Technology and multiculturalism: A special issue
New technologies promise to bridge gaps, both geographic and cultural. Few would doubt the immense potential that innovative technologies such as computerbased communication (e.g., e-mail, the World Wide Web) and computer-assisted composition (word-processing, multimedia development) offer education professionals. Over the last two decades, computers, software, and accessible networks have become prominent symbols of advancement and positive change in American public schools. This technology has been developed and disseminated coincidentally with increased discussion about, among other issues, the cognitive theory of construct-ivism and an increased awareness of the need for multicultural studies as a basic component of K-12 and pre-service teacher education. The combination of new communications technologies and new perspectives on cognition and learning offers students an opportunity to explore highly politicized and deeply personal subjects such as religious faith, sexual orientation topics, and inter-ethnic/generational differences (to name but a few).
Many educators (and certainly many computer hardware and software manufacturers) posit that the Internet (specifically the World Wide Web) will allow students to construct very personalized knowledge from the variety of Web-based resources available, that they will make use of educational software to gain exposure to a variety of cultural perspectives at an individualized pace, and that students and teachers alike will benefit from the ability to access and interact with people at a great distance, both geographic and cultural. Whether any of these assertions are true remains to be seen, but case-based evidence suggests that an increasing number of teachers are well into the process of experimenting with integrating these new technologies into their classrooms.
In addition to influencing K-12 schooling contexts, higher education institutions are also examining methods of developing more responsive and effective distance and virtual learning opportunities for post-secondary students. The growing interest in delivering instruction in technologically innovative methods is no doubt driven by a variety of considerations, not the least of which are cost efficiency and an interest in welcoming learners into the academic community who may have previously remained at either a geographic or cultural distance.
Each article selected for this special issue was chosen based on its relevance to the field of multicultural education, practicality for teachers and teacher educators, and innovative rethinking of how technology and multicultural education can be successfully interconnected to positively influence teaching and learning. The editorial team greatly appreciates the contributions the authors have made in helping develop this special issue on technology and multicultural education.
Tim Green is an assistant professor of elementary education, Abbie H, Brown is an associate professor of elementary education, and A,Y, “Fred” Ramirez is an assistant professor of secondary education, all with the College of Human Development and Community Service at California State University, Fullerton. They served as co-quest editors for this special issue of Multicultural Education.
Copyright Caddo Gap Press Winter 2002
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