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Information Technology, Constructivism, and Social Studies Teacher Education

, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, United States ; , Virginia Tech, United States ; , Georgia State University, United States

Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


Many social studies educators have argued that preparing students for the responsibility of the office of citizen, in terms of developing the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary for informed deliberation, active decision making and civic participation, is in fact the perfect place to let students learn to critically explore their world through the use of such interactive technologies as the Internet. A key assumption of this proposed use of technology is that having access to up-to-date knowledge resources, archives, and experts via information technology can improve teaching and learning within the social studies. However, in spite of its promise and potential, the literature suggests that very little development, and implementation of technology has taken place within social studies preservice and inservice classrooms. The danger of such a situation continuing, Fontana warns, may well be that, "others who know nothing of the discipline will shape these important networking tools without the needs of the social studies in mind. If social studies educators fail to be at the forefront of technology, they risk having parents and policy makers conclude that the social studies are not relevant in the information age." However as Means and Olsen note, efforts to introduce technology into schools as a whole have struggled because they were founded upon the "wrong model of teaching with technology." The problem they contend was that "product developers believed in their content knowledge, pedagogical techniques, and in the power of technology to transmit knowledge to students" instead of providing the types of technologies that support "students and teachers in obtaining, organizing, manipulating and displaying information." With this in mind, the question that must be addressed by social studies educators in the information age is how can we prepare social studies teachers to best implement current and emerging technologies within our classrooms? The process of answering such an important question, we believe, must begin with the development of a clearly defined theoretical foundation designed to inform our understanding of why and how the incorporation of technologies can move us toward the National Council for Social Studies' (NCSS) vision of powerful social studies teaching and learning. It is disconcerting that despite support for integrating technology; the application of technology within the realm of social studies is theoretically underdeveloped. Even the most recent research that has advocated the use of a constructivist theoretical perspective to undergird the use of technology in the social studies classroom has not fully developed a clear framework of principles that support the integration of technology into the social studies. The purpose of this paper is to provide such a practical constructivist framework of principles, along with specific examples of how the application of technology, and in particular the Internet, can be used as a developmental tool to facilitate inquiry, perspective taking, deliberation, and knowledge construction in the education of young citizens. The paper will argue that if technology is to have a powerful impact on the teaching and learning of social studies then "the ways that we use technologies in schools should change, from their traditional roles of technology-as-teacher to technology-as-partner in the learning process." The key to achieving powerful teaching and learning in social studies, therefore, is not technology itself, but rather how technology is used as a tool to encourage the doing of social studies in the pursuit of citizenship. Such efforts must be grounded in theory; otherwise, the results will be little more than a collection of disparate individual efforts that do little to truly advance social studies programs toward the NCSS's vision of powerful teaching and learning. The challenge in preparing social studies teachers to use technology must begin with identifying why and how technology can be used to facilitate the creation of meaningful and disciplined knowledge within each student, and not to serve as a substitute for knowledge creation or for traditional classroom "teacher talk." The theoretical foundation for the integration of technology into the social studies emphasizes that the proper role for technology in the social studies is that of "technology-as-partner." Grounding one's actions within and through such a theoretical framework, we contend, is a vital first, and much needed step in the process of developing and preparing social studies teachers who know why and how to use technology to transform their classrooms into a model based on authentic student inquiry and experiences.


Hicks, D., Doolittle, P. & Lee, J. (2002). Information Technology, Constructivism, and Social Studies Teacher Education. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2185-2186). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved June 13, 2021 from .


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