Guidelines for Using Technology to Prepare Social Studies Teachers

May. 01, 2014

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 14(4), p. 433-450.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors reflect upon, revisit, and rethink the original guidelines for using digital technologies to prepare social studies teachers in an effort to facilitate theoretical and practical discussions that may serve as a foundation from which to approach the preparation and development of social studies teachers over the next few years.
In this revisiting of the 2000 guidelines they seek to accomplish two goals.
First, they want to offer a rebalancing that takes into account the theorizing and empirical research that has occurred over the last 15 years.
Second, they aim to situate the guidelines in a relevant and current context.


The authors revisit the guidelines for using digital technologies in light of current scholarship and current contexts.
The first principle focused on extending learning beyond what could be done without technology and suggested that emerging technologies should prompt new opportunities in teaching and learning.
In revisiting this principle, they recognized that as technologies have matured and other technologies have emerged, these technologies, in and of themselves, are not necessarily prompting new or transformative learning opportunities.
They have modified this first principle to focus more directly on the importance of preparing teachers to use technologies in meaningful and appropriate ways to promote effective student learning.
They argued that teachers and their students also need to learn how to judge the quality and utility of information garnered from online databases and digital libraries as well as archives and libraries.
Knowing and learning to know requires preparing teachers and their students to judge the quality and utility of sources, to learn to reflect on what to hold onto and what to let go of in light of the questions being investigated.
Technology alone does not make such learning possible.

The second guideline focused on two overlapping contexts operating.
One is a metacontext that envelopes all aspects of a beginning teacher’s life—the public and private, the academic and professional.
Teacher educators must help beginning teachers traverse the boundary between their personal uses of technology and the professional applications they will make as educators. The second context is encapsulated by TPACK.
It’s a theoretical space where teachers reason about how best to use technology in their instruction.
Teachers have to learn the dynamic tensions around the decisions they make to use technology.
Any decision to use a technology is pedagogical in nature and will both reflect and impact how content is engaged in the classroom.
Teacher educators need to be explicit about how to use technology in the classroom.

The third guideline argued that teacher educators must explore with preservice teachers how digital technologies shape and are shaped by education and examine the deeper theoretical and pragmatic understanding of the core purpose of social studies to prepare civic life.
Thus, it becomes necessary to develop a historical view of the ways digital technologies, in both formal and informal settings and across different groups, are evolving, specifically, the Internet and associated Web 2.0 tools, and the implications of our continuing desire to use technologies for purposes that are intrinsic to social studies and citizenship.

Finally, the authors argue that in developing the 1999 guidelines they recognized that research and evaluation around social studies and digital technologies was clearly in its adolescence.
The contextually and methodologically aware research of social studies teacher educators and researchers must now, more than ever, mature and pay closer and more attention to the importance of facilitating student learning and deep processing across the disciplines that make up the social studies.


The focus 15 years ago was on the Internet and the materials accessible online.
Since then the authors have seen the emergence of more advanced technologies, such as Wi-Fi (wireless) and Web 2.0 technologies, the rise of course management systems, the ongoing investment in instructional technology infrastructure, and the introduction of interactive whiteboards alongside personal response systems.
All of these developments have played into the concept of 21st-century classrooms.
As a result, they see great value in supporting teachers to develop the critically aware dispositions that enable them to be ready, willing, and able to identify and engage with online professional learning sites while also reaching for innovations afforded by digital technologies to meet their immediate instructional needs.
All of these innovations move students toward different ways of producing knowledge and examining perspectives.

Updated: Dec. 06, 2015