The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century encouraged vast migration
to American cities. By the 1990s, three out of four Americans lived in
an urban setting. The complexity of modern urban life has heavily
impacted the public school system. These changes, coupled with
technological advances, have created a unique urban environment for
learning. Many writers make notes of the distinguishing features of
urban schools and delineate urban schools as places that operate with
large ineffective bureaucracies, have high levels of diversity, high
population density, profound income disparity, and high levels of
student, teacher, and administrator mobility. At the dawn of the
Internet era, the priority was figuring out how to let more students and
teachers access the world's information. Now the challenge is managing
all that information and users’ behaviors. Because these distinctively
urban traits impact student learning, many researchers argue that
education must address these matters.
This book contains a spectrum of case studies aimed at understanding
technology integration in urban schools. Section 1 is a collection of
cases based on original stories composed by current teachers on issues
relevant to the students, staff, faculty, and administrators in K-12
urban school settings. Topics in these cases include: student
motivation, equipment upkeep, data security, lack of technology, budget
shortfalls, technology funding and fraud, and assistive technology for
students with behavioral and emotional problems.
An ongoing challenge for most urban teachers is finding ways to involve
students in learning activities that promote retention and engagement,
what is usually described as “effective learning.” This challenge has
become even more pronounced as students have adapted to the essential
egocentrism of the mobile communications device.
As most parents of adolescents know all too well, text messaging, video
games, and mobile phones in general play an indispensable role in the
lives of today's K-12 students. Tech savvy youths know what they can do
with technology but may not know the proper limitations of technology.
The speed of technological advances available to American youth has
caught uninformed parents and teachers by surprise.
Section 1 is a collection of cases based on original stories composed by
current and future teachers. Teaching requires preparation that can
respond to the rigorous demands of the contemporary classrooms. The
overall aim of these case studies is to provide a series of easy to read
stories about issues that are considered relevant and important in the
integration of technology in urban schools. The cases discuss topics
relevant to technology abuses, funding, student motivation, professional
development, video game addiction, resource allocation, and cyber
Section 2 contains a number of cases written by teacher educators in
higher education institutes on technology issues relevant to K-12 urban
school settings, training of preservice teachers, and professional
development of inservice teachers. This section presents a collection of
case studies that illustrate preparing teachers to integrate technology
in urban schools from many angles.
Depending upon interest, the readers may decide to focus attention on
Section 1 of the book: a section that explores issues and themes as they
relate to integrating technology, from future and current teachers’
perspectives. Readers who would like an insight into preparing future
teachers will find Section 2 relevant.
An ongoing challenge for most urban teachers is finding ways to involve
students in learning activities that promote retention and engagement,
what is usually described as “active learning”. The first case in
Section 1, “Use of Technology to Motivate Students,” describes how a
middle-school teacher transformed students from being mere visitors “who
only come to the classroom to chat with friends rather than learn any
subject or skills,” into active learners. The introduction of electronic
whiteboards in the mathematics classroom increased student engagement.
However, was the sudden surge in student motivation the result of the
novelty effect? Would the effect soon fade and the school return to the
status quo? These questions and more are addressed in this case study.
In an effort to control paper supplies and budget, the next case
describes how an elementary school initiated a “No/Low Paper Policy and
Equipment Upkeep.” Under this policy, teachers were encouraged to use
the technology available in classrooms instead of worksheets. Teachers
were assigned quotas and pin numbers to discourage excessive paper
usage. Despite the forward thinking attitude of the school, the campus
technology specialist continues to struggle with being heard by campus
and district administration on issues dealing with the purchase and
upkeep of technology.
Two additional case studies address concerns over campus data security.
Schools are allowed to collect public information including names,
e-mail addresses, phone numbers, addresses, types of business, genders,
dates of birth, behavior and assessment records, customer preference
information, and other related personal information. Schools collect,
store, and use the personal information of students and parents, for
defined purposes. Discover how data security is being handled by reading
these case studies.
“The Laptop Tracking Plan” case describes how a school was able to
receive the “Technology for All” grant and issue a large number of
laptop computers to students for use at home. A policy for checking out
the laptops was developed that included a software utility to keep track
of the amount of time students may keep the laptop, the implantation of
antitheft tracking software to minimize loss, the maintenance plan of
the laptops, how they were to be insured, and other information. Later,
the school principal had to devise a new plan so that the laptop
checkout policy would not escalate into damages and possible lawsuits.
Some data security incidents occur at the most unexpected moments and
places. The case of “School Districts Stumble on Data Privacy” depicts
how three school institutes are grappling with the loss of private
information, each through a unique set of circumstances. Pasadena City
Public Schools discovered that it had sold as surplus, several computers
containing the names and Social Security numbers of employees. Stephens
Public Schools learned that personal information about students at one
of its middle schools was lost when a bag containing a thumb drive was
stolen. Woodlands Public Schools accidentally exposed employee personal
data on a public Web site for a short period of time. How should each of
these institutions react?
Lately, the headlines clamor about budget cuts to public education.
Reductions in school funding will only guarantee further declines in the
technology applications of public education in America. In the case,
“Budget Woes,” a small group of technology teachers and campus IT
specialists exchanged ideas about the impacts of the latest round of
budget cuts to their jobs and technology on campus. Issues brought up
include how schools “can do it all cheaper” if more online courses are
added, how dual credits courses that count both for high school
graduation requirements and college credits are becoming popular among
families with reduced tuition budgets, how teachers have to wait for 6-8
years for new computers instead of 4-5, how campus Web sites are
out-dated due to lack of maintenance fees, and how campus instructional
technologists are increasingly spending valuable time and dwindling
resources fixing obsolete computers and equipment.
Many times in the urban schools, computers and learning software are
found in either short supply or simply nonexistent. The case study,
“Lack of Technology in Urban Schools,” compares the learning technology
resources and opportunities accessible to William and Terrance, cousins
who are both in the 4th grade. While William attended a school located
in the middle-class suburb, Terrance attended an inner-city public
school in the same metropolitan area.
The case, “Large School District Struggles to Obtain E-Rate Funds After
Bid-Rigging Probe,” discusses E-Rate as a funding source for school
districts as well as some pitfalls associated with this federal program.
The purpose of the funding is to ensure Universal Telecommunications
Service is available to public schools and libraries. If approved,
applicants are required to follow and maintain strict accounting
procedures, and any red flags raised during the continual compliance
assurance process can immediately stop funding until a resolution is
found. The potential for a good deal of tension among education
stakeholders exists when E-Rate funding is put on hold due to such audit
questions. Such experiences are common as detailed in this case study.
In “Technology in the Special Education Classroom,” Prairie School
District believes in integrating technology into classroom learning for
all students. However, for some schools, “all students,” does not
include the special education population. Rolando was a 7 year old
autistic boy labeled with Autism and mental retardation. Read the case
story, and decide if you were Rolando's teacher, would you have reacted
In the case study, “Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Students Using
Computer-Assisted Devices”, Paul, a 12 year old 6th grader diagnosed as
Bipolar, ADHD, and having difficulty controlling impulses, attended a
public school and stayed in the general education classroom all day.
After multiple research-based interventions had been tried over a period
of weeks, Paul’s teacher and the behavior specialist decided to try
computer software to help him reflect on his behaviors and how his
behaviors made others feel.
It is now commonplace for students to bring PDAs and smart phones into
the classroom which gives them swift access to the internet. While this
technology is a benefit for students conducting research for a project,
it can also be detrimental for educators conducting assessments. “Pop
Quiz Debacle” describes a particular quandary for educators who work
with advanced placement or gifted/talented students. For students with a
very high GPA and other academic performance, what distinguishes them
is how perfect they are, so there's no room for any kind of error. If
there's no room for error, students tend to cheat – even though these
students would have done just fine on the test. They say they cheat
because, “this is [our] safety net.”
In recent years Facebook, MySpace, and other social-networking sites
have been blamed for the suicides of teenagers in Missouri,
Massachusetts, and New York. Parents complained their children were
traumatized by nasty comments posted by cyberbullies on
social-networking sites. Schools and districts are taking action in
response. According to a T H E Journal
survey conducted in 2009, 68
percent of respondents replied that their districts banned social
networking sites for students and teachers, 19 respondents replied that
they banned social networking sites only for students, and another 12
percent said there was no ban in their districts. In the case study
titled “Principal’s Letter to Parents: Take Kids off Social Networking,”
a middle school principal calls for parents to yank their children from
all social-networking sites after a so-called “Naughty List” was posted
on Facebook. Is his extreme measure justifiable?
The case, “Students’ Reliance on the use of Technology for Classroom,”
describes how Ms. Turner, an eighth grade History teacher, assigns
students a research paper on Cuba and communism. She asks the students
to use only paper media for their research materials. Her students
argue, “Why should we waste time using books to find information, when
we can just look it up on the Web quickly?” Angry parents also question
why the students should have to use only books for research when they
have been given laptops by the school.
Cyber bullying has increased with the use of the Internet. Increasingly,
youths are using their tech gadgets and social media to abuse others in
romantic relationships. According to new results from the Cyberbullying
Research Center, a research group dedicated to tracking bullying
behaviors among online youth, about 10 percent of interviewed teens
reported receiving a threatening cell phone message from their romantic
partner. Abusive teens may also exert their control by preventing their
partners from using technology, experts say. About 10 percent of teens
interviewed said a romantic partner forbade them from using a computer
or cell phone. Many students are at a disadvantage because they do not
know how to identify cyber bullying, neither do they know what to do
once they have identified that they or someone they know is being
bullied. The case “Cyber Gangs inside the Classroom” describes how
neither Jonathan’s parents nor his teachers knew about the difficult
situation Jonathan was experiencing with his classmates. Like so many
parents and teachers, they did not have any reason to suspect that
ten-year-old Jonathan was a victim of a cyber gang’s activities
occurring right in his own living room and inside his classroom.
In the case study titled “Technology Integration in the Home?” Mrs.
Lincoln, who developed her course using a Web-based course management
system named Moodle, spent time working on her Moodle pages and posting
assignments. She then explained to students how the site worked. She
also spent a week in the computer lab training her students to become
proficient using the Moodle application. After a couple of weeks, Mrs.
Lincoln noticed that a quarter of her students were not completing their
Moodle-based assignments. If homework assignments that require the use
of a computer are given to students, should they be penalized for what
their family cannot afford?
Cell phones in the classroom have become as common as pencil and paper.
Teachers are faced with the challenge of making sure that students are
not using the phone during class time. One of the features that the cell
phone offers is the ability to take pictures and create videos. Not
only can these features contribute to cheating, but it can also be used
to capture unflattering photos or live moments of teachers and students.
Students can take pictures of their unsuspecting classmates in the
locker rooms or restrooms, violating privacy. In an act of harassment,
they can distribute pictures of classmates to others. They can promote
violence by recording fights at school. They can also use their video
capability to provoke teachers and then post their video on sites such
as YouTube. Teachers also try to integrate YouTube videos for teaching
“YouTube in the Classroom” tells the story that among Mrs. Grant’s 22
first graders, ten are English language learners, while another two are
autistic and have special needs. One of the autistic students is
physically and verbally aggressive. Mrs. Grant played a video explaining
the importance of classroom rules. She showed another YouTube video
showing students following their classroom rules. Mrs. Grant realized
that the classroom had many obstacles to overcome before becoming an
emotionally and physically safe place for all the students.
A great deal goes into ensuring a smooth-running classroom when a
teacher is absent. The case, “Technology and the Substitute Teacher,”
describes why Mrs. Truman highly recommends pre-regulated set-up and
training in technology for substitute teachers.
Mrs. Long’s integration of video games in the classroom is a work in
progress. In “Video Games in the Classroom: A Success or Game Over,” she
has observed how video games are a great way to motivate and engage
students. On the other hand, she has observed how video games can lead
to academic and behavior concerns.
Roosevelt School District, a small urban elementary school district, is
trying to find a way to purchase new digital technology for campuses.
The basis of the case study titled “How Do We Close the Gap between
Technology Innovation and Available Funding?” is to develop a plan for
how the district can pay for new technology.
The case “Technology and Traditional Teaching” explains how despite
recent online learning inroads in schools, many professional educators
and administrators remain hesitant, reluctant, and even resistant to
teaching with technology. The cause of resistance to technology is often
misinterpreted. Teachers do not resist the technology itself. Teachers
resist what the technology may represent - change, confusion, loss of
control, and impersonalization. As long as these concerns remain
unaddressed, technology adoption in any organization will be an uphill
In “Technology Use on My Campus”, Ms. Gonzalez, librarian/media
specialist of an urban high school, is asked to prepare a presentation
to explain to a panel of campus stakeholders, the results of her study
of the current status of technology use. The goal of the presentation is
to inform the panel of stakeholders so they can develop a plan to
further implement the use of technology as a teaching and learning tool
The author of the case “A High School Librarian’s Participation in
Supporting Information Literacy on Her Campus” argues that the ability
to navigate the web and to use technology effectively and efficiently is
no longer an option but a requirement in schools and in the workplace.
Information literacy is widely accepted as embracing rapid advances in
technologies and recognizing the multiple literacies required of
students living and learning in this century. Information literacy has
grown to include traditional literacy, computer literacy, media
literacy, and network literacy. School library media specialists in the
twenty-first century face both challenges and opportunities in the
recent high expectations of information literacy. Among the challenges
is keeping up with changing technologies and taking the necessary steps
to ensure students and teachers have appropriate access to resources and
instruction. Opportunities include the chance to transform today’s
library into a resource center of the future where information literacy
can be easily obtained. Welcome to the world of Ms. West, a middle
school teacher turned high school librarian, and see how she ponders
upon her new role as being the instructor/specialist of information
literacy skills on the campus, a reading advocate and provider of
reading materials, as the manager of the resources both information and
library resources, and lastly being a collaborator with teachers
concerning information literacy issues.
The case “Social Networks: Education beyond the Classroom” describes how
Mr. Taylor, a new and techno-savvy teacher, stays connected by
maintaining his own social network pages. However, after seeing that
other students were using his social network page as a medium for
negativity, gossip, inappropriate conversations, and unsuitable remarks,
he questioned its continued use as a helpful teaching tool for those
utilizing it appropriately.
Distress signals seen in today's American urban schools include
increasingly overloaded and underfunded schools, a growing population of
indifferent students, limited access to technology, aging school
facilities, and outdated books and classroom resources. Teaching
requires preparation that responds to the rigorous demands of the
contemporary urban classroom. Section 2 contains a collection of cases
written by teacher educators in higher education institutes on issues
relevant to K-12 urban school settings.
The first four cases in Section 2, written by university faculty, focus
on enhancing K-12 students’ learning with technology. Interestingly, the
cases concerning youth cultures, collaborative tools, and gaming align
closely with previous cases written by current and future K-12 teachers
in Section 1, but through a difference lens.
This first case study in Section 2, “Using Online Collaborative Tools to
Foster Middle School Students’ Public Voices: Payoffs, Perils and
Possibilities,” addresses how an 8th grade U.S. history teacher in a New
York urban school, using wikis and online discussion with his students,
came to realize that what technology users need in order to take charge
of their own online decision making is a series of trial-and-error
solutions. This case describes a teacher’s three-year journey beginning
from his first day of teaching until he finally connected the use of
technology to relevant curricular content in order to promote his
students’ use of online public voices for social justice.
The next case discusses how improvements and access to digital
technology can provide opportunities for capturing student thinking
never previously considered. The case “Digitally Capturing Student
Thinking for Self-Assessment: Mathcasts as a Window on Student Thinking
during Mathematical Problem Solving” discusses how mathcasts were used
as a way of supporting students during their early attempts at problem
solving. Mathcasts are screen captures of students’ work as they write
and talk about their thinking during mathematical problem solving. The
authors found screencasts to be a good technological match with
mathematical problem solving that provided a more powerful opportunity
for both self-assessment and teacher assessment that was not available
with traditional paper and pencil reflection.
The next case provides reasons for the successful integration of
technology into science classes. The case, “Educational Technology in a
Novice Science Teacher’s Classroom,” describes how Mr. Bransford, a
novice science teacher, incorporated technology into his classroom
practices within his first five years of teaching. In the study, he
describes the barriers he faced, his strategies to overcome those
barriers, and the final outcome of his technology enriched classroom
“The Case Study of Game-based Learning in a Citizenship Education K-12
Classroom: Opportunities and Challenges” focuses on technology
incorporation, in particular gaming technology, into the subject area of
Citizenship Education. The case study takes place within the context of
a K-12 classroom and explores the processes in which a classroom
teacher may have to navigate to be able to use innovative technology
within their classroom. The case highlights the main issues relating to
pedagogical and institutional considerations.
“Leveraging Technology to Develop Pre-Service Teachers’ TPACK in
Mathematics and Science Methods Courses” presents two cases that address
issues related to using technology as a tool to develop pre-service
teachers’ Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) in
mathematics and science methods courses.
In “Issues and Challenges in Preparing Teachers to Teach in the
Twenty-First Century,” Gibson examines the impact that immersion in
technology-infused social studies pedagogy courses had on preservice
teachers. The case describes the teachers’ willingness to use computer
and online tools as well as how they used them during their student
teaching. Teacher education students enrolled in two pedagogy courses
were surveyed at the beginning and end of the courses and interviewed
over the duration of the courses regarding the nature and extent of
their technological knowledge and skill. Following the completion of the
pedagogy courses, six volunteered to have their technology use tracked
during their nine-week practice teaching experience.
The case study “Web-Based Instruction: A Case Study of Preservice
Elementary Teachers’ Efficacy in Modeling and Reasoning with Fractions”
explores the efficacy of web-based instruction on preservice elementary
teachers’ mathematics learning. Ten preservice elementary teachers were
interviewed regarding their ability to model and reason with fractions
after receiving web-based instruction on these topics in their regular
mathematics method course. The interview transcripts were used to
provide information about the strength and weakness of participants’
conceptual and procedural understanding of fractions.
An online, statewide technology professional development project was
implemented for middle school teachers in Nevada. The case study, “The
Pathway to Nevada’s Future: A Case of Statewide Technology Integration
and Professional Development,” reports the preliminary findings
associated with the planning, development, and implementation of the
Pathway to Nevada’s Future project. Baseline data, participant
characteristics, findings, and results from participation are reported.
The empirical case study discussed in “Using Technology to Support
Algebra Teaching and Assessment: A Teacher Development Case Study”
reports on the advancement of 8th grade Algebra I teachers’ mathematical
assessment practices of technology-based activities and classroom
artifacts during a two-year professional development program. As a part
of the professional development program, participating teachers
documented their use of examining and assessing algebraic work on a
handheld Computer Algebra System.
In “ABCs and PCs: Effective Professional Development in Early Childhood
Education,” Hansen describes how effective professional development
seminars can transform teaching practices, invigorate teachers, and
increase student engagement. Eighteen elementary teachers completed a
yearlong, rigorous, sixty-hour workshop experience that focused on
integrating technology in content area instruction. Participants
integrated technology effectively, began to develop leadership skills,
and experienced changes in attitude, beliefs, knowledge, and
capabilities as technology influenced existing curricula.
The case described in “Designing Technology-Rich Professional
Development” focuses on the following scenario: As the technology
coordinator for a school district you receive a state grant to provide
technology resources and professional development for every teacher in
the intermediate (Grades 5-6), middle (Grades 7-8) and high school
(Grades 9-12) classrooms in your district. This case study describes the
story of how one school district responded to this challenge.
The book is designed to fill the gaps left in the technology and teacher
education field, as typical textbooks for technology and teacher
education usually present skills to be learned such as word processing,
database management, multimedia creation, and to provide the background
required for insight into more advanced issues for integrating
technology in education.
Based on the critical issues found in each case, discussion questions
have been generated for classroom engagement. Discussion questions
provided discussion starters for further investigation, debate, and
discovery. For some cases, sample answers to the discussion questions
are offered to encourage further development. The response to these
questions is open-ended and although research appears to be moving in
one direction, there does not seem to be one “right” answer. The case
study approach has been effective to train students to think critically
and make reasonable judgments. These discussion questions make it
relatively easy to facilitate investigation and class participation.
This is a text for graduate students in instructional technology or
curriculum and instruction programs with a serious interest in
technology. In-service and prospective teachers may also benefit from
the insights and understanding that can be gained from deep thinking and
discussions. This collection of case studies contains ideas that we are
confident the reader will find worthy of consideration.
This book can be approached from a variety of ways, depending on the
reader’s interests and needs. It can be read in sequence or can simply
be dipped into as needed. We the contributors hope you find it useful,
stimulating and at times, a little challenging.