Implementing a Problem-Based Technology Learning Environment to Foster Cultural Literacy and Responsiveness Instructional Skills

Implementing a Problem-Based Technology Learning Environment to Foster Cultural Literacy and Responsiveness Instructional Skills

Blanche Jackson Glimps (Tennessee State University, USA) and Theron Ford (John Carroll University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4924-8.ch009
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Technology is part of our daily lives; we can observe the use of technology in our cell phones and portable computers and, most notably, within classrooms. If used within the proper pedagogical context, computer-aided technology can be quite advantageous to teacher educators whose pedagogical belief is also centered on teaching and learning that is responsive to students’ needs and cultures. When technology is combined with Problem-Based Learning (PBL), it can be a powerful aid to help pre-service teachers build cultural literacy and the skills needed to be responsive to students’ needs. This chapter presents a single case study of the highly successful academic outcomes through the wedding of PBL and technology.
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It is the perceptions of the authors, both of whom are teacher educators; that students in our programs exhibit an alarming deficiency in cultural literacy. We define cultural literacy as the ability to “read” the nation’s traditional cultural narrative through critical eyes. It is our effort to examine our national narrative and the equally unexamined beliefs that are spawned in such a vacuum and readily accepted by an uncritical populous. Such beliefs engender, support, and perpetuate idealism about the United States of America (USA) and its people. Moreover, the lack of cultural literacy contributes to the lack of intellectual curiosity many citizens of this country display about other nations, other cultures, the lack of desire to learn any language other than English, or even their own history. Frequently, a cultural literacy deficit may lead to the production of totally erroneous “knowledge.” Misinformed and lacking a deep contextual knowledge of one’s own national history has produced an epidemic of highly opinionated citizens contently happy to function in a data free environment.

Further, a lack of cultural literacy may impact negatively the process of teaching because teachers come to rely on state mandated standards and curriculum guides. Instead of viewing the curriculum as a foundation upon which they should build in order to provide the students an intellectually holistic educational experience, these curriculum tools become unquestioned documents that are an end in themselves. In this age of accountability, teachers are fearful of negative characterization of their skill as educators. Therefore, they increasingly prepare their students to take and successfully navigate an increasingly crowded path through grades K-12 filled with high-stakes testing in nearly every grade level by “teaching to the test.” The message conveyed to students is not one that encourages them to dig below the surface in order to obtain a more expansive and culturally rich education.

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