Humanities Explainer Video

In order to support 21st century students, technology and innovation must be a part of instruction to engage students. As technology continues to grow at an astronomical pace, teachers must stay current on incorporating technology into instruction.

Create a 3-5 minute explainer video to inform fellow teachers about three appropriate media and technology resources that support content, skill development, and engage and support the learning of all students, and how they can relate to humanities content areas.

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Include the following for each resource in your video:

· Summary of the resource, including links and relevant information needed to access it

· How the resource will support content and skill development, particularly in humanities

· How the resource will engage students and support learning

· How the resource will foster innovation and problem solving

In addition, submit a one-page outline summarizing the information in your video.

Support your findings with a minimum of three scholarly references.

Submit your summary, video links, and references on the “Explainer Video Template.”

While APA style format is not required for the body of this assignment, solid academic writing is expected, and in-text citations and references should be presented using documentation guidelines, which can be found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.

This assignment uses a rubric. Review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.




Danielle Herro

Sustainable Innovations: Bringing Digital Media and Emerging Technologies to the Classroom

Because traditional schools struggle to effec-

tively understand, implement, and sustain digital

learning initiatives, innovating with digital media

in classrooms is a difficult endeavor. Prac-

titioners need examples to better understand

conditions necessary to move forward with

digital media and learning (DML) in schools.

This article provides examples and supports

research proposing that context and culture

matter when innovating in schools. Three class-

room cases using Web 2.0, app development, and

game design are discussed, offering educators a

pathway to consider similar pedagogical and

participatory approaches to foster learning.

Classroom contexts, teachers’ perspectives, dis-

trict supports, technical requirements, and

scalability are highlighted. The examples suggest

innovative DML initiatives can flourish within

schools when participants are mindful of context

and when a participatory culture is supported

(Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, &

Weigel, 2006).

INNOVATION WITH digital media to promotelearning in schools is fraught with challenges. Prohibitive policies, inadequate infrastructure,

curriculum requirements, and insufficient pro-

fessional development limit teacher and student

digital media and learning (DML) experiences

(Collins & Halverson, 2009). The structure of

schooling with teacher-directed, inflexible blocks

of time runs counter to openly networked,

participatory practices enabled by digital media

(Fahser-Herro & Steinkuehler, 2009). Limited

support and embedded, industrial-age practices

like standardized instruction taught in discrete

chunks of time, common to schools, thwart

innovation and change (Cuban, 2001; Ertmer,

2005; Shaffer, 2006).

Research and models toward sustainable

DML practices suggest pathways for scalable

Danielle Herro is an assistant professor of Digital

Media and Learning at Clemson University.

Correspondence should be addressed to Professor

Danielle Herro, Eugene T. Moore School of Education,

Clemson University, 205 Tillman Hall, Clemson, SC

29634. E-mail:

Color versions of one or more of the figures in the

article can be found online at


Theory Into Practice, 54:117–127, 2015

Copyright q The College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University

ISSN: 0040-5841 print/1543-0421 online

DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2015.1010834




innovations that can happen in schools. The

Consortium for School Networking (2014)

engaged in MacArthur funded research selected

13 innovative school districts detailing policies,

practices, challenges, and successes using digital

media for learning. The resulting whitepaper

suggested that to scale technological innovation

educators must (a) consider the context of

innovations, and (b) make a commitment to

shift classroom culture. It argued that sustainable

innovations must be supported by broad commu-

nity participation, ranging from policy changes to

professional development and collaborative

partnerships (Chamberlain et al., 2013).

Context, or circumstances unique to each

classroom, must be accounted for when con-

sidering ways to innovate. Tightly prescribed

reform models are often ineffective, as they fail to

consider teachers’ daily classroom conditions.

“One-size-fits-all educational innovations do not

work because they ignore contextual factors that

determine an intervention’s efficacy in a particu-

lar local situation” (Clarke & Dede, 2009,

p. 353). To enact meaningful, scalable change,

schools must consider the operational context and

identify what works for them based on their needs

and environment. Coburn (2003, as cited in Clark

& Dede, 2009) proposed four interrelated

dimensions that encompass meaningful reform,

summarized as:

Depth: deep, consequential changes in

classroom practice and curriculum altering

teachers’ beliefs;

Sustainability: maintaining changes over time;

Spread: diffusing the innovation to other

classrooms and schools; [and]

Shift: districts, schools, and teachers assuming

ownership of the innovation spreading the

impact. (p. 354)

In a similar vein, Songer, Lee, and McDonald

(2003) discussed scaling innovation through an

approach using “maverick” teachers (p. 495).

They described how interested and technologi-

cally savvy teachers may be early adopters

(mavericks) who can customize innovation to fit

their needs without extensive guidance and

adequate support. However, to scale innovations

systemic support and the capacity to adapt the

innovation to the local context are necessary,

and this often requires assistance from other

teachers, district administrators, or local


Recognizing that context matters is an

important, first step in proposing, driving, and

sustaining innovation. It takes vision, planning,

support, and commitment considerate of the

local reality to reform beliefs and practices with


Culture plays another significant role in

transforming classrooms with digital media.

Learners of all ages now participate in technol-

ogy-mediated, social and cultural communities to

share, support, and refine expertise. Jenkins et al.

(2006) defined this participation as a “participa-

tory culture” which includes “relatively low

barriers to expression, strong support for creating

and sharing with one another, informal member-

ship in which experience is passed to novices, and

members believing their contributions matter”

(pp. 5–6).

This article presents three innovative class-

room cases offering students opportunities to

learn through Web 2.0 tools, apps, and games,

drawing on teacher perspectives to understand

sustainability. Classroom contexts, teachers’

perspectives, district-level supports, technical

requirements, and scalability are highlighted.

I offer a framework not for particular tools but,

instead, to promote sustainable practices through

broad pedagogical approaches and participation

in a supportive, visionary culture.

Two overarching ideas presented provide a

basis for this article: being mindful of context

(Clarke & Dede, 2009) and offering opportunities

for involvement in a participatory culture with

DML matters when innovating with digital media

in schools (Jenkins et al., 2006). The article

concludes by discussing the context and culture

common among the cases proposing what

teachers might do to foster innovation within

their classrooms.

Digital Media and Learning




Case 1: Integrating Web 2.0 Tools in a Social

Studies Curriculum

Classroom Context

This case includes 2 teachers, Jill and Barbara,

and 37 students in 2 eighth-grade suburban

classrooms participating in a 9-week technology-

laden social studies curriculum asking students to

explore various perspectives on a global topic.

Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and social bookmarks

facilitated topic investigation and discussion. The

curriculum was cowritten by the teachers and the

District’s Instructional Technology Administra-

tor (ITA). For 9 weeks, the ITA supported

teachers and students through curriculum revi-

sion, coteaching, and general classroom tasks.

Topics included global issues such as going

green, cloning, animal testing, war, healthcare

reform, and the death penalty. Learning objec-

tives targeted social studies standards, and were

aligned with district-sanctioned English language

arts and technology standards. Criteria sheets and

rubrics directed students and provided guidelines

for formative and summative assessments. Class

was conducted in 2 middle school computer labs,

and consisted of daily, 55-minute lessons.

Students could choose the elective course, with

75% of approximately 150 students across both

sites electing to enroll during an academic


Teachers provided content on teaching blogs,

acted as guides or facilitators more often than

engaging in direct instruction, and allowed

students choice in content and aesthetics for

their media creation. Group decision-making and

content sharing were encouraged. Students

created blogs after researching the issue, and

presented evidence citing the pros and cons of the

controversy with images, polls, and hyperlinks to

support reasoning. A screenshot representing a

typical blog is shown in Figure 1.

Students further supported their viewpoints by

creating podcasts role-playing stakeholders such

as famous scientists debating animal testing in

a radio news show, interviewing professors

discussing the pros and cons of cloning, or a

game show featuring contestants answering

questions about “going green.”

Teacher Perspectives

In this case, both teachers believed that digital

tools shifted their role away from “teachers

modeling technology” to “teachers facilitating

learning.” Barbara said she moved beyond

teaching research (retrieval) on the Internet or

simply providing step-by-step instructions, to

being flexible with new technologies; Jill

believed her role shifted from teacher-directed

to teacher-facilitated technology instruction.

District Support

Two primary district-level provisions allowed

this curriculum to move forward. First, a DML

support group called the Tech Cabinet was

developed, consisting of the Director of Instruc-

tion, Network Manager, Instructional Technol-

ogy Administrator, Library Media Specialist and

teachers. The Tech Cabinet was charged with

supporting teachers’ integration of digital learn-

ing. For example, teachers wanting to integrate a

digital game into their curriculum proposed it

to the Tech Cabinet seeking technical support,

demonstrating curriculum alignment, and

suggesting professional development for others.

The Tech Cabinet ensured that necessary

decision-makers moved ideas forward.

In addition, policies were rewritten allowing

students to access typically blocked Internet sites,

in turn compelling technical services to open sites

required for topic exploration, e.g., Google

accounts, Wikipedia, and YouTube. At times,

this required informing or asking permission

of the School Board, parents, or community.

Rethinking policy was key in allowing techno-

logical innovation and then aligning practices

(Chamberlain et al., 2013, p. 7).

Technical Requirements

With the exception of adequate broadband to

download YouTube videos, technical require-

ments were minimal. Computer labs existed in

Herro Sustainable Innovations




each school and nominal bandwidth was required

to access digital tools. Social media and web sites

utilized included Google Docs, Blogger, Deli-

cious, Audacity, and Wikispaces. Twenty iPods

were purchased via reallocated district funds

(typically spent updating hardware) allowing

students to check out devices and peer-review

podcasts at home.


To extend teaching and learning and promote

innovation, Jill and Barbara delivered content on

blogs, acted as facilitators more often than using

direct instruction, and allowed students creativity

and choice in content and aesthetics. Group

decision-making and content sharing was encour-

aged. In turn, students tremendously engaged in

the tasks, accessed tools from home and school,

and met expectations on criteria-aligned assign-

ments. Some students expanded their learning

outside of school, mixing music with Audacity or

creating personal blogs or podcasts.

The proposed pilot course was considered so

successful it was expanded the next year scaling

to six, versus four, sections at each school; the

classes filled to capacity. Furthermore, course

teachers immediately extended the tools and

learning to their other courses, integrating social

bookmarks, blogging, and podcasting units in

fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-grade classrooms. They

offered professional development and created

onsite, summer graduate courses for their

colleagues. Although the course eventually

became required, the District’s intention was to

embed the tools and teaching across curricular

areas making the elective course unnecessary.

Figure 1. Screenshot of Student-Created Blog.

Digital Media and Learning




Case 2: Supporting a Traditional Science

Curriculum With App Development

Classroom Context

Delaney has been teaching eighth-grade

science for 8 years in a mid-sized suburban,

Southern city. Beginning in 2013, Delaney

utilized MIT App Inventor (http://appinventor. to support a 4-week, 12-lesson fossil

unit in science. The approximately 25 students in

each of the three eighth-grade science classes in

which the unit was taught represented a range of

abilities and socio-economic backgrounds.

Students learned about fossils as part of a rock

unit informed by state science standards.

Essential questions guided research regarding

fossil formation, and students ultimately designed

a story-telling app demonstrating understanding

of their investigations. Apps were designed with

images, buttons, and text providing users with

answers to questions such as “How do fossils

form?” or “Where are fossils found?” or “What

are the different types of fossils?” At the end of

the 12 lessons, each student planned (via

storyboarding), designed, play-tested, and revised

an app. Figures 2 and 3 provide an example of a

student-created app.

Teacher Perceptions

Delaney discovered app creation while attend-

ing a 2-day workshop focused on MIT App

Inventor, hosted by a local university.

In conversations during planning sessions before

the unit, she expressed excitement over bringing

interest-based learning to her classroom citing

media use by her previous eighth-grade students

as motivating, social, and production-oriented.

Throughout the unit, Delaney reminded her

students that creating apps was novel; she

encouraged collaborative learning and made

changes and improvements as the unit


Delaney believed that engaging in the unit

assisted students in thinking critically about the

content (fossils) while designing and solving

problem when creating apps. She thought it

provided a foundation for students to consider

courses or careers involving visual programming.

During the unit, Delaney created numerous

instructional materials supporting learning,

made revisions, and committed to reteach the

unit the following year in her classroom and other

District classrooms. She frequently commented

on being flexible and embracing change with

digital media.

Figure 2. Screenshot of Student’s App in Designer View Using MIT App Inventor. Used with permission.

Herro Sustainable Innovations




District Support

The school is part of a large county district

consisting of 83 schools. Technologically pro-

gressive by today’s standards, the district’s

students were encouraged to bring their own

devices, and the district adopted Google Apps for

Education and Edmodo (https://www.edmodo.

com/) across 18 middle schools and 14 high

schools. The district web page encouraged using

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for communi-

cation. Although Internet filtering was common,

the district allowed limited access or unblocks

educationally valuable web sites. Policies encour-

aged responsible use, and the district provided

technology coaches, extensive on-site pro-

fessional development, and workshops facilitat-

ing technology innovation. Its innovative culture

included supportive policies, a district commit-

ment to using social media, and teacher


Technical Requirements

Before implementing the curriculum, district

technicians downloaded MIT App Inventor on 28

school-owned laptop computers. An important

component of building an app is play-testing the

in-progress app, so the partnering university

purchased Android tablets, and technical support

ensured Wi-Fi connectivity between the laptops

and tablets.


Delaney intended to scale the MIT App

Inventor unit to other students and classrooms:

(a) reteaching the unit to three classes during the

pilot; (b) offering afterschool workshops to

introduce her colleagues to App Inventor; and

(c) applying for a district-level technology

coaching position hoping to integrate app

creation in other middle school classrooms.

Case 3: A Game Design Curriculum for High

School Students

Classroom Context

In its first year, 174 students at a Midwestern

public high school completed an introductory

Figure 3. Student Coding in Blocks Editor View of MIT App Inventor. Used with permission.

Digital Media and Learning




gaming course designed for students to examine

the history, elements, purpose, and usefulness of

games. The half-credit elective course was

offered in 90-min or 45-min blocks for 9 and 18

weeks respectively. After studying the value of

games in business, military, science, healthcare,

and education, students collaboratively played

and designed games. Criteria and rubrics aligned

to technical education, computer science, digital

literacy, and technological skill proficiencies

determine student success. The instructor scaf-

folded learning in this media-rich course; Google

Apps, Daqri (, The Game

Crafter (,

Kodu (, Scratch

(, and Augmented Reality

Interactive Storytelling (ARIS; http://arisgames.

org/) facilitated communication, problem-sol-

ving, and design work. Peer evaluation and

play-tester feedback guided modifications.

In each course, students had played, designed,

and peer-reviewed a variety of board, digital, and

mobile games. Although student achievement

was undeniably important in measuring success

within any curriculum, the District’s initial focus

was on piloting, revising, and sustaining game-

design and game-play opportunities.

Teacher Perspective

The teacher, James, considered himself a

gamer who understands the value of games to

encourage problem solving and creativity.

He began gaming in elementary school and

continues to investigate and play new games for

personal and educational use. His identity, his

vast experience, and his immersion in gaming

culture influenced his perspective. Throughout

the course, James noted that the appeal of games

encouraged students to produce high-quality

content, and he was pleased with their work.

His students designed a host of multiscreen,

multiplayer games (in Kodu), complex program-

ming (in Scratch), and intricately scripted and

detailed mobile games (in ARIS).

Students’ varying academic performance,

behaviors, scheduling, and technical require-

ments were James’ greatest challenges.

In addition to high-performing students, he

acknowledged that the courses drew a fair

number of students with attention deficit disorder,

mild autism, or behavioral issues. He addressed

the challenges by rethinking collaborative

groups, opening the lab at lunch and after school

to accommodate students needing additional

time, and asking school administrators to use

block scheduling for the course. Issues with

technical support remained an ongoing frustra-

tion especially when new gaming platforms were

introduced. Despite the challenges, James

believed that the course succeeded in teaching

students design, technical, critical thinking, and

collaborative skills.

District-Level Support

The gaming course was supported by a culture

intentionally built by the district 3 years prior to

curriculum implementation. Building the culture

entailed (a) policy changes to review, unblock,

and consider responsible use for all forms of

media; (b) on-site professional development and

graduate courses that discussed technology-

related research and trends; (c) community

involvement and communication with digital

media tools; and (d) directed efforts to pilot and

evaluate content-focused units with embedded

Web 2.0 tools and mobile devices. In all

likelihood, games, as part of formal curricula,

would not have been embraced without this

supportive culture. The district was clearly

committed to innovation demonstrated by their

vision, curriculum writing, and resource and

staffing allocation.

Technical Requirements

Because the course relied on inexpensive or

free web sites, videos, and platforms, start-up

costs, beyond the instructor salary and existing

computer lab, totaled less than $8,000. Initial

expenditures included game controllers, mobile

devices, board games, and game-making supplies

partially funded by a local computer company.

Upgrades or technological advancements in

gaming platforms, tools, or online spaces dictated

Herro Sustainable Innovations




technical changes, at times limiting game and

curricular options.


After the first year, the district continued

expanding learning options by forming after-

school clubs where students built interest-based

games, develop apps, and make community

connections. For instance, a local museum

enlisted student-game designers to build an

augmented reality game for patrons examining

exhibit artifacts, and a public education foun-

dation provided funds for high school game-

designers to create Smartboard games for

younger students. After Minecraft (https://mine- was introduced in a high school

afterschool club, the district extended the

learning to two other middle schools clubs, and

eventually integrated Minecraft within formal


Popular with staff members, community

members, and students, the course was con-

sidered a viable model to use games for learning,

and resulted in developing a second high school

game design course the next academic year.

Focusing on computational thinking practices

and sophisticated design environments, new

course units explore MIT App Inventor, Portal

2 (, and Unity

( as preparation for careers

involving design and systems thinking.

Understanding Context: What Might

Educators Do?

Undoubtedly, moving forward with social

media, app and game design in classrooms

requires forethought and presents challenges. The

teachers outlined in the first two cases were eager

to consider curricular innovation in their class-

rooms, but unskilled in the digital technologies

and integration methods they employed; admit-

tedly the gaming teacher in the third case was

more of a “maverick” (Songer et al., 2003) with a

gaming mindset and experience, but he lacked

resources to write and implement the curriculum.

All of the instances required district-level support

and forethought to match the teachers’ interest

and ability to expertise and resources. Supporting

their interests resulted in increased use and

customization of innovative digital tools for their

classrooms. Increased planning and professional

developed is particularly important for teachers

using highly innovative game or app design

platforms such as MIT App Inventor, Kodu, or

ARIS, which are novel in their use of visual

programming, game-like environments, or inte-

gration with mobile technologies.

The examples herein also demonstrate the

absolute necessity of teachers cognizant of what

might work in their particular setting, whether

tying the innovation to requisite standards,

embedding it within current curriculum, or

offering new courses. The teachers innovated in

ways suited for their particular situation; Jill and

Barbara were comfortable trying numerous Web

2.0 tools; Delaney focused on supporting her

science curriculum with one innovative tool; and

James had expertise and backing to create an

entirely new game-based curriculum using

available games and customizing instructional

materials. District-level entities like Tech Cabi-

net, instructional coaches, and availability of

digital resources further supported their work.

The cases suggest that teachers would benefit

from considering the following when moving

forward with classroom innovations:

1. Take advantage of available district sup-

ports such as instructional coaches and

professional development, as well as

sanctioned tools like Edmodo, Google

Apps for Education, or other digital

resources. Make use of the often available

and underutilized instructional and the

increasingly common onsite professional

development focused on integrating tech-

nology. Share best practices among col-

leagues to offer support to locate, create,

refine, or coteach innovative lessons. Many

school districts facilitate this by creating

online repositories with district-endorsed

available tools, easing technical or policy


Digital Media and Learning




2. Focus on addressing innovation within

particular classroom contexts; with thou-

sands of free and available digital

resources, it is impossible and unnecessary

to understand the affordances of every tool.

Excellent resources are provided online,

including award-winning sites such as

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything

(, organiz-

ations devoted to helping teachers innovate

such as Edutopia (http://www.edutopia.

org/), or trusted educational blogs such as

Mindshift (

or The Tech Savvy Educator (http://www. The sites provide

resources to assist in choosing appropriate

tools that fit with content. Although many

tools can be learned via YouTube videos or

exploration, it is important to note which

digital tools require extensive time or

professional learning before introducing

them to students.

3. Advocate for technical support and polices

allowing access to educationally relevant

sites. Many districts separate technical

support from instruction, resulting in a

lack of common understanding and shared

goals, which hinder instructional progress.

Work with school-level administrators via

informal conversations, ad hoc committees,

or formal “Tech Cabinet” entities as

outlined previously to accelerate innovation

faster and cohesively.

4. Embrace the ever-shifting features in digital

tools. Unlike standard software packages of

the past, frequently updated online tools are

the norm. Students quickly adapt to changes

after learning the basics of digital tools, and

teachers can learn from their students and

accept a mindset of adaptation.

Similar to other successful school districts, the

innovations in these cases spread to other

classrooms and clubs, or extended curricular

opportunities because of supportive district

policies, job embedded professional develop-

ment, or assistance from a local university

(Chamberlain et al, 2013).

Fostering Participation: What Does it

Look Like?

Each case offered a “participatory culture”

(Jenkins et al., 2006, p. 5) that assisted in the

refinement or success of the innovation. Jenkins’

four main principles of a participatory culture,

outlined in the following with examples, offer

teachers a window into the possibilities for


Low Barriers to Expression

Across the cases, teachers and students

experienced “relatively low barriers to

expression” (Jenkins et al., 2006, p. 5) with a

host of available media. Web sites were

unblocked allowing access to Web 2.0 tools,

MIT App Inventor, and games. Digital media was

accessed in and out of school. Likewise, to enact

change and encourage expression with digital

media, teachers can and should familiarize

themselves with student use of media outside of

school and encourage similar skills in school.

Infographic creation, blogging, audio mixes, or

fanfiction writing, which are all readily available

online (and typically free), present low barriers to

learning and expression. For more difficult media

to adopt, such as games or coding programs,

teachers might participate in workshops or

professional development centered on how

these learning tools can foster creativity, design

and production while teaching requisite skills;

students will likely consider the tools “low

barriers to expression.”

Strong Support for Creating and Sharing Creations

The examples showed “strong support for

creating and sharing creations” (Jenkins et al.,

2006, p. 5); teachers encouraged students’

interests, peer review, and sharing of media

online, through portable means (iPods), or within

the community. Collaboration was fostered with

a local museum, during game nights, in online

communities, or in afterschool clubs. Teachers

can and should assist students in forming

Herro Sustainable Innovations




community memberships—online or local—

extending their access to mentors and peers

while supporting student interests and modeling

peer review. Likewise, teachers can share units,

lessons, resources, and student work with one

another, supporting best practices and discussing


Informal Membership

Informal memberships allowed “experience to

be passed to novices” (Jenkins et al., 2006, p. 6)

as evidenced by the teachers’ use of teaching

blogs, peer apprenticeships in student groupings,

teacher workshops, or club events. Teachers in

the cases assisted other teachers, and students

instinctively assisted one another within each

unit. Accessing professional learning commu-

nities such as those found on Twitter or Pinterest,

forming cohorts with interested colleagues, and

committing to sharing best practices fosters and

supports new learning transferable to classrooms.

Membership within these groups centers on

common interests (e.g., enlisting fanfiction to

teach literacy, using iPads for digital storytelling,

or game design to teach STEM skills), where

teachers, students, and others with expertise help

one another achieve goals within informal


Recognizing Contributions

In all three examples, members “believed their

contributions mattered” (Jenkins et al., 2006,

p. 6). The district supported teacher-generated

pilots, encouraged creating units or courses,

offered technical support, and supported pro-

fessional development. Students were encour-

aged to review one another’s work, to bring

forward interests in media creation, and, at times,

to direct the type of media used to expand

learning. The participatory culture assisted in

sustaining and scaling innovation. Teacher-to-

teacher, teacher-to-student, and student-to-stu-

dent feedback, constructive critique, and sugges-

tions for refining work can build a culture within

or beyond classrooms where participants believe

their contributions matter and are worthy of

review and feedback. Additionally, pilot ideas

acknowledging the potential for failure or

refinement allow contributors to safely take

risks while legitimizing the contribution.

Shifting Policy and Practice: A New

Role for Teachers

The teachers frequently discussed their roles

as facilitator versus instructor; each committed to

altering their classroom practice during or after

the initial curriculum or unit was taught. They

adapted to change and implemented new ideas

when reteaching the courses or units. In the first

and third cases, teachers spread the DML

experiences to other district classrooms via

workshops, professional development, or new

course creation. The cases support Coburn’s

(2003) notion that changes in classroom practices

can produce meaningful reform. Teachers altered

their teaching beliefs (depth), maintained the

innovations over time (sustainability), and scaled

(spread) their work to other classrooms. Shift was

less apparent as the innovations noted are in their

infancy, however in each instance there is reason

to believe that shift may occur, as evidenced by

plans to embed Web 2.0 tools across the district.

In the first case, Delaney’s aspiration to become a

technology coach spread the innovation widely,

and James’s expansion of student gaming

practices spurred Minecraft units in other

schools. These cases underscore Chamberlain

and colleagues’ (2013) premise that understand-

ing the context of particular settings, and

situating innovation in supportive, participatory

cultures is imperative for success.

Over the last 15 years, typical educational

polices were primarily focused on “the technol-

ogy” to improve instruction by increasing broad-

band, computers, and technical support (Vrasidas

& Glass, 2005), however, these policies focused

on supporting learning initiatives that would

impact students via embedding innovative digital

technologies and rethinking curricula with new

approaches. The vision was enacted in classroom

practices and impacted learning, as students

became collaborators, creators, and producers.

Digital Media and Learning




In fact, a majority of students met or exceeded

formative and summative assessment criteria for

projects, convincing the districts to expand or

extend programs. Using this “bottom up” and

“top down” approach (Chamberlain et al., 2013,

p. 4) meshed the work of administrators, teachers

and students to encourage innovation, and district

support to carry out the vision. Inarguably, the

work in the classrooms and districts mentioned

herein has just begun, and advanced measures of

student achievement linked to innovation is a

necessary next step.

Final Thoughts

Broadening understanding to innovate with

digital media in classrooms is time intensive and

challenging. Understanding local contexts and

building a supportive, participatory culture helps

ensure deep, consequential, and sustainable

changes. To realize substantial impact with

DML, teachers must consider their situations,

alter beliefs about their roles, commit to

flexibility, rely on learning with and from

students, apprentice one another, and participate

within a broad community.


Chamberlain, A., Dronenm, M., Herro, D., Keen, M.,

Kelley, D., Mathews, A., . . . Bosco, J. (Eds.).

(2013). Seven keys to unlocking school transform-

ation with digital media. Consortium for School

Networking (CoSN), MacArthur Funded white-

paper series.

Clarke, J., & Dede, C. (2009). Design for scalability:

A case study of the River City curriculum. Journal

of Science Education and Technology, 18,


Coburn, C. E. (2003). Rethinking scale: Moving

beyond numbers to deep and lasting change.

Educational Researcher, 32, 3–12.

Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking

education in the age of technology. New York,

NY: Teachers College Press.

Consortium for School Networking. (2014). Retrieved


Cuban, L. (2001). Oversold & underused. Computers

in the classroom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard

University Press.

Ertmer, P. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The

final frontier in our quest for technology integration.

Educational Technology Research and Develop-

ment, 53, 25–39.

Fahser-Herro, D., & Steinkuehler, C. (2009). Web 2.0

literacy and secondary teacher education. Journal

of Computing in Teacher Education, 26, 55–62.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A.,

& Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of

participatory culture: Media education for the 21 st

century. Chicago, IL: MacArthur Foundation.

Shaffer, D. W. (2006). How computer games

help children learn. New York, NY: Palgrave/


Songer, N. B., Lee, H. S., & McDonald, S. (2003).

Research towards an expanded understanding of

inquiry science beyond one idealized standard.

Science Education, 87, 490–516.

Vrasidas, C., & Glass, G. V. (Eds.). (2005). Preparing

teachers to teach with technology. Scottsdale, AZ:

Information Age.

Herro Sustainable Innovations




Copyright of Theory Into Practice is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.


  • Abstract
  • Case 1: Integrating Web 2.0 Tools in a Social Studies Curriculum
    • Classroom Context
    • Teacher Perspectives
    • District Support
    • Technical Requirements
    • Scalability
  • Case 2: Supporting a Traditional Science Curriculum With App Development
    • Classroom Context
    • Teacher Perceptions
    • District Support
    • Technical Requirements
    • Scalability
  • Case 3: A Game Design Curriculum for High School Students
    • Classroom Context
    • Teacher Perspective
    • District-Level Support
    • Technical Requirements
    • Scalability
  • Understanding Context: What Might Educators Do?
  • Fostering Participation: What Does it Look Like?
    • Low Barriers to Expression
    • Strong Support for Creating and Sharing Creations
    • Informal Membership
    • Recognizing Contributions
  • Shifting Policy and Practice: A New Role for Teachers
  • Final Thoughts



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Volume 9 Number 2 77 Summer 2014


Simulations and Games in the Civics Classroom

Christopher D. Moore

Georgia State University


Cheryl Anne Beshke

University of Georgia


Chara Haeussler Bohan

Georgia State University


In this study, the authors evaluate the use of an election simulation game in the middle and high

school social studies classroom. They consider how the game implementation reflected the

practical use of constructivist and constructionist pedagogical principles. A brief explanation of

the literature on the use of technology in social studies classrooms is provided and a practical

explanation of how teachers implemented the game is offered. The ability to connect practice to

theory afforded teachers important grounding and support for the use of technology in the social

studies classroom. Students benefitted from the process of engagement in a form of media that is

natural to digital natives. Challenges, with respect to the practical use of gaming in the social

studies classroom, also are explored.

Keywords: civics, simulations, games, constructivism, constructionism, technology,

practitioner research



Over the past decade, educators have been pushed to integrate technology into the

kindergarten-12 curriculum. In a 2009 issue of Social Education, Editor Michael Simpson noted,

“Young people are fascinated by technology, and teachers who find ways to convert their

students’ favorite devices into vehicles of instruction can look for exciting results” (p. 108). In

2003, researchers Peter Doolittle and David Hicks found there was a direct link to the use of

technology in social studies education within a constructivist theoretical framework. “The

proposition that technology has a role to play in the fulfillment of social studies pedagogy is

undeniable” (p. 86). Yet, somewhere between the unrealized potential for technology and

students’ fascination with it, a sizeable disconnect persists. Technology has not been fully

integrated in the social studies classroom in truly meaningful ways (Lee & Friedman, 2009). In

the most recent Handbook on Research in Social Studies Education, Kathleen Swan and Mark

Hofer (2008) come to this simple but powerful conclusion, “ … the federal government spent at

least $4 billion annually on kindergarten-12 school technology infrastructure. However, despite

these investments, educational technology has not produced the pedagogical revolution in the

kindergarten-12 classrooms” (p. 307).

Teachers who are able to harness technology and make it applicable, relevant, and

interesting to students just might find the “exciting results” that spark a digital revolution in the

classroom (Simpson, 2009, p. 108). Simulations offer one possibility for harnessing technology

to teach critical thinking skills in the social studies classroom. The National Council for the

Social Studies’ (NCSS) most recent position statement on the purpose of social studies



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specifically identifies simulations as a means to think critically about the subject matter:

“Through discussions, debates, the use of authentic documents, simulations, research, and other

occasions for critical thinking and decision making, students learn to apply value-based

reasoning when addressing problems and issues [italics for emphasis]” (National Council for the

Social Studies [NCSS], 2008, para. 20). Simulations have been used in the social sciences since

the early 1960s (Axelrod, 1997). They can be employed for many purposes such as:

entertainment, prediction, and performance, but simulations can also be utilized for education

and scientific discovery (Russell, 2013; Stephen, Feinberg, & Zack, 2013). Within the realm of

education, Robert Axelrod argues, “A simulation need not be rich enough to suggest a complete

real or imaginary world. The main use of simulation in education is to allow the users to learn…

principles for themselves” (p. 2). As the utilization of technology grows, and specifically, as

students become more technologically literate, educators can take advantage of online programs

and simulations. There are many simulations for social studies, such as colonization games for

American history, a stock market game for economics, or a game comparable to Cable in the

Classroom’s ® “eLECTIONS: Your Adventure in Politics” (hereafter known as eLECTIONS),

(2014) designed to help American government students understand political campaigns and the

Electoral College. See Web-Based Resources for the link to the game’s site.


Figure 1. Opening screen of eLECTIONS.


According to the 2010 curriculum standards set forth by NCSS in Standard 10, students should

be able to demonstrate understanding of the purpose of government and the rights and

responsibilities of citizens (NCSS, 2010). Higher order reasoning skills indicate students also

should identify examples of institutions and describe the interactions of people with institutions,



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recognize and practice selected forms of civic discussion and participation consistent with the

ideals of citizens in a democratic republic, and explain actions citizens can take to influence

public policy decisions.

We describe how to implement the use of an election simulation game in the social

studies classroom. We also evaluate the practical implementation of constructivist and

constructionist pedagogical principles for helping students to demonstrate mastery of technology

in a middle school and high school setting. One author is a social studies teacher and one is a

media specialist who implemented the election simulation game in both public and private

middle and high schools in a large urban area in the southeastern United States. The third author

is a social studies education professor at a large urban university located in the southeastern


Learning Theory

In order for teachers to best implement eLECTIONS in classrooms, it is useful to quickly

review the reasons why it is important to use simulations and games in the social studies

classroom. The chief reason to employ these tools can be found in the theory of social

constructivism. As Doolittle and Hicks (2003) defined the terminology, social constructivism is

a theory emphasizing social interaction as a primary source of knowledge. Social constructivism

relies on communication from participants in order to construct meaning. Learning is relative to

the learner. Like constructivism, constructionism, promoted by Seymour Papert (1991), also

relies on the use of context and language to determine what students learn. Constructionism is

predicated upon the idea that students learn when they are actually creating a product. “It then

adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously,” says Papert, “in a context where the

learner is consciously engaged in constructing….” (p. 2). As a pedagogical theory,

constructionism requires students to create or build something such as a project, a set of

software, or a model demonstrating this new knowledge. Students, furthermore, should be given

more freedom to learn in their personal way, not through rigidly defined methods. When

teachers are pressed to use technology, they often turn to slide show programs, such as Microsoft

PowerPoint ® . Yet, PowerPoint

® does not take advantage of the tools available to teachers,

simply conveying the information in an outdated pedagogical style, with a new, flashier

wrapping. This sentiment was echoed by Doolittle and Hicks:

If integrating technology means nothing more than enhancing the traditional delivery

system of social studies content, where laptops replace notebooks for taking notes, where

PowerPoint slides replace handwritten overheads, where e-textbooks replace hard copy

textbooks, then we will be no closer to a vision of transformative, powerful social studies

teaching and learning (p. 75).

Papert’s goal is to have students learning in a way in which technology is the vehicle through

which they create in order to learn. This goal is reiterated in much research about using

technology in the social studies classroom (Doolittle & Hicks, 2003; Lee & Freidman, 2009;

Russell, 2013; Swan & Hofer, 2008; Squire, 2005).

The Use of Technology in Social Studies

In recent years, a continuous push for implementing technology in the social studies

classroom has ensued. Simulations and games are an appropriate means of implementing

constructionist learning theory. Students and teachers, however, can experience a technology

information overload; thus, it is important to steer clear of using technology for technology’s



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sake. In a recent article by Adam Friedman and David Hicks, they discussed the state of

technology in the social studies (2006). After the two conversed about the glut of recent research

on technology in the social studies, they focused on technology integration and teacher

education. Their attitudes toward technology, however, were tempered. As the discussion

continued, Hicks stated:

For a while we were acting like kids in a candy shop. We were excited about the range of

technologies just in reach and how sweet they all looked; yet all they really did was give

us a quick rush and left us feeling a little bloated and overwhelmed. A result of this, I

think, is that the concept of marginal propensity to consume has taken hold with regard to

salivating over the potential of all the different types of digital technologies to reform the

social studies (2006, p. 248).

More research was needed, in regard to how professors were working with pre-service teachers

on incorporating technology, as well as how instructional design furthered learning, Hicks and

Friedman concluded. Not all the research points positively toward the ever-increasing influx of

(and demand for the use of) technology in the classroom. In a study on the problems integrating

technology in the kindergarten-12 classroom, Hofer and Swan (2006), noted there are obstacles

to promoting this incorporation, and “many authors advocate that teachers need to explore this

frontier without models of classroom success, examples of ‘tried and true’ curricula, and

evidence of increased student learning” (p. 86). This notion also is evident in history education

with the push toward the use of primary sources in history classes, where students are supposed

to apply the laws of historical thinking to documents, but teachers are not shown how to access

the documents nor are they shown how to use them online (Barton, 2011; Bohan & Davis, 1998;

VanSledright, 2002; Wineburg, 2001). This point is amplified by Greg Sherman and David

Hicks (2000), who claimed “research continues to suggest that despite the perceived potential of

technology, many social studies teachers are currently reluctant or unable to utilize content

specific uses of technology in their professional practice” (p. 244). Another challenge is

students’ and teachers’ lack of familiarity with the technology, so learning a software program

can take up a great deal of class time. This problem is compounded by many packed state and

local curriculum guides leaving little room for in-depth projects and activities not related to

content standards (Hofer & Swan, 2006). Similar concerns emerged when Gayle Thieman

conducted a five-year study on pre-service teachers and their integration of technology in the

classroom; even if they did make technology skills a part of their pedagogical routine (which a

reported 85% did); she asserted, “There is little evidence that kindergarten-12 students used

technology to support critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making” (2008, p. 342).

Technology and Civics Education

At the time of the 2008 publication of The Handbook of Research in Social Studies

Education, Swan and Hofer found only one article on civics education and technology. Finding

relevant research on simulations and games also proved difficult for Young et al. (2012), who

noted: “No research of this type was identified in our review, suggesting the missing element

may be a more sophisticated approach to understanding learning and game play in the rich

contexts of home and school learning” (p. 84). The lone article found a study published by Tina

Heafner in 2004, which focused on the use of technology to motivate students to learn about the

campaign process. According to Heafner, the teacher selected for this case study had teaching

experience and a Master’s degree in social studies education. She incorporated traditional and



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constructivist pedagogical styles in her instruction. The students, still, were uninterested in

learning about campaigning and the election process, So, Heafner worked with this teacher to

create a computer-based project.

In Heafner’s (2004) research, she found by having students interact with the technology,

they were already more interested in the work assigned to them: “All students reported

enjoyment in the task because technology made their work easier and more fun to complete” (p.

46). Furthermore, students enjoyed working on the project because it allowed them to do neater

work, add graphics, videos, and sound bites, and made the PowerPoint ®

look more

“professional” (p. 46). Students also were able to tap into a skill set they already possessed for

using the computer. Students were familiar with the Internet and other technological elements

used in their presentations. They were not bored, however, by being asked to use the computer

in a way that was remedial and disproportionate to their skills. Students were reported as able to

develop confidence in ability, enjoyment in learning and the opportunity to learn new social

studies information. Because of the creation of student work, the focus of the classroom shifted

from teacher-centered instruction to student-centered instruction as “…technology added value

to social studies instruction by increasing motivation and engaging students in the learning

process” (Swan & Hofer, 2008, p. 313).

Constructivism and Constructionism in Simulations and Games

When Papert (1991) was teaching Logo, a program he and his colleagues created at the

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he found students learned better when they were

given free rein to explore and learn the software on its own as opposed to following pre-planned

instructions. His research led him to believe students’ interest and exploration of a subject,

through technology, in order to create an end product, was a highly effective mode of teaching.

The results of this learning can then be shared, with other students, to enhance learning.

In the social studies classroom, technology resources are available, but woefully

underused or theoretically developed (Doolittle & Hicks, 2003). While Doolittle and Hicks

concentrated on the use of technology in a social studies classroom from a primarily

constructivist platform, the authors “open the door to a constructionist approach with respect to

computer-based simulations… These six pedagogical strategies when adjusted for the

constructionist assertion that learning occurs through designing, building and making an object,

provide a theoretical argument for computer-assisted simulation games” (Feinberg, Schewe,

Moore, & Wood, 2012, p. 422). Simulations and especially video simulations may reach

students who do not enjoy or learn from more ‘traditional’ pedagogical approaches.

Implementation and Game Play

In the March 2012 article, “Our Princess is in Another Castle: A Review of Trends in

Serious Gaming for Education,” Young et al. (2012) recommended that research on video games

should not be generalized but instead focus on this question: “How does a particular video game

being used by a particular student in the context of a particular course curriculum affect the

learning process as well as the products of school (such as test grades, course selection, retention,

and interest)?”(p. 84). We used eLECTIONS as an introductory unit to learning about the

Electoral College, but it also can be used to discuss political parties or the election process. We

implemented this game with students in middle and high schools. One of the main reasons we

were drawn to this game was students’ involvement in creating their own candidates while

giving a realistic, yet simulated, view of a presidential campaign. Students were required to look



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up the basic platforms of both political parties and determine their stance on issues such as

immigration, affirmative action, education, military spending, the economy, and healthcare.

The game facilitated students’ understanding of their own political leanings and allowed

them to select the key issues for their platforms. Students did not have to agree with every

ideological component of their chosen political party but could choose a stance on every key

issue. This political investigation greatly benefited students in their game play by fostering

pragmatic as well as disciplinary knowledge of civics. Game play preparation can be adjusted,

depending on the time, age level, and technological abilities of the students.


Figure 2. Students may choose to concentrate on five major issues for their platform.


Each of Doolittle and Hicks’ (2003) six pedagogical tools incorporating a constructivist

approach to technology can be applied to various aspects of the eLECTIONS game. Cable in the

Classroom ®

provides plenty of options for game play. The game setup demonstrates Doolittle

and Hicks’ first principle: “The construction of knowledge and the making of meaning are

individually and socially active processes” (p.10). Competitors are allowed to play against a

computer, or they can compete against a classmate. If finding enough computers for students is a

concern, students can double-up at one computer or, the teacher can facilitate the game on one

computer through a projector, thus allowing the mock Presidential candidates to be run by teams

of students. If students work as a team, the possibility for collaborative and critical engagement

in discussions increases dramatically. According to Katherine Powell and Cody Kalina (2009),



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“Cooperative learning is part of creating a social constructivist classroom. Students should not

only work with teachers one-on-one, but they should also work with other students. Students

have a lot to offer one another” (p. 244). As the students, playing the role of campaign

managers, make decisions about travel, campaign spending, and responses to events, the game

provides feedback in the form of money and electoral votes gained or lost. Students begin to

understand how choices made during the course of an election campaign affect the outcome.

The game begins as the players choose a slate of five “authentic, real-world” issues, such as:

education, health-care, immigration, and defense, fulfilling Doolittle and Hicks’ third

principle, “The construction of knowledge is fostered by authentic and real-world

environments” (p. 11).

In creating their campaign, students might select topics relevant within their homes and

communities, or prominent in the media. They can choose issues for which they have prior

knowledge or an especial interest, which demonstrates the fourth principle described by Doolittle

and Hicks (2003): “The construction of knowledge takes place within the framework of the

learner’s prior knowledge and experience” (p. 11). In the next step of the game, students decide

the candidate’s standing on each of the chosen issues, refining both the connection to an

authentic, real-world environment and their particular prior knowledge and experience. Once

students have determined the candidate’s standing, a map appears on the screen indicating each

state’s position on political and social issues. These concerns include topics such as healthcare,

education, immigration, and taxes.

Other candidates in the game also have positions on these issues, either assigned by the

computer or by other game players. The game, thus, contains all of the complexities of a real

campaign. Every decision a player makes affects the other candidates as well as his or her own

fundraising and electoral votes. This complex interaction of decisions and outcomes is a perfect

example of Doolittle and Hicks’ (2003) second principle. “The construction of knowledge

involves social mediation within cultural contexts” (p. 11). Students involved in an eLECTION

game must act and react to events and decisions that are not always predictable or under their

control, thus the interaction creates a unique opportunity for constructing knowledge. “The

individual, engaged in socially mediated activity, is transformed or constructed through this

socially mediated activity, just as the social institution is transformed or constructed by the

participation of the individual” (Doolittle & Hicks, 2003, p. 11). The game proceeds as a dial

spins to determine the number of spaces to move on the virtual game board. Players land on

spaces that determine particular scenarios and must choose how to respond.

The fifth principle Doolittle and Hicks (2006) described is also apparent while playing

eLECTIONS, “The construction of knowledge is integrated more deeply by engaging in multiple

perspectives and representations of content, skills, and social realms” (p. 12). With each spin of

the dial, players are exposed to the other candidates’ slate of issues and positions. A teacher

might also assign a group of students to create a candidate with values and positions different

from their own in order to develop a deeper understanding of the electoral process. Playing

eLECTIONS does just what Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil and Katie Salen (2009) recommend:

“An educational game should put players in touch with what is fundamentally engaging about

the subject, should help them build a scaffolding of core concepts, and should motivate them to

go deeper” (p. 32).




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Figure 3. Electoral college map of the U.S.A.


Playing eLECTIONS provides a powerful learning experience for students. Rather than

learning about civics through a traditional lecture format or reading a text and answering

questions, students construct meaning through the process of making autonomous decisions and

reacting to and reflecting upon the feedback provided in the game. This aspect of eLECTIONS

demonstrates Doolittle and Hicks’ (2003) sixth principle, “[t]he construction of knowledge is

fostered by students becoming self-regulated, self-mediated, and self-aware” (p. 12). Playing

repeatedly increases a student’s knowledge and leads to more sophisticated decision-making

through the support of game feedback. The teacher is not a lecturer or a dispenser of knowledge

but rather a facilitator, who can ask guiding questions as students strategize moves or help

students recognize and correct misconceptions. eLECTIONS provides teachers and students the

opportunity to use technology in a way that may transform the teaching and learning process.

Participating in the simulation fosters personal, social, and engaging experiences exemplifying a

constructivist approach to learning. Students develop a sense of ownership for their candidate,

becoming invested in the outcome as they learn about the political parties, the Electoral College,

and key issues in presidential elections.




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Figure 4. An example of a circumstance on the campaign trail and students’ choices to solve the




After the election, students have the opportunity to see the results of their actions through

an itemized list detailing the states in which they campaigned on each turn and the choices they

made along the way. A more telling evaluation of what students learned in the process can be

gained by having discussions in class. Questions, such as the ones below, can begin to help

facilitate discussion:

 How did you choose your party affiliation and key issues? What stance did you take on these issues? Why did you take those particular stances?

 In what states did you campaign the most? How did you determine where to campaign? What problems did you encounter while choosing your campaign trail?

 What were some of the challenges you faced along the way? How did you determine what moves you should make?

 If you played this game again, what would you do differently? Why would you make those changes?

 What did you learn by playing eLECTIONS that you did not know before? Of course, discussion is not the only way to assess learning for eLECTIONS. The English

Language Arts Common Core standards place strong emphasis on writing and social studies

content can support these standards by providing opportunities for students to expound upon



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Volume 9 Number 2 86 Summer 2014


their learning in class. An essay or critique of the game allows students to demonstrate mastery

of content and continue to hone their writing skills across the curriculum.


Using eLECTIONS in the social studies classroom allows teachers to meet students

where their interests are present. Today’s students play video games; send text messages; surf

the Internet; and frequent social networking sites. They are, in Prensky’s terminology, “digital

natives” (2001, para. 5). Presenting these students with an opportunity to learn using technology

engages them. The authentic, real-world environment of eLECTIONS provides a scenario where

critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills can lead to the construction of

meaning. Integrating technology into the curriculum using an online game or simulation like

eLECTIONS does not require valuable time to be spent in learning unfamiliar or complicated

software as the process of playing the game or simulation is intuitive and fun. Most importantly,

working through the game is time well spent for students. No longer is the teacher feeding

students’ knowledge required by the NCSS standards; the students acquire the knowledge

themselves, at their own pace and in their own way.



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Young, M. F., Slota, S., Cutter, A. B., Jalette, G., Mullin, G., Lai, B., Simeoni, Z., Tran, M., &

Yukhymenko, M. (2012). Our princess is in another castle: A review of trends in serious

gaming for education. Review of Educational Research. 82(1), 61–89.





Social Studies Research and Practice




Volume 9 Number 2 88 Summer 2014


Web-Based References

Axelrod, R. (1997). Advancing the Art of Simulation in the Social Sciences. Published in

Rosario Conte, Rainer Hegselmann and Pietro Terna(eds.), Simulating Social Phenomena

(Berlin: Springer, 1997), pp. 21–40. Retrieved from

Cable in the Classroom. (2014). eLECTIONS: Your adventure in politics. [Online game].

Retrieved from

Hofer, M., & Swan, K. O. (2006). Standards, firewalls, and general classroom mayhem:

Implementing student-centered technology projects in the elementary classroom. Social

Studies Research and Practice [Online serial], 1(1). Retrieved from

National Council for the Social Studies. (2008). A vision of powerful teaching and learning in

the social studies: Building social understanding and civic efficacy. National Council for

the Social Studies. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved from


Schwartz, D. (1999). Ghost in the machine: Seymour Papert on how computers fundamentally

change the way kids learn. Retrieved from


Authors’ Bios

Christopher D. Moore is a doctoral student at Georgia State University. His primary research

focus is simulations and games in the social studies classroom. He also teaches high school

social studies in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

Cheryl Anne Beshke earned her educational specialist degree in Language and Literacy

Education at the University of Georgia. She works as a media specialist and also teaches

language arts in an elementary school in the Atlanta area.

Chara Haeussler Bohan is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Georgia State

University. She is the author and editor of several books and more than 60 research articles in

history and social studies education. Email:





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