Teachers' Instructional Choices with Student-Created Digital Documentaries: Case Studies

Jan. 27, 2008

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education; Volume 41, Issue 2; Winter 2008. p. 223-245

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article describes qualitative case studies of two teachers who integrated student-created digital documentaries into their social studies classrooms. To examine the interplay of pedagogy, content, and technology, the authors focused on the teachers' pedagogical aims and sought evidence of the extent to which (if any) those aims were influenced by the integration of technology. Thornton's (2001a) concept of the teacher as curricular gatekeeper and Mishra and Koehler's (2006) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framed the study.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

1. What pedagogical aims are history teachers addressing through the use of student-generated digital documentaries?

2. How are these pedagogical aims reflected in their classroom instruction?

3. In what ways are these pedagogical aims reflected in students' products?

The teachers worked within the constraints of a very detailed mandatory curriculum, taught very similar content, and used the same online digital documentary tool. Despite these similarities, they planned and executed their projects in divergent ways.


This research confirmed Thornton's (2001a) conception of the teacher as curricular-instructional gatekeeper. It also demonstrated the value of TPACK as a framework for discussing teachers' intentions, actions, and outcomes in a technology-rich classroom.
The authors found that the teachers' pedagogical aims, rather than the technology or content, dominated both their planned and enacted curriculum.

Thornton, S. (2001a). Educating the educators: Rethinking subject matter and methods. Theory into Practice, 40(1), 72-79.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Updated: Dec. 31, 2008