Twenty Years of Technology: A Retrospective View of Social Education's Technology Themed Issues

Article excerpt

IN 1997, Martorella likened technology in the social studies to a sleeping giant. Among his suggestions to move the field forward, he called for "more research, reflection, and developmental efforts." (1) As evidence of the stagnant state of the field, he revealed a scant number of technology related articles in our professional "beacons" [THEORY AND RESEARCH IN SOCIAL EDUCATION, SOCIAL EDUCATION, and SOCIAL STUDIES AND THE YOUNG LEARNER]. Since the time Martorella made his call to increase technology-related scholarship, many more educators have contributed articles involving technology and social studies. As such, THEORY AND RESEARCH IN SOCIAL EDUCATION published one technology-themed issue in 2000 and is currently soliciting manuscripts for a second, to be published in 2007. SOCIAL STUDIES AND THE YOUNG LEARNER has published three technology themed issues (1995, 1999, and 2004) and regularly publishes technology-related articles. In 1999, NCSS published an annual bulletin, edited by Joe Braun and Fred Risinger, Surfing Social Studies: The Internet Book.

SOCIAL EDUCATION, though, has been the most consistent NCSS journal to dedicate entire issues to technology and its usage within the social studies. The first themed-issue appeared in 1983, with Richard Diem as guest editor. In his introduction, Diem called for social studies teachers to "become part of this [technology] excitement by using the technology, explaining the issues surrounding its development, and voicing their opinions about the direction that technology should take in their classrooms." (2) In a recent interview, Diem stated that this first themed-issue came about after much discussion between he and his colleagues and the then-editor of SOCIAL EDUCATION, and as a result of his belief, along with that of the other contributing authors, that the emergence of technology in the social studies held significant consequences. (3)

Despite this initial interest in technology, another SOCIAL EDUCATION dedicated specifically to technology did not appear until 1987, though many issues in between included sections devoted to software, computer equipment, and (beginning in the 1990s) websites. In 1991, the journal began including an Instructional Technology section in many of its issues. A majority of these articles were reviews of new software. Finally, in 1997, SOCIAL EDUCATION began to publish an annual, technology-themed issue and has continued it through the present date.

Since 1983, NCSS has published 11 technology-themed issues of SOCIAL EDUCATION, including the current issue. All of these editions reflect the evolution of micro-computing in general and, more specifically, the changing way social studies educators approach computer technology integration. We have reviewed each of these 11 issues and identified key themes related to authors, technology tools, genre, and theoretical perspectives. By doing this, we have traced the development of the field and have called for future directions in research and teaching.

Who has Written about Technology in the Social Studies?

Originally, guest editors, presumably chosen for their distinguished work related to social studies and technology, solicited and reviewed manuscripts for each technology issue. In 1983, Diem was the first such special editor; Diane S. Kendall and Howard Budin served as special editors in 1987. "When the annual technology issues began in 1997, the Instructional Technology editors of SOCIAL EDUCATION assumed responsibility for soliciting and reviewing manuscripts. Charles S. White brought his vision to the 1997 and 1998 technology issues; C. Frederick Risinger was guest editor in 1999; and beginning in 2000, Michael J. Berson and Cheryl Mason Bolick took over as editors of the technology issues.

A review of these issues reveals the diversity of educators who contributed their ideas over the past 20 years: 87 different authors contributed to SOCIAL EDUCATION'S technology issues. …