This paper responds to the recent call for technoskeptical or critical studies of educational technology in the classroom. The authors intentionally push against more established theoretical frameworks used in the field of teaching with technology by testing Latour’s Sociology of Translation or Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) to shift the gaze away from solely knowledge-based or dispositional accounts of teachers’ use of digital technologies within the social studies. When used alongside qualitative methods, ANT sensibilities open up an analytical middle ground between sociocultural and sociomaterial perspectives to help illuminate new perspectives regarding how certain forms of digital technologies are favored over other technologies by social studies preservice teachers within the contexts of their internship classrooms over time and space.
Elementary pre- and in-service educators increasingly rely on online instructional resources to supplement their curriculum. As social studies instruction has received progressively less attention in elementary classrooms, prospective teachers have fewer opportunities to observe powerful and purposeful elementary social studies pedagogy. To develop critical analysis of instructional resources found on for-profit marketplaces like Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers, students in a Midwestern teacher preparation program completed an assignment that required them to analyze online resources with a critical media literacy tool. In this qualitative study the authors conducted a content analysis of 10 of these assignments, all related to Martin Luther King, Jr., Black History Month, and the Civil Rights Movement. Through cycles of coding, the authors identified resources with problematic historical narratives, student assumptions about creator expertise and resource credibility, and the challenges of relying on a checklist for critical analysis. While the critical media literacy tool was helpful in directing preservice teachers’ attention toward meaningful social studies content, it was insufficient as assigned. The authors found that the tool failed to deeply contextualize racial platform capitalism and the need for critical race media literacy in assessing lessons about Black history.
In schools and society, technology has often been viewed as a vehicle for social progress. However, the authors argue that technologies are not neutral and neither are the societies to which they are introduced. Social studies teacher educators should, therefore, prepare teachers and teacher candidates to inquire into technologies with an informed skepticism that can confront problems of democracy within and beyond schools. The editors of the journal call for theoretical and empirical scholarship and responses grounded in, or attending to, media ecology and critical theories so the field might consider impacts on schools, society, and democracy.
Social studies teacher educators must confront the new realities of democratic citizenship education in an era dominated by misinformation and fake news. Using the Teacher Education Technology Competencies (TETCs) as a guide, the authors provide a five-part action plan for situating media literacy within social studies teacher education: connecting media literacy with the purposes of social studies education, exploring the history of fake news in United States history, tracing the history of the field of journalism and journalistic ethics, analyzing contemporary examples of fake news, and developing efficacy working with tools and heuristics for detecting fake news and misinformation. Research suggests that a comprehensive multifaceted approach to media literacy can help students develop civic online reasoning, navigate political bias, and participate in online civic activities. In order for preservice teachers to adopt media literacy as part of their teaching practice, social studies teacher educators must improve their own efficacy navigating social media, news media, and other sources of information, while integrating media literacy regularly into teacher education programs.