Using Technology for Social Change: Who’s Working to Change the Future?

The university where I pursue a doctorate degree, Walden University, provides a Mission for its distance learners, who are for the most part, working in professional careers: To provide the “opportunity to transform themselves as scholar-practitioners so they can effect positive social change” (Walden, 2016). So, social change is woven into each course.

And, the research priorities of Walden University also orbit around social change. As part of a 2013 Social Change Impact Report, researched and provided by Walden in partnership with the research firm, Harris Interactive ,  a quiz entitled “What kind of a social change agent are you?” was developed to help any individual understand the world view, habits and outlook which govern use of personal time for social change projects. Take the quiz! You can pinpoint your own contributions and attitudes toward social change!

Six categories classify social change agents:

  • Ultracommitted Change-Maker
  • Faith-inspired Givers
  • Socially Conscious Consumer
  • Purposeful Participants
  • Casual Contributors
  • Social Change Spectators

After reading the descriptions of change agents, I saw myself as an Ultracommitted Change-Maker because I dedicate my life to leading a positive change in early childhood education with my unique family child care program, Poplarhaven Children’s House (PCH). I want the foundation of early childhood experience and education, contributed to by PCH’s program, to be strong and supportive of emotional and cognitive success for children, and to contribute to each child’s reaching her full human potential. I also believe, in the words of David Cavallo (Laureate, 2012), that “a sound education for everybody is the basis for a just, equitable, and democratic society.” My feelings of commitment to social change motivated me to provide a program for the care and educational of young children, while Dr. Cavallo’s commitment motivated him to create an organization,  One Laptop Per Child, which provides rugged, and world opening laptop computers, designed by Cavallo’s gathered experts, to 2.4 million (so far) of the world’s most impoverished children. We each contribute at our level, and in our own way, but I consider myself to be ultacommitted.

However, the quiz on social change categorized me as a Faith-Inspired Giver. My frequent church attendance, and the fact that at the heart of my social change drive is my agreement with my religion’s commitment to education and belief in the high potential of each precious human being, have put me into this category. According to statistics from the 2013 Social Change Impact Report, only 23% of faith-based respondents were motivated by websites in their social change initiatives. My faith,  however, has made use of innovative technology for its service initiatives, producing the longest continuously running network broadcast (1929 until now) in the world, Music and the Spoken Word, and the inventor of television himself, Philo T. Farnsworth was a Church member. Also, the electric guitar, the traffic light, artificial heart transplant surgery, digital sound and movie technology, the hearing aid, and the odometer were all invented by members of my faith. So Faith Inspired Givers from my religion just might look more like Ultracommitted Change-Makers in our technology use for social change!

Educational technology’s impact on the way learning is negotiated by teachers and learners will, of course, increase. Naturally, younger people who do most of their learning on topics of interest through the internet will grow a little older and become teachers. Then, for sure, technology use will increase. However, even now, innovations are overtaking teaching methods and priorities practiced historically. David Thornberg (Laureate, 2012)made the obvious point that it is not logical to memorize facts (about birds for example) which can be looked up online in five seconds. Also, according to the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition, several technology tools, or innovative ways of using existing tools, have entered or will in a few short years be ready to enter students’ learning environments. Workplaces and schools have implemented policies of encouraging employees and students to BYOD – Bring Your Own Device, realizing that the applications on a personal electronic device help the owner to be more efficient, and productive. Combining the tools on each person’s personal device with the resources of a school or workplace increases positive, productive output. The makerspace provides physical and electronic tools for physical creation of the “objects” (robots, computer games, cooling fans etc.) people envision, and at least one California middle school library has been transformed into a makerspace. Also, Adaptive Learning Technologies which use artificial intelligence technology to track and adjust to students preferences and current abilities for one-on-one adaptive instruction and learning; 3-D PrintingDigital Badges (taking Behaviorism digital);  and Wearable Technology included in eye-wear, jewelry, or even shoes for tracking the activities of daily life, are all technological innovations now in use or soon to be used in schools.

So, with different types of social change agents, and technological innovations as tools, who do I feel would be the best type of change agent in implementing wonderful technological innovations into my early childhood program? Ultracommitted Change-Makers are already “plugged into technology” and also have an online network of other social changers who share their lifelong passions for helping others. They are the obvious first choice for helping implement communication or other innovative technologies, appropriate to the early childhood environment, into PCH’s program. Social Change Spectators, uncommitted to social change, and not seeing their actions as making any impact for good, would be the least useful change agents, no matter what change is undergoing implementation.

As a Faith-Inspired Giver, with a good attitude toward technological intervention (which is shared by my religious organization), I have already entered a path to step up my innovation in all areas of my life by heavily pursuing a PhD in Instruction, Learning, and Innovation. If learning so much about innovation is my first step to adjusting my approach to bringing about social change in my early childhood program, graduating with my PhD is the second step. When I graduate, I will have so much more freedom to implement the innovative ideas which flood my mind, but have not yet been carried forward due to lack of time. Time to move away from the computer, in use for PhD study only, is the adjustment that will bring real innovation to my early childhood program. I can’t wait!

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7 thoughts on “Using Technology for Social Change: Who’s Working to Change the Future?

  1. Paula, I enjoyed reading your post! I love that you included some innovations that people who would be considered “faith-inspired giver” created. I think this was a great exercise that helped us to reflect on ourselves as well as those around us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Paula,
    Thank you for such a thorough posting. It has been a pleasure working with you this quarter; I have learned new insights from your discussion postings. As it relates to this discussion, how might educators overcome challenges incorporating new technology in the classroom? Many senior educators have a difficult time with adjusting and making changes to their lesson plans, which prevents innovative experiences for students.
    Shamanie
    2/10/16

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shamanie,
      It is hard to change the way you do something when you have a habit! My mom refuses to use Facebook. I tell her, it is easier than changing the T.V. with the remote! You can see pictures of my children and what we are doing all the time! I can send you messages in a moment, and you could do the same! She just refuses to give it a try, assuming she won’t be able to understand it (?)

      One thing that needs to change with parents and educators is equating “new” screen media technology with traditional television, and automatically assuming it’s time wasting. Interactive, Web 2.0 based, or other technology tools are not passive T.V.’s but can actually be more stimulating of higher level thinking than a classroom lesson by a teacher itself. These are almost unimaginably powerful tools in the hands of a caring and skilled teacher!

      It has been a pleasure to interact with you, Shamanie!

      Like

  3. Hi Paula,
    You mentioned that you are a “faith inspired giver with a good attitude toward technological interventions”. My school is a religious school and many stakeholders are motivated by faith. However, the early childhood program is not always included in regards to technological innovations. I am constantly explaining how important it is for young children to learn tech skills in school.

    Like

    1. Hi Francesca,
      I think that the passive nature of television watching has many early childhood educators sticking to earlier decisions not to incorporate technology into their environments. But, new interventions are so interactive, and there are so many amazing and wonderful resources for people of all ages now! I love what many students and teachers are doing now with “code.” I have seen activities documented on television. Are you familiar with having children program computers using “code?”

      Like

  4. Great post Paula!. Implementing technology has been a challenge for years and I am quite surprise the struggles continues. What are you thoughts on why a more rapid change has not taken place with educators?

    Patrenia

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    1. Hello Trey,
      I think technology implementation is having a hard time infiltrating schools for two reasons. First, teachers who have been teaching a certain way for years or decades need to change so much, even their core curriculum goals, to accommodate not only using the new technology, but what using the new technology means about the content of their teaching (such as 21st century information finding skills rather than individual subject area items to memorize). Second, I think there is still a negative attitude toward technology which equates it with the passive and non-higher-level-thinking going on during TV watching, and so they see little value to incorporating it in their classrooms.

      Thanks so much for your question!

      Like

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