THWT & Professional Development

If technology is integrated in such a way as to foster engaged learning and develop essential skills that help students become effective global citizens than it is being used effectively. Unfortunately, professional development in educational technology in the United States is largely underfunded and many teachers simply don’t get the help they need to integrate technology effectively into their courses. Many teachers remain intimidated by technology, or just doubt its usefulness.

The Center for Teaching History with Technology believes that educators need to be shown that technology can help teachers teach and students learn and also be provided with models and examples of exemplary technology use.With that goal in mind,we offer a multitude of free online resources presented in the form of a broad tutorial — full of guides, tips, strategies, video tutorials, examples, and annotated links — to help history and social studies teachers integrate technology effectively in their classes.

EdTechTeacher, our parent organization, is an educational technology professional development provider dedicated to helping teachers use technology to create active, student-centered learning communities. The EdTechTeacher “Teaching for the 21st Century” Professional Development Program (T21) provides cohorts of teachers the opportunity to develop their technology integration skills over a one-year period with the coaching and support of educators who have extensive experience teaching with technology. EdTechTeacher also offers technology integration workshops each summer in the Greater Boston area, and we travel to schools around the country, and abroad, to deliver keynote presentations and lead workshops.

Technology in Social Studies Classrooms: Best Practices

What makes for successful technology integration? These teachers provide their best practices for ensuring that student learning increases.

Basic Tips for Getting Started

1. Get Some Training.
You don’t have to become a computer expert, but you need to have some basic understanding how computers operate and what to do when they do not operate properly. You should also become familiar with a web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer and websites that provide tech-integration resources and tutorials. Your school or college likely has an instructional technology specialist to help you in this regard.

2. Don’t Re-invent the Wheel.
There are plenty of credible and experienced educational technology organizations, administrators and teachers out there who can lead you to quality materials, lesson plans and activities for use in your classroom. You don’t have to spend hours using search engines to locate appropriate sites and materials. Some of the best educational Web sites for integrating technology in the classroom are:

3. Establish a Partnership with Your Students.
Many of your students will be excited about computer use, but you and they may be apprehensive about how technology will change your learning environment. Tell your students that computer use in your classroom is new and exciting for you as well, and that you are all part of an experiment whose ultimate success will largely depend on your combined efforts and cooperation. Stress how special this educational opportunity is and how much you need their input. Remember, it’s about the students, not you. Your students will probably appreciate you asking for their help and it may spur them to take ownership of the program. It also may soften some frustrations when technical problems occur.

4. Have Plan B Ready.
You are going to run into some technical difficulties in class and how you handle them will go a long way in determining how successful and enjoyable your technology experience is. You can minimize unwanted surprises by getting some training from an instructional technology specialist and by minimizing your reliance on live web connections. However, you will invariably run into technical problems during class that you are not able to solve immediately. In such instances, if you appear overly perturbed and frustrated you will send a signal to your students that they too can moan about technical problems and perhaps use them as excuses to forego completing computer-based work. Even worse, you may inadvertently cause them to question the ultimate merit of computer-based learning. Instead, try to make a smooth transition to a backup lesson plan, thereby sending a signal that technical glitches are just part of your educational adventure.

Studies, Sources and Suggested Readings

Cantu, Antonio. “An Internet Based Multiple Intelligences Model for Teaching High School History”, from theJournal of the Association for History and Computing at

Daccord, Thomas. (2007) The Best of History Web Sites. Neal-Schuman Press.

Daccord, Thomas & Reich, Justin. (2008) Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Teachers. M.E. Sharpe.

Christensen, C. M., Horn, M. B., & Johnson, C. W. (2008). Disrupting class : How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Diamond, J. B. (October 2007). “Where the rubber meets the road: Rethinking the connection between high-stakes testing policy and classroom instruction.” Sociology of Education, 80, 285-313(29).

Gardner, H. (2006). Five minds for the future. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.

Jenkins, H. (2007). In Clinton K., Purushotma R., Robison A. and Weigel M.(Eds.), Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Chicago, Il.: MacArthur Foundation.

Levy, F., & Murnane, R. J. (2004). The new division of labor: How computers are creating the next job market.Princeton, N.J.; New York: Princeton University Press; Russell Sage Foundation.

Freidman, Thomas. (2005) The World is Flat. New Yorl: Farrar.

National Council for the Social Studies. “Powering Social Studies with Technology,” Social Education, Volume 69 Number 3, April 2005.

Pink, Daniel. (2006). A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Riverhead Trade.

Shneiderman, Ben. (2003). Leonardo’s Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies. The MIT Press.

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL). “Critical Issue: Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement” from

TLT Group. ” Why Bother to Make the Effort to Improve Teaching and Learning With Technology?” from

TeleLearning Network, Inc. “The emerging contribution of online resources and tools to classroom learning and teaching” from

Wagner, Tony. (2008). The Global Achievement Gap : Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need–and what we can do about it. Basic Books.