Critical Study of Gender and Teacher-Designed Interactive Educational Websites

Critical Study of Gender and Teacher-Designed Interactive Educational Websites

James M. Perren (Eastern Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch301
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Introduction

I, too, never thought I’d make a website. I always figured that they were too “codey” or “techie” to ever comprehend. To think that I could make a simple power-point and make it world wide within minutes amazes me. (Excerpt 1, Data Set UG)

This article focuses on exploring teacher-created interactive educational websites to develop a critical and poststructural theoretical perspective for language teacher education (Kumaravadivelu, 2008; Pavlenko, 2002) corresponding to technology and gender (Solomon, 2000; Anderson & Damarin, 2001). Gender issues pertaining to technology in education are a concern for educators and teacher educators (Cammack & Phillips, 2002; Haynie, 2003; Voyles & Williams, 2004; Wajcman, 2000). A heightened sensitivity to the two specific educational contexts through poststructural theory was implemented because the majority of the research participants in both settings were female; this corresponds with recent educational statistics indicating that the United States K-12 teacher workforce has been and is becoming increasingly female (Cammack & Phillips, 2002; Feistritzer, 2005). “Eight out of 10 public school teachers (82 percent) are female. This is up from 74 percent in 1996, 71 percent in 1990 and 69 percent in 1986” (Feistritzer, 2005). We can learn from instructional technology scholars about the important link between poststructuralism and technology (Anderson & Damarin, 2001). “Poststructural feminism challenges masculinist views of knowledge by using strategies of opposition, resistance, and deconstruction” (Anderson & Damarin, 2001, p. 20). A central concern for the implementation of this pedagogical practice has been to facilitate the empowerment of all teacher candidates to use technology, male and female.

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Background

With the abundant availability of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) resources it is now possible to utilize multitudes of Internet resources to support language learning. CALL is defined as, “the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning” (Levy, 1997, p. 1). Research shows mixed results with web-based learning activities due to mismatches between learning objectives and specific Internet content. Fortunately, teachers can access and utilize free ‘template’ websites, create websites easily and then present materials and activities on the web. Nevertheless, scholars examining relationships between gender and technology in teacher education report conflicting evidence in terms of computer use and numerous key factors such as perception of computer skills, confidence, and gender differences (Fleming, Motamedi, & May, 2007; Madden, 2003; Palma, 2004; Yuen & Ma, 2002). For example, gender differences can possibly be attributed to perceived competence and the type of use (Fleming et al., 2007, p. 209). The opening excerpt shows a reshaped student identity as she becomes empowered to use technology for her teaching practice. She displays agency in designing and implementing an interactive educational website a ‘techie’ can make. Utilization of teacher candidates’ perspectives as data can be a beneficial step toward increased technology integration in teacher training programs advocated by Hubbard and Levy (2006). This study is motivated by a suggestion to improve language teacher training in CALL (Kessler, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learner-Designed Content: In learner designed instruction the role of the learner is to make decisions about how to investigate the general subject matter topic in order to produce questions that lead to a specific focus within the general topic.

Investment: The construct of investment six to make a meaningful connection between a learner’s desire and commitment to learn and the educational practices of the classroom or community.

Gender: The range of physical, mental, and behavioral characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity.

Interactive (in Computer Science): Relating to a program that responds to user activity.

Poststructural Theory: The works of mid-20 th century French and continental philosophers and critical theorists who problematize the stability in human sciences arguing for the complexity of humans instead.

Instructional Design: The branch of knowledge concerned with research and theory about instructional strategies and the process for developing and implementing the strategies.

Reflections: Thinking for an extended period by linking recent experiences to earlier ones in order to promote a more complex and interrelated mental schema.

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