Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Connecting with Pre-Service Teachers' Perspectives on the Use of Digital Technologies and Social Media to Teach Socially Relevant Science

Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Connecting with Pre-Service Teachers' Perspectives on the Use of Digital Technologies and Social Media to Teach Socially Relevant Science

Article excerpt

Introduction and research background

The recent Framework for Institutional Quality Enhancement from the South African Council on Higher Education (CHE) identifies key imperatives for change in South African higher education. One of these is the imperative to address national needs, such as social justice and economic development, through higher education. Another is to equip students for the 21st century by facilitating critical and creative engagement with increasingly ubiquitous social media and digital technologies (CHE, 2014).

Our research team consists of five teacher educators from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in the School of Education at a South African university. Although we teach in the separate specialisations of Gender and Education, Languages and Arts, Mathematics Education, Science Education, and Teacher Development Studies, we share an interest in addressing pressing social issues and engaging with new technologies in higher education curricula. In this article we consider how the two national imperatives for change mentioned above might interconnect in the teaching of science education.

This article builds on our previous research exploring the use of digital technologies, in particular, digital animation, as an innovative and responsive method for integrating social issues in higher education curricula. We created and screened a digital animation entitled Take a risk: It's as easy as ABC, with the aim of provoking discussion and interaction among university educators on integration of social issues in higher education teaching and learning (Pithouse-Morgan et al., 2015). For the research reported on here we extended the opportunity for response to the same digital animation to a group of pre-service science teachers and sought to answer the following question: What are pre-service science teachers' perspectives on the use of digital technologies and social media to teach socially relevant science? We did this in two stages: first, we invited the pre-service teachers to use a temporary Internet link to find, view, and critique the animation, and second, we engaged the pre-service teachers in a concept-mapping task to elicit their perspectives on the use of digital technologies and social media to teach socially relevant issues in science.

This article begins with a brief explanation of our research focus on socially relevant issues in science education. Next we draw on generational theory (Codrington & Grant-Marshall, 2004) to consider the educational significance of digital technologies and social media. Thereafter, we describe the process of working with the pre-service science teachers to elicit their perspectives on how addressing pressing social issues and engaging with new technologies might interconnect in the teaching of science. We go on to examine the pre-service teachers' responses to the digital animation as well as their viewpoints as expressed through the concept-mapping activity. To conclude, we consider what we as teacher educators and educational researchers can learn from the pre-service teachers' insights into the potential value of using digital technologies in teaching socially relevant science.

Teaching socially relevant science

Unprecedented and pervasive global environmental challenges (for example, climate change) have resulted in a reconsideration of the role of education in general and of science education in particular (Onwu & Kyle, 2011). The rationale for a re-thinking of science education, which Mudaly refers to as a renaiscience, calls for science teachers to perceive science as a human activity, and requires the adoption of a "sociocultural approach to science education" (Mudaly, 2011: 29) instead of seeing science as "something that exists in human minds as concepts, skills and representations" (Roth & Lee, 2003: 264). From this perspective the imperative of science education is to provide young people with a greater sense of environmental consciousness and to foster a "moral obligation to the planet" (Hart, 2007: 689). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.