1st Edition

Teaching Contemporary Themes in Secondary Education: Technology, Culture and Communication

ISBN 9780415620314
Published May 17, 2012 by Routledge

USD $32.95

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Book Description

The media has a huge impact on how we view society and the world, and new technologies continue to transform the way in which we work and learn. It is therefore essential that young people can engage critically in their consumption of media and the internet and are able to make informed decisions about the technologies they use.

This book explores the broad contexts and ideas that technology facilitates in our culture and considers what this means for teachers in practice. It aims to help you develop your understanding about, and pedagogy with, technology and includes:

    • the implications of new media and technology on twenty-first century education;
    • guidance on choosing and using digital technologies and how these affect the educational opportunities for young people;
    • a consideration of students’ critical and creative thinking with digital media and their confidence and autonomy in digital consumption and production;
    • references to recent research to support practice;
    • Links to resources and organisations who can offer support.

Technology has a crucial role to play in processes of teaching and learning. This book is essential reading for trainee and practising teachers that wish to use a range of technological tools to form a dynamic and creative learning environment.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1: Making Connections; Chapter 2: Adapting to Radical Change; Chapter 3: Towards Participation; Chapter 4: Choosing and Using Digital Technologies; Chapter 5: Making, Starting and Connecting with Digital Networked Technologies; Chapter 6: The Impact of Digital Network Technologies on Teaching and Learning; Chapter 7: Moving Forwards and Conclusion

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Clive McGoun is Senior Lecturer in Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University. His wide-ranging teaching and research interests include digital media communications and the culture and political economy of Web 2.0.

Jonathan Savage is Reader in Education and Enterprise Fellow at the Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Royal Northern College of Music. He teaches on various PGCE courses and doctoral studies programmes and is an active researcher in a wide range of areas relating to education and ICT.

Support Material


  • eResources

    Annotated Weblinks

    The following web resources were used in writing Teaching Contemporary Themes in Secondary Education: Technology, Culture and Communication.  We hope you will be able to follow-up as many of these as possible, particularly as you work through the practical/reflective tasks and questions for further discussion contained in each chapter.

    Links are organised according to their relevance for each chapter. There will, however, be cross-over and cross-fertilisation between the chapters and these links.
    If you come across a link that doesn’t seem to work anymore, please let us know. Send an email to Clive McGoun ([email protected]), entering ‘TCC Broken Link’ in the subject line of your email. Thanks.


    Clive's blog; where he curates resources for the courses he teaches as well as rehersing ideas that find their homes in various conversations and publications.

    Jonathan’s blog; where he writes about the arts, education and technology.
    Here are our five must-reads either before, during or after you’ve read Teaching Contemporary Themes in Secondary Education: Communication, Culture and Technology. These were the books that really got us thinking and shaped many of our subsequent ideas:

    'Something went wrong around the start of the 21st century. Individual creativity began to go out of fashion. Music became an endless rehashing of the past. Scientists were in danger of no longer understanding their own research. Indeed, not only was individual creativity old-fashioned but individuals themselves. The crowd was wise. Machines, specifically computers, were no longer tools to be used by human minds – they were better than humans.'

    'DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education is my new book about the future of higher education. It’s a story about the communities of visionaries who are tackling the enormous challenges of cost, access, and quality in higher ed, using new technologies to bring us a revolution in higher learning that is affordable, accessible, and learner-centered.'

    'By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it.'

    'Out of Our Minds is a passionate and powerful call for radically different approaches to leadership, teaching and professional development to help us all to meet the extraordinary challenges of living and working in the 21st century.'

    Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in Connected age explores the potential that we now have given the amount of free time we enjoy. How can we best use that time and what can we achieve through it?

    Chapter 1: Education in the Digital Age

    The 12-minute video lectures that Bill Gates has called “the start of a revolution” will now be linked with the material in some digital textbooks.

    'Formally called Minimally Invasive Education, this innovative methodology was first tested in a slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi, in 1999. The experiment was replicated in two other rural sites in the same year. The first adopter of the idea was the Government of NCT of Delhi. In 2000, the Government of Delhi set up 30 Learning Stations in a resettlement colony. This project is ongoing and continues to create a tremendous impact among generations of young learners.'

    Adam Curtis' series of films about how humans have been colonised by the machines they have built. Although we don't realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. ... What then are the consequences?

    Hundreds of grannies in Newcastle to go online to help children in India with their education, based on the grandmother method -- stand behind, admire, act fascinated and praise. This short video explains how the project emerged and the plans for its future.

    On Friday, September 24, 2010, Google awarded $2 million dollars to Sal Khan for his contribution in educating the world through his math and science videos. His website, Khan Academy is the largest virtual school on the web and it is free. When asked what he was going to do with the money, he explained that he is going to translate the videos into Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese and all the major languages of the world.

    'In Los Altos School District, we are constantly striving to improve instruction to meet the needs of all learners and prepare all K-8 students to thrive in our rapidly changing global community. In the continual quest to improve instruction, we are investigating new instructional delivery models and are currently piloting the use of Khan Academy as a hybrid-learning model in a few math classes across the district (two 5th grade classes, and two 7th grade pre-algebra readiness classes). In our pilot, Khan Academy is being utilized as a complement to our current math program.'

    Indian education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

    'There’s an article in this month’s Wired Magazine about Khan Academy. The headline speaks volumes — “How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education” — as do the responses I’ve seen to the article. As usual, there’s plenty of praise for Sal Khan and his one-man-educational-video-making machine. But there’s also push-back from some quarters, particularly from educators who are highly skeptical of what Khan Academy delivers and what it stands for. ...'

    Chapter 2: Adapting to Radical Change

    'How has the most revolutionary innovation of our time - the Internet - transformed our world? What does it mean for the modern family? How has it changed our concepts of privacy? Of celebrity? Of love, sex and hate? ... ' Guardian journalist Aleks Krotoski explores the answers in her blog.

    'Over the last 20 years the web has changed the world, but what, if anything, has it done to us? Take part in a unique experiment to discover the impact the web is having on our brains, and discover which species of web animal you are. ...'

    'Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. This policy is non-negotiable and all editors and articles must follow it. ...'

    In a bid to capture some of the many eyeballs that will be trolling through Royal Wedding footage following the April 29 event, Flickr has launched a group and contest to crowdsource related photographs from around the world.

    Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in Connected age explores the potential that we now have given the amount of free time we enjoy. How can we best use that time and what can we achieve through it?

    'With a Little Help is my first serious experiment in self-publishing. I’ve published many novels, short story collections, books of essays and so on with publishers, and it’s all been very good and satisfying and educational and so on, but it seems like it’s time to try something new. ...'

    Cory Doctorow explains why he has decided to give his books away for free.

    An interesting twist on collaborative/crowdsourced music making. 4x4 grid of YouTube video screen each playing a variation on Bb. Play 1, 2 or more to create your own 'mix'. Adjust the volume as you wish. 

    Cory Docotorow offers some excellent advice on writing: 'The biggest impediment to concentration is your computer's ecosystem of interruption technologies: IM, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype rings, etc. Anything that requires you to wait for a response, even subconsciously, occupies your attention. Anything that leaps up on your screen to announce something new, occupies your attention. ... By all means, schedule a chat — voice, text, or video — when it's needed, but leaving your IM running is like sitting down to work after hanging a giant "DISTRACT ME" sign over your desk, one that shines brightly enough to be seen by the entire world.'

    Chapter 3: Towards Participation

    Information and educational resources on Ofcom's promotion of Media Literacy.

    Report from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

    A new research project by the Open University explores the much-debated concept of “the digital native”. The university does this by making full use of the rich resource which is its own highly diverse student body. It concludes that while there are clear differences between older people and younger in their use of technology, there’s no evidence of a clear break between two separate populations.

    The debate on digital natives and digital immigrants.

    Much-debated article by Prensky on the disctinction between digital natives and digital immigrants.

    'Futurelab is an independent not-for-profit organisation (registered charity number 1113051) committed to developing creative and innovative approaches to education, teaching and learning. We achieve this through a mixture of research, events, school development and resources across the UK and internationally.'

    'In the last forty years the Internet has grown from an arcane and specialized academic service to the sophisticated global network of networks we see today: during this period the complexity of its societal implications has become ever more obvious, as well as the many ways it shapes our lives. Grounded in a determination to measure, understand and explain the Internet's multi-faceted interactions and effects, our research projects bring together some of the best international scholars within a multi-disciplinary department in one of the world's top research universities. We are committed to being an informed, independent and nonpartisan source of the highest quality analysis and insight in all our research and policy-related activities.'

    'Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out fills this gap, reports on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings—at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. By focusing on media practices in the everyday contexts of family and peer interaction, the book views the relationship of youth and new media not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults that frame the experience of youth in the United States.'

    The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins, influential media scholar exploring the worlds of fandom, education and media.

    Dubbed "the explainer" by Wired magazine, Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society. His videos on culture, technology, education, and information have been viewed by millions, translated in over 15 languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide.

    Chapter 4: Choosing and Using Digital Technologies

    'The importance of recognising youth media in school curriculum development is now advocated within educational policy and research, with compelling examples of school practices emerging. This report by the DML Working Group puts the school curriculum and youth media in the context of decentralisation in education systems and the growth of networks in social and economic life.'

    Whilst this article focusses on social media, it is a good resource for thinking through the adoption of any technology for the classroom.

    'Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.'

    'Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning. ...' Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.

    'I was recently asked if I had written anything on the history of the VLE (aka MLE) in UK schools. As it happened, I had a half-completed paper, based on a presentation that I made last year. Although I did not (purposely) mention ePortfolios within the VLE document, I thought that some readers might be entertained by my personal account of the evolution, or even revolution, that the introduction of the VLE has gone through over the last 30 years. ...'

    Interesting slide show suggesting fifty ways that the VLE could be used more effectively.

    'Around the world nomenclature for the LMS/VLE/CLE/CMS shifts and changes between various product offerings and regional dialects. This diffusion of terminology comes from different educational practices and implementations of products as well as the unique combination of features emphasized by different software authors. Of the terms available I am partial to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This term seems able to include a wide variety of use cases while at the same time focusing on the critical elements of purpose, place and construction (learning, virtual, and environment respectively). I think of the VLE as the transmitter and it immediately creates a receiving environment called the Personal Learning Environemtn (PLE). ...'

    Sociologist, commentator and author of Culture of Fear, Where Have All The Intellectuals Gone?, Paranoid Parenting, Therapy Culture, and On Tolerance: In Defence of Moral Independence.

    Education innovations for you to discover and share. New education practice, technology and resources selected from the best of the web and updated daily.

    Articles in this series examine how a deluge of data can affect the way people think and behave.

    Chapter 5: Making, Sharing, and Connecting with Digital Technologies

    Accompanying website to Gauntlett's book. Full of great ideas, videos and links to further resources.

    'Current neuroscience research confirms what creatives intuitively know about being innovative: that it usually happens in the shower. After focusing intently on a project or problem, the brain needs to fully disengage and relax in order for a “Eureka!” moment to arise. It’s often the mundane activities like taking a shower, driving, or taking a walk that lure great ideas to the surface. Composer Steve Reich, for instance, would ride the subway around New York when he was stuck.'

    Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

    '"Ushahidi", which means "testimony" in Swahili, was a website that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. Since then, the name "Ushahidi" has come to represent the people behind the "Ushahidi Platform". Our roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis. The original website was used to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phones. This website had 45,000 users in Kenya, and was the catalyst for us realizing there was a need for a platform based on it, which could be used by others around the world.'

    'Wikipedia, that growing, user-created online encyclopedia, is the poster child for Web 2.0 and is fostering a sea change in ideas about the credibility and value of information, products and services. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Since it has emerged on the scene in 2001, Wikipedia seems to have already gone through Schopenhauer’s “stages of truth” in the general public’s mind. More than a million people a day visit the site.'

    'It's high time people stopped kvetching about Wikipedia, which has long been the best encyclopedia available in English, and started figuring out what it portends instead. For one thing, Wikipedia is forcing us to confront the paradox inherent in the idea of learners as "doers, not recipients." If learners are indeed doers and not recipients, from whom are they learning? From one another, it appears; same as it ever was.'

    ;YouTube.com/Teachers was created to help teachers use educational YouTube videos to educate, engage and inspire their students. We know how busy teachers can be so we've worked with a group of teachers to put together playlists of partner videos that align with common core standards.'

    The "7 Things You Should Know About..." series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning practices and technologies. Each brief focuses on a single practice or technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use "7 Things You Should Know About..." briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues.

    The 5 Basic Rules of Script Frenzy are as follows: 1. To be crowned an official Script Frenzy winner, you must write a script (or multiple scripts) of at least 100 total pages and verify this tally on ScriptFrenzy.org. 2. You may write individually or in teams of two. Writer teams will have a 100-page total goal for their co-written script or scripts. 3. Script writing may begin no earlier than 12:00:01 AM on April 1 and must cease no later than 11:59:59 PM on April 30, local time. 4. You may write screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comic book and graphic novel scripts, adaptations of novels, or any other type of script your heart desires. 5. You must, at some point, have ridiculous amounts of fun.

    Chapter 6: The Impact of Digital Network Technologies on Teaching and Learning

    The UK Council for Child Internet Safety brings together over 170 organisations and individuals from government, industry, law enforcement, academia and charities, including parenting groups. Our aim is to work in partnership to keep children and young people safe online.

    James Paul Gee is one of the better-known experts in games in learning. This interview by Henry Jenkins is short but useful. Here's Gee: "The principles of "good games" and of "good learning" are the same, by and large. This is so, of course, because games are just well designed problem-solving spaces with feedback and clear outcomes and that is the most essential thing for real, deep, and consequential learning."

    Computer games have introduced a new grammar, totally foreign to those who have only focused on creating or studying books, movies, or traditional courses. Today, Serious Games can be used to develop conviction and competence, through the increased use of engagement, practice, emotion, and richer content. When I design or judge sims and other serious games, especially sims that are expected to be stand-alone, this is on what I focus.

    Constance Steinkuhler, a games and learning scholar, discusses her firsthand experiences in seeing how youth-centered learning and online gaming leads to compelling turnarounds in youth engagement.

    "7 Things You Should Know About... Social Bookmarking" addresses a community—or social—approach to identifying and organizing information on the Web. Social bookmarking involves saving bookmarks one would normally make in a Web browser to a public Web site and "tagging" them with keywords. The community-driven, keyword-based classifications, known as "folksonomies," may change how we store and find information online.

    Edutopia blogger Lisa M. Dabbs wraps up a five-week 'new teacher boot camp' with this article about an Argentinian teacher using blogs to support learning. "Blogging," she writes, "is a wonderful way to motivate our students to write. Students can share their stories, thoughts and reflections on their blogs. Writing for a real and global audience makes blogging an engaging and meaningful experience. Blogging has made a difference for my students. Their writing and reading skills have improved significantly." There's a video and examples on the site.

    'This paper documents how children embed multimodality in their journal entries using blogs. Multimodality is the combination of semiotic modes that may include spoken language(s), written language(s), static or moving images and music. Each of them generally offers opportunities for the construction of meaning. In this research, a case study approach was employed to gain an in-depth understanding of multimodality and meaning-making. The data is collected using classroom observations, textual analysis of similar journal topics posted by the participants, and informal interviews, or, online responses to the comments posted by the teacher, to the pupils in their entries which take the form of blog posts. Findings of this investigation suggest a need to redesign learning to allow everyone to cope with multimodality as a new form of literacy.'

    'Young people do, and they might just care about privacy more than the adults who care for them. That's what I pick up (with all caveats r.e. my reading between lines as well as on them) from the fascinating research on late teens and privacy that danah boyd has published with Estzter Hargittai ...'

    'If you’ve ever visited a website that handles even the smallest bit of your personal information, there’s a good chance (hopefully) that it’s asked you to read through a privacy policy or two. Rather than pour over the details, many of us simply click on ‘I AGREE!’ and proceed with using the application. Even the companies and websites involved understand this and make it as easy as possible to satisfy lawyers as well as users. ...' What’s the harm in essentially ignoring that privacy policy? While the majority of the time it’s harmless, there are some ne’er-do-wells that may gather your personal information and sell it to marketers, advertisers, or spammers. While terrible, it’s not unheard of.

    By CBSNews (CBS) The simple request for PRIVACY PLEASE sounds almost quaint in the age of full body scans and Facebook. And even for those intent on maintaining their privacy . . . pitfalls abound. Our Cover Story is reported now by Erin Moriarty of "48 Hours":

    Chapter 7: Moving Forwards and Final Words

    'Beyond Current Horizons explores the future for education, beyond 2025. The aim is to help our education system prepare for and develop an ongoing and sustainable response to the challenges it faces as society and technology rapidly evolve. Find out more about the research and outcomes of this extensive programme. ...'

    A ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators

    This post discusses how to build your own Personal (or Professional) Learning Network. Instead of starting by telling you which tools to use, I want to talk about why you would do this in the first place….

    Will Richardson explains the importance of personal learning environments for twenty first century skills in this short video.

    An excellent mind map using MindMeister to show the interlinked areas of personal learning networks.

    “Using personal learning networks for your own professional development” Curated by Sue Beckingham.

    In a valuable article in the recent Independent School magazine, Wendy Drexler, a former independent school educator who is now directing online learning at Brown University, offers advice on facilitating students in shaping their personal learning environments.

    Tutorial designed to develop internet research skills.

    Crap Detection 101: How to tell accurate information from inaccurate information, misinformation, and disinformation. Links, resources and videos from Howard Rheingold.