of self and other.
A student, Stuart, related perimeter to pixels and the professor, Beth, moved back and forth between reserved believing and reserved doubting and doubting teacher actions (Elbow, 1986; Harkness & Noblitt, 2017) while assessing the merit of his conjecture in the moment. Video allowed the researchers to rewatch the episode multiple times after the moment and to attempt to believe (Elbow, 1986; 2006), or find merit or strength, in Stuart’s conjecture and then explore the mathematics that he suggested. Within this paper the researchers “restory” (Creswell, 2012) chronologically what transpired in the moment in the classroom, their later conversations, and their after-the-moment mathematical explorations of Stuart’s conjecture. Video can, perhaps, allow teacher educators to help preservice teachers and classroom teachers notice and reflect on missed opportunities for believing. Video also has the potential to empower teachers to explore the mathematics suggested by students after the moment and then use what they learn in future lessons.
Technology cannot be effective in the classroom without teachers who are knowledgeable about both the technology itself and its implementation to meet educational goals. While technology use in the classroom is increasing, improving learning through its application should remain the goal. In this study, the authors explored 74 middle school teachers’ beliefs about and use of technology through a technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) lens. They sought to understand how middle school teachers use and perceive technology in practice and the factors influencing their pedagogical decisions to incorporate technology into their practice. Data included surveys, administered after a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach program and teacher interviews. Findings revealed that both internal and external barriers were present and influenced how teachers situated their pedagogy in terms of technology integration. It was also found that teachers were confident in content, pedagogy, and technology; however, most viewed technology as a tool rather than an embedded part of the learning process. This study contributes knowledge about professional development initiatives and the need to address not technology knowledge as much as the interdependence of technology, pedagogy, and subject content matter.
Social Studies Education
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.
This qualitative case study addresses the need for pedagogical approaches to working with open educational resources (OER). Drawing on a mix of historical thinking heuristics and case analysis approaches, a blended pedagogical strategy and primary source database were designed to build student understanding of historical records with transfer of knowledge to related, contemporary problems. Thirty-seven graduate students tested the five-step strategy as they worked with historical OER on the topic of public health among slaves on 19th-century American plantations. Findings demonstrate the pedagogical strategy supported pattern identification and model building among all students and, for most students, the ability to transfer and use their understanding to inform new problems. Students expanded their understanding of 19th-century plantation life and factors impacting public health. Recommended adjustments to the strategy include added support for content curation, collaborative argument building, and discussion.
As part of their graduate education, in-service teachers identified an area of instructional focus, video recorded their classroom instruction at two intervals in a semester-long course, formed peer groups, and shared their videos for the purpose of obtaining feedback for professional growth. After the conclusion of the course, participants were contacted and presented with a summary of four benefits of the peer video review process, as identified in a recent professional article. Through online survey, participants were asked to share their perceptions of the peer video review experiences in the course and address any evidence related to the benefits raised in the professional article. Qualitative analysis revealed evidence of individual and collective benefits at personal and professional levels and consensus around the value of the experience, despite common apprehension about the vulnerability involved in sharing. Additionally, participants identified strengths of the video medium and provided suggestions for practical applications of peer video review in the field.
This qualitative case study was framed by an experiential learning approach organized around video resources and linguistically and culturally responsive content teaching. The study explored an overarching research question: How did teacher-learners in a grant project interact with a multimedia learning platform that combined teaching video and VoiceThread presentation, called VT project, designed to enhance their linguistically and culturally responsive content teaching (LCRCT) for English learners (ELs)? Data included participants’ VT projects, online and face-to-face class discussions, survey results, and final reflective papers in two TESOL courses as part of a National Professional Development grant program in a Midwestern University. Analyses demonstrated that the technology-assisted course design generally promoted a critical habit of mind among teacher-learners through opportunities to attentively notice and critically reflect on one’s own and others’ teaching practices. Teacher-learners demonstrated a shared ownership over their teaching processes while establishing a reflective discourse community, where the LCRCT framework guided their learning and practices of LCRCT for ELs. Study implications include ways for the teacher-learners to transfer their learning from this reflective multimedia-supported TESOL program into their classrooms, schools, and districts, as well as the challenges. The research was conducted by the three instructors who designed and implemented the course.
This paper examines adaptation processes a group of Maltese teachers employed to contextualize tablet PC use in formal educational contexts. Research in information systems stipulates that while time may play an important role in technology, timing for accommodation and adaptation still represents a gray area that requires more attention. Nascent data indicates that over a relatively short period of time, intense but voluntary exposure to tablet PCs triggered attitudinal adjustment processes that catered for accommodation and adaptation toward the technology. The sharing of experiences, technology mediations, and recursive and contextualized dialogues between players seem to have been important in accelerating sense-making adaptation processes, consolidating newly formed technological interpretations.