Technology as a Tool in Multiculural Teaching

By Sleeter, Christine; Tettegah, Sharon | Multicultural Education, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview
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Technology as a Tool in Multiculural Teaching

Sleeter, Christine, Tettegah, Sharon, Multicultural Education

Often when someone talks about technology, no link is made between it and multicultural education. Similarly, few multicultural educators make links with technology. As Damarin (1998) pointed out, even though both fields represent dramatic shifts in the fabric of U.S. society and both are developing simultaneously, "they are pursued almost totally independently of each other" (p. 11). Further, many progressive theorists are highly skeptical of technology; Hammer and Kellner (2000) refer to an "elitist blindness [that] has emanated from leading educational theorists and so-called experts regarding the role of media in the everyday lives of both teacher and student."

We come to technology through multicultural education, having worked with it very productively in our courses. Technology connects with multicultural education in a number of ways. Media and other forms of telecommunications are increasingly strong dimensions in youth culture; regardless of the extent to which youth learn to work with technology, they are surrounded by various forms it takes. Fiftyeight percent of American people ages 12 and older now own a mobile phone. One out of every three adults ages 18 and older play computer games (Guterman, 2002). Individuals who develop little technology skills may find themselves unable to compete in the future job market.

Currently, one out of every ten technology jobs remain vacant due to insufficient skilled workers (Moe & Blodgett, 2000). Wood (2002) pointed out, "The fact remains: In order to compete in the workforce, all children need to be technologically proficient (85%) of all jobs will require at least some technical skills." They will also require multicultural knowledge to apply those skills in their work environment in our rapidly changing demography.

Technology as a tool can assist educators in multiple ways: web-based instruction, online education, computer mediated communication, web quests, education portals, DVD, CD-ROM, video streaming, and audio streaming allow for all possible uses in multicultural education (Chisholm, 1994, 1995; Cohen & Payiatakis, 2002; Garcia, 1993; Katz & Associates, 2002; Tiene & Ingram, 2001). Technology can also provide avenues for learners who would normally be excluded due to language differences (Cummins & Sayers, 1996; Siekmann, 1998; Tienne & Ingram, 2001). It has expanded communications options approaching universal accessibility (Robbins, 2002).

Technology and multicultural education can be important in engaging students around cultural artifacts (music, ethnic portals) to help facilitate and bridge access to language, literacy, math, science, and the arts. Further, Internet and webbased use for on-line courses/programs, diaries, MOO's (multi-object oriented) and MUD's (multi-user dimensions), interactive video systems, video conferencing, virtual reality web and Internet applications, use-nets, egroups, forums, and online community environments have allowed institutions to enrich traditional methods and break boundaries to serve students who are located throughout the world (Katz & Associates, 2002; Sykes & Reid, 1999). Previous studies have proved that technology can provide meaningful ways for educaters and students to process information and collaborate in order to promote critical thinking and social justice through multicultural education (Appelbaum & Enomoto, 1995; Chisholm, 1994, 1995; Kendall, 1999; Kollock & Smith, 1999).

Various technologies have long been integrated into teaching, such as calculators, compasses, blackboards, white boards, and overhead projectors. Multimedia technology has a long history of use in multicultural education-films and videos, filmstrips, music, and artworks have been used extensively as teaching tools for years. For example, Carson and Friedman's (1995) collection of essays describe various ways in which university level humanities and social sciences faculty use media, particularly film, to teach from multicultural perspectives.

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