Do you see this picture – you know, the one with the vast black background and two tiny specks of light? Do you know what it represents? It’s the black hole of social studies related technology integration advice when you Google the term “barriers to tech integration in the social studies classroom”
I have addressed this issue briefly in the past. There are simply not many social studies specific resources and ideas online – especially not in comparison to other content areas such as math, science, or English. While we are rich in primary sources and other history-related documents, there is a distinct lack of discussion surrounding integration ideas. When there are research articles or resources out there, they are generally dated and things have likely changed since the time of their publication. Now, I am not saying that technology integration is not happening in history classrooms – au contraire. Rather, I am saying that we, as history, teachers, are not doing a good enough job sharing our successes and failures online.
When it comes to generating ideas for my classroom, I like to search the web to see what other educators are doing. That becomes difficult to do when no one is sharing out there. There is a strong social studies community on Twitter and I wonder why that dialogue is not trickling down into blogs, research articles, and shared\open lesson plans. As such, I think the first barrier to technology integration in history is the lack of resources and sharing in online communities. What should we do? Blog and share more of what we, as teachers, do in our classes regardless of success and failure.
The other struggle I see with technology integration in the social studies classroom is the lack of quality, content-specific resources and tools. This is also something I have blogged about in the past. There are a few amazing resources out there including Mission US and Docs Teach. The Smithsonian Museum also has numerous online exhibits that bring the documents and artifacts that define history to life for students. However, given the lack of national interest in history education, there will never be as many resources generated for us as there are for the STEM subjects.
As I see it, history teachers have two choices. First, we can continue to adapt generic resources (such as Padlet, Google Docs, or Prezi to name a few) to meet our needs as many of us have for some time. The other option is for history teachers to begin to generate online content, activities, games, and resources that utilize technology and share it with the online community. That being said, the content should drive our technology choices, so sharing those lesson plans and integration ideas long with the resources is a powerful practice as well.
If history teachers can commit to freely sharing their practices, resources and stay open to creating technology content that is related to social studies, I believe that black hole of information on Google will eventually be a thing of the past.