Intersection Of Social Justice And Educational Technology In Teacher Preparation

Headshot of David Marcovitz

Guest Expert: Dr. David Marcovitz

About Dr. Marcovitz

The guest expert of this CIDDL Research and Practice Brief is Dr. David Marcovitz. Dr. Marcovitz is a Professor of Educational Technology and Associate Dean of School of Education at Loyola University Maryland. He was the founding Director of Graduate Programs in Educational Technology. He has taught computer applications and computer programming at the high school level, and he has worked as a technology specialist in a high school. His scholarly interests include support for technology in the schools, digital citizenship, and the second-level digital divide.

About This Brief

In this brief, Dr. David Marcovitz introduces the Educational Technology Social Justice Matrix, a preliminary model he created to help frame discourses regarding research, development, and application of educational technology through the lens of social activism and anti-racism. Dr. Marcovitz discusses the rationale behind the development of the Matrix and reviews emergent research that intersects educational technology and social justice. Finally, Dr. Marcovitz provides implications for future research on technology integration into teacher education programs.


To address diversity and equity in education, there is increasing research investigating how to prepare educators to establish inclusive, technology-rich, and 21st-century learning environments (e.g., Selwyn, 2017). Researchers suggest that when integrating technology, teacher educators should instill the disposition of using technology for knowledge construction into teaching, prioritize pedagogic action, as well as incorporate modeling and practical experience (Belland, 2009). A lack of considerations of socially constructed factors, such as race, in teacher development and technology beliefs might influence technology integration in practices (Heath & Segal, 2021).

Drawing upon a review of recent literature (2018-2019) on educational technology and social justice, Marcovitz (2021) identified five broad themes including digital democracy, digital divide, STEM/makerspaces, online learning/instructional design, and media literacy. Marcovitz analyzed connections of the identified categories to social justice within the model of Social Justice Pedagogical Content Knowledge (SJPCK) developed by Dyches and Boyd (2017). Marcovitz found that most reviewed studies grounded theoretical underpinnings within culturally relevant pedagogies (Ladson-Billings, 1995). However, disability was not visible within this literature. Interestingly, another article investigating research on social justice in teacher education indicated that disability was typically treated as an isolated marker of identity with little consideration of intersectionality (Pugach et al., 2021). Moving forward, Pugach and colleagues suggest that promoting instruction that connects multiple learner identities supported by diverse instructional strategies will help transform teacher education for social justice.

In this brief, Dr. Marcovitz provides a context within which he developed the Educational Technology Social Justice Matrix that categorizes reviewed studies using the SJPCK model. He uses several studies as examples of how researchers and practitioners can use Matrix to analyze existing research-based practices from the lens of social justice. In addition, Dr. Marcovitz suggests that future research on educational technology can look at the intersection between social justice and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that serves as a framework for guiding inclusive instructional designs.

Conversation with Dr. Marcovitz

Key Insights

Research shows that pre-service teachers benefit from modeling and practices through technology-based field experiences (Hixon, 2009). In several studies reviewed by Marcovitz, technology-based field experience was also highlighted as a way that supports teachers and teacher educators in connecting diverse cultures within and across communities.

… a project that teachers can do with their students and teacher education programs can do with their teacher candidates to help them understand how to do with their students.

In the digital era, it is imperative to prepare educators for leveraging technology to enhance access to high quality learning experiences for all learners. Higher education institutions should consider strengthening the preparation of teacher candidates for technology-supported instruction that connects multiple learner identities, such as race and disability, through the lens of social justice. To do so, it is essential to articulate expectations that speak directly to social justice for both faculty and teacher candidates (Kapustka et al., 2009). However, there remains a question as to whether social justice is explicitly positioned and addressed in various professional standards and educational technology standards.

If you look at various standards and educational technology standards and things they always mention equity somewhere in there, but there aren’t great ideas about how that actually happens in the real world.

The more pre-service teachers approach instructional practices toward a student focused orientation, the more positive perspectives they would hold regarding integrating various technologies to support student learning (Heath & Segal, 2021). Integrating the UDL framework and technology in teacher preparation programs has the potential to improve the capacity of pre-service teachers to implement student-centered instructional practices.

… look at the next two years’ worth of papers, maybe there will be enough research on UDL to form a category because they probably should be an important area.

Suggested Readings

Belland, B. R. (2009). Using the theory of habitus to move beyond the study of barriers to technology integration. Computers & Education, 52(2), 353–364.

Dyches, J., & Boyd, A. (2017). Foregrounding equity in teacher education: Toward a model of social justice pedagogical and content knowledge. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(5), 476–490.

Heath, M. K., & Segal, P. (2021). What pre-service teacher technology integration conceals and reveals: “Colorblind” technology in schools. Computers & Education, 170, 104225.

Hixon, E., & So, H. J. (2009). Technology’s role in field experiences for preservice teacher training. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 294-304.

Kapustka, K. M., Howell, P., Clayton, C. D., & Thomas, S. (2009). Social justice in teacher education: A qualitative content analysis of NCATE conceptual frameworks. Equity & Excellence in Education, 42(4), 489–505.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465–491.

Marcovitz, D. (2021). The Educational Technology Social Justice Matrix: A call to action for researchers. In E. Langran & L. Archambault (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 374-383). Online, United States: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Pugach, M. C., Matewos, A. M., & Gomez-Najarro, J. (2020). Disability and the meaning of social justice in teacher education research: A precarious guest at the table? Journal of Teacher Education, 72(2), 237–250.

Selwyn, N. (2017). Education and technology: Key issues and debates (2nd ed.). London, UK: Bloomsbury.

Suggested Citation

Zhang, L., & The CIDDL Team. (2021). CIDDL Research and Practice Brief 5: Intersection of social justice and educational technology in teacher preparation. The Center for Innovation, Design, and Digital Learning.