A Project to Integrate Technology and Social Studies: An Introduction and Model


The 'integrating technology and social studies' project needs to be introduced carefully. While many high school students have experience surfing the web, some do not, and it would be wise to make sure that students are familiar with net-searching and citing internet sources before giving the assignment preventing potentially successful students from being overly intimidated.

The social studies aspect of the project will also require some introduction. High schoolers are often not accustomed to pin-pointing sources of biases, and modeling an example of a the project, or a portion of it, could prove exceedingly useful.


A teacher with the opportunity to project an internet-accessed computer screen to an entire classroom could easily model the project, addressing both the "computer-based" parts of the assignment such as Netsearching and the analysis of individual web-pages, while the students take notes or simply receive visual instruction and demonstration.

The debate over abortion in American society quickly found its way to the internet. There is an abundance of information about a woman's right to choose on the web, posted by a wide range of interest groups. A student, or anyone else for that matter, can easily be overwhelmed by both the volume and range of ideas and opinions about reproductive choice available on the web.

One home page that a student may come across when searching for information about the American debate over abortion rights is that of NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League. The home page explains the organization's purposes, and relays its philosophy. The links available on the home page also hint towards possible biases that the organization may have: the links reveal the names of Republicans who do not consistantly vote pro-choice, etc. Students can expand on this during in-class discussions or elsewhere as they begin to hone their awareness of of how and why web pages are used to persuade people regarding causes, political ideas, or other notions.

Other web pages, such as the one posted by Indiana University Students for Life, not only give a very different view regarding abortion, but also about different ways in which the web can be utilized. Unlike NARAL, IUSFL is not a national organization with a vast infrastructure, although many anti-choice organizations are. Instead, that organization's home page demonstrates how a relatively small group of individuals can make a difference by spreading their ideas on the web. Their website includes email addresses so web surfers can contact the leaders of the organization, an opportunity for individual dialogue with (potentially) millions of people, and an opportunity that those IU students probably would not have without the internet.

A third page, which gives the web page access to the book Abortion and the Christian: What Every Believer Should Know, further reveals the power of the world wide web. In addition to examining an important aspect of the abortion debate, religion, the student also discovers the content of an entire book available for free, on-line.

This project requires students to develop metacognitive skills. They learn how computers can influence both their own education and society as whole, and, at the same time, learn ways to use computers and potentially influence society themselves, especially after learning many sides or possible biases about a single issue that they decide to research. In this model, choosing three varied sources, a national politically focused organiz ation, a university student based club, and a book on-line, the student not only gains insight into the abortion debate and encounters persuasive material on many sides of the angle, but sees different uses for the web and how it may be useful for a wide variety of individuals and organizations.

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