Social Justice and Genocide Studies 12 are two Social Studies courses that I had the pleasure of creating for the secondary school in which I teach, as I do not have a stable classroom of my own. The goal of these courses was to be accessible to all, regardless of the location or facilitator. For the purpose of this course, I will focus on improving and implementing technology into Social Justice 12 as it is the subject I am least satisfied with the development of.
This course was placed on a WordPress site (https://sd91seniorhumanitiesfsjss.wordpress.com/) so that all course materials and assignments were organized and easy to find. The downfall of this format is that assignments still needed to be printed off and submitted in person. This means that the traditional classroom environment is still in place. The way the course is taught is largely left up the facilitator, which can lead to inconsistencies in instruction and grading. The specific subject matter that I would like to focus on are “What are human rights” and “What are ethics”. Being that these are rich and controversial topics, direction in how to evaluate sources of information is paramount. “Understanding is achieved by assimilating information, relating it to our existing knowledge and reflecting on it” (Bates, 2012) is a keystone of constructivism and an essential element of working within the curriculum of Social Justice. Facilitating students to make their own decisions about the topics calls under the auspice of connectivism, which is a key part of a blended course. These two theories would allow students greater opportunities to have choice in how they interact with the subject and have agency over their choices. There would need to be a focus on digital literacy, especially when accessing information from the internet.
Currently students choose this class rather than being assigned to it, so student engagement varies greatly. Some students have thrived within the loose structure, while others have floundered, needing more rigidity. Motivation when they are the only one taking the course is difficult to maintain if there is no passion in it. Enabling this course to be accessed by other schools within the district would hopefully increase student engagement and allow for greater connections to the subject. Exposure to different opinions and experiences would encourage critical thinking.
The possibility of this course becoming a full blended course would lay a foundation for other courses and create a framework for other facilitators to follow. A focus on encouraging students to think about the world beyond themselves and to be able to evaluate that which they are told, can only lead to greater global and digital citizenship.
Bates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Vancouver, BC: Tony Bates Associates. ISBN-13: 978-0-9952692-1-7
Hoeschmann, Michael, DeWaard, Helen. (2015) Mapping Digital Literacy Policy and Practice in the Canadian Education Landscape: MediaSmarts. Available at http://mediasmarts.ca/teacher-resources/digital-literacy-framework/mapping-digital-literacy-policy-practice-canadian-education-landscape
Mozilla . (n.d.). Web Literacy. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/initiatives/web-literacy/
Tondeur, J., van Braak, J., Ertmer, P., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2017). Understanding the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and technology use in education: A systematic review of qualitative evidence. Educational Technology Research and Development, 65(3), 555–575. doi: 10.1007/s11423-016-9481-2