There are many factors that keep teachers from effectively integrating technology in their classrooms in all subject areas, social studies has it's own particular set of challenges.
One challenge teacher's face is time. No one hands a social studies teacher a prepackaged year's worth of technology sources proven to be effective for student learning. Teachers spend hours and hours scouring the vast array of resources available to them to try to find ones that fit in with their standards, hoping that they are as engaging and effective as they think they could be. And, with as rapidly as technology changes and new digital content is created, what is the best source one year may be obsolete the next year. One way teachers can try to make this process a little less time consuming is to develop a network of other teachers who are also committed to finding and integrating effective technology and digital content. One of the very best resources teachers have is each other.
Another challenge that is particularly unique to social studies is the teachers themselves. Zhao (2007) found that teachers’ technical expertise and professional experience in using technology is a major barrier to integrating technology in their classrooms. Social studies is a broad discipline, encompassing many different subjects including economics, sociology, geography, anthropology, and many others. Teachers are highly educated in a particular branch of social studies, not typically in technology.
Social studies teachers often lack the technological pedagogical content knowledge that makes technology integration effective. TPACK is a framework introduced by Mishra and Koehler that describes the intersection of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technical knowledge. The interaction of these bodies of knowledge, both theoretically and in practice, produces the types of flexible knowledge needed to successfully integrate technology use into teaching (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). How do teacher's address this challenge? On an already full plate, developing their TPACK is one more thing to add to the mix. Challenging, but necessary in my opinion. If professional development opportunities are not available they should be sought out.
Integrating technology can be difficult for many reasons, but regardless of the subject it is important to consider how influential technology is in all other areas of our students lives and make effective integrating it a priority.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge. Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education, 9(1), 60-70.
Zhao, Y. (2007). Social studies teachers' perspectives of technology integration. Journal of technology and teacher education, 15(3), 311.