Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 4, Number 3, Winter 2009
TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION Digital History with Student-Created Multimedia: Understanding Student Perceptions
Thomas C. Hammond
Meghan McGlinn Manfra
North Carolina State University
Social studies educators have displayed an interest in student-created multimedia, including digital documentaries. The research community has responded with a small but growing body of studies, but the literature to date has not explored students’ perspectives on these assignments. This study combined classroom observations, document analysis, and student interviews to examine students’ views of technology, the curriculum, and their final products. The findings reveal that students come to technology-based, content-driven assignments with prior conceptions of both the technology and the content. These expectations shape student actions and transform the assignment, in some cases surpassing curricular expectations. Evidence from students’ products, classroom observations, and interview data, however, also suggest that student agency was limited by the classroom reality of mimetic learning. The results of this study have various implica-tions for teacher educators and educational researchers interested in leveraging technology to improve learning. They must acknowledge the dynamic nature of classroom interaction and the impact student choices have on Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). Technology integration occurs in the operational curriculum, often in unpredictable ways. Based on our study we know that student preconceptions and desires impact the learning goals. By better understanding the role of student agency, teachers can plan for instruction that uses digital history to effectively teach content.