Using Online Collaborative Tools to Foster Middle School Students’ “Public Voices”: Payoffs, Perils and Possibilities

Nick Lawrence (East Bronx Academy, USA) and Joe O’Brien (University of Kansas, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 126
EISBN13: 9781466616875|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-492-5.ch023
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Digital participatory media offer urban social studies teachers a unique opportunity to foster students’ civic skills and public voice while enhancing their understanding of social justice within a democratic society. This case study addresses how an 8th grade U.S. history teacher in a New York urban school, when 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 at best an art and, more often than not, a series of trial-and-error solutions” (Lankes, 2008, p. 103), while operating within two constraints identified by Bull et al (2008): “Teachers have limited models for effective integration of media in their teaching; and, only limited research is available to guide best practice” (p. 2). While using digital collaborative tools enabled students to develop collaborative and communication skills and begin to learn social justice oriented content, the teacher faced challenges related to technology integration, curricular alignment, selection of appropriate digital tools, and fostering online academic norms among students. This chapter focuses on a teacher’s three-year journey from his first day of teaching to his connecting the use of technology to relevant curricular content to promote his students’ use of online public voices for social justice.
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