Relative advantage is “a term coined by Everett Rogers to refer to the perception by potential adopters of how much better an innovative method or resource is than the old one” (2016.) Reading chapter 12 of Roblyer’s book Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching has given me a clear and solid understanding of the relative advantage of using technology to teach social studies. In this blog post, I will present evidence that the use of technology can make social studies topics more relevant and authentic. Little time will be spent discussing how technology makes social studies more engaging, because technology is a tool that creates excitement among students on any topic of study!
Because Social Studies is such a broad topic, it can be difficult to summarize or specify the overall goal of studying this subject, but Roblyer gives a concise explanation of it’s purpose. “Social Studies instruction is designed to help us discover and better understand our world and it’s people…” He goes on to state that, “...technology-based strategies have become integral to this instruction” (2016.)
There are specific ways that technology can be used to make learning in the social studies classroom more relevant. One advantage of using digital resources in the social studies classroom is how rapidly the digital information changes. Accessing digital resources allows us to stay up-to-date. This is especially significant because various topics within social studies, such as politics, economics and current events, change constantly (2016.) Another form of technology that makes social studies more relevant is simulation. Most social studies topics are complex, and simulations make these concepts more clear and meaningful (2016.) Finally, the use of Information Visualization Strategies allow students to represent data in an easy to understand form. Using graphs, spreadsheets, and timelines make information easier for students to analyze and represent. These are just a few ways technology can make learning more relevant.
Technology can also be used to make learning authentic. Learning can come to life as students take virtual field trips to visit places they would otherwise only be able to read or hear about. Adventure learning can bring places and stories to life as students experience these places in person or remotely. Digital storytelling allows students to personalize and internalize learning.
Technology tools should never be chosen to simply replace one type of learning in the classroom but should be carefully and mindfully selected. When selected wisely, technology can enhance learning greatly, as seen in the previous examples. The opportunities for motivating students, enhancing the relevancy of learning and making student experiences authentic are endless. Enriching the learning experience in the social studies classroom using technology is an exciting opportunity!
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching [eText]. Retrieved from www.pearsonhighered.com/etextbooks.