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Teaching Social Studies using Technology
Intro To Teaching
The focus on technology in education mandates that teachers become computer literate. Recent developments in computer hardware, software and communications technologies create exciting new opportunities for the educational use of these technologies. The usability of technology has put a spin on education and reshaping classroom learning experience. Research investigating the effectiveness of technology assisted instruction suggests that integrating technology into the classroom creates a rich effective and efficient learning environment which improves student performance and learning. Ivers (2009 pg 42). Also Ivers (2009 pg 47) argued that technology can play several very different roles in the classroom especially creating materials and process that attracts students to spend more time to their studies.
Technology opens the door to learning social studies skills and content in ways impossible in the traditional classroom. The social studies teacher in today's classroom can use technology to extend learning opportunities for K-12 students. Teacher education faculty can most effectively take full advantage of technology by introducing students to activities in which skills and content are taught more actively and meaningfully. We caution, however, against using technology for technology's sake, and encourage faculty and pre-service teachers to consider if the technology is allowing them to learn in a way they could not without the technology or if they are at least learning in a more meaningful way
Research suggests that technology can be used by teachers to enhance their teaching. (Frei, Gammill Irons 2007 pg 131) identified five specific ways in which teachers can effectively employ technological activities into their teaching. They suggested that technology can be used in covering lectures to multimedia presentations web enhanced courses, drill and practice software, digital store telling and web quest these uses have been shown to engage students to learn basic skills and to develop thinking skills. This can also be applied to teaching social studies to students. According to Sharp (2008 Pg27) technology and its impact on teaching social studies are affective in three ways.
First web quest which are equality based activities in which groups of students interact with knowledge acquired from resources on the internet this can greatly aid students in writing project papers on historical issue.
Secondly students can use digital portfolios which are creative ways of organizing and sharing collections of their work and ideas.
Thirdly history teachers can use E-pals global communications websites that allow students to correspond with other students.
The challenge in preparing social studies teachers to use technology begins by highlighting how technology can be used to encourage inquiry, perspective taking, and meaning making and thus facilitate "civic learning, deliberation, and action" (Ivers, p. 50). This begins with demonstrating the power of technology to support specific social studies activities and projects that together center on the development of children's personal knowledge of the subject and abilities Providing such examples of what is possible when teachers within their social studies classrooms utilize emerging technologies is a vital first step in preparing teachers to fulfill the mission of the social studies.
If technology is truly to impact both educational competence, as well as increase content knowledge in the social studies, the apex of the instructional delivery system the instructor must be the continual focus of these beliefs. As such, both professional development and research efforts must be at the forefront of infusing these principles, if instructional efforts involving technology and the social studies are to truly reform classrooms.
Using technology successfully requires a constant and consistent training program. This should begin as part of a pre-service training program and continue throughout a teacher's instructional career. This is no longer a luxury but a necessity. A rule of thumb among those working with hardware and software systems is "In six months—no matter what system you have—its obsolete." Put another way, the technology classes and training provided students at the undergraduate pre-service level may not be applicable by the time they graduate and take their first teaching position.
As equally as important as training is the need for more research centering on the effects of technology in social studies classrooms to date, there are no longitudinal studies at the elementary, middle, high school, or postsecondary environments by which to judge the effectiveness of technology on either student or instructional performance in the social studies. Much of the data are short term, single concept research analyses. There are no metacognitive studies involving technology and social studies as there are in mathematics, reading, and science. The challenge then, over the next decade, will be to provide quality training to all social studies educators that incorporate the principles noted, here while gaining insight into the effectiveness of the medium and the message through research. Both parts of this balancing act are key.
In conclusion with a constantly changing technological environment teachers will need to review their teaching practices and use professional development funds and programs to explore possibilities for improving their teaching with technologies. Equally as important is the need for more research centering on the effect of technology in the social studies classroom.
Frei Shelly, Gammill Amy, Irons Sally Integrating Technology Into the Curriculum (Professional Development for Successful Classrooms) Shell Education (January 2, 2007
Ivers Karen S. A Teacher's Guide to Using Technology in the Classroom Libraries Unlimited; 2 edition (February 28, 2009)
Sharp Vicki. Computer Education for Teachers: Integrating Technology into Classroom Teaching Wiley; 6 edition (November 3, 2008)