Technology and Social Justice

The current technology standards for students lend themselves directly to helping teachers integrate social justice issues into the curriculum. Individuals across many fields are working with technology to combat social justice issues in their own communities. Costanza-Chock et al. (2018) state, “These practitioners include software developers, designers, and project managers, as well as researchers, policy advocates, community organizers, city officials, and people in many other roles” (p. 6). As teachers, we can prepare our students to participate in this ecosystem by integrating technology with social justice in our classrooms. It is important that we present careers in computer science to our students as more than just suited for people who are good at using technology. Costanza-Chock et al. (2018) explain that educators “should make sure that “tech for social justice’ is visible, rather than the predominant framing, which is that computer science is for people who ‘like puzzles and money.” This would be true in education both for youth and adults” (p. 114). For this post, I would like to focus on the Digital Citizen and Global Collaborator ISTE Standards for Students.
Digital Citizen


The Digital Citizen standard states, “Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016).  Teaching Tolerance (2017) has comprised a list of seven areas to help students develop digital and civic literacy skills. The third skill included in the framework relates directly to the ISTE standard above and states “Students can constructively engage in digital communities” and includes performance indicators of “Display inclusivity and empathy during group communications” and “Evaluate group communications for bias and hate” (Teaching Tolerance, 2017).
The Teaching Tolerance Framework includes lessons for all grade levels that focus on this skill. For students in grades 3-5, the lesson focuses on how to be inclusive and show empathy in communities. In this lesson students are given the opportunity to discuss digital community scenarios that relate to social justice issues like, “A group of friends are hanging out together watching YouTube videos. One of the videos is about immigration, and a lot of the people in it are talking in purposely funny voices and making fun of immigrants” (Teaching Tolerance, 2017). Scenarios like this are important to present to our students so they will understand how to appropriately respond when they see these social justice issues discussed on the internet.
Jennifer Snelling (2017) of writes about how a middle school math teacher from Oregon has given her students the opportunity to use statistical analysis to relate to an idea of social justice or an issue in the community. The article encourages teachers to challenge students to connect the world around them and their community by trying to solve a real problem. This type of lesson in the classroom allows kids to see how they can make a difference in society.


Global Collaborator

The Global Collaborator standard states, “Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016). As students use technology more frequently at younger ages, they need to be taught how to use the internet for making a positive impact on their community.
The Teaching Tolerance Framework includes another skill that directly relates to the ISTE standards. This skill states, “Students can evaluate the value of the internet as a mechanism of civic action” and includes the performance indicators of “students will understand the use of digital tools for active citizenship and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of digital remedies for injustice and calls to action” (Teaching Tolerance, 2017). The lesson linked to this skill teaches students how they can participate in online activism and suggests that students work together to brainstorm how the internet could help them work toward a solution of an issue in their school or community. As students work together in this lesson, they would learn how digital media can be used to work on a problem they care about.
For students to collaborate with others online to combat social justice issues, they need to be taught how to respectfully comment on these issues. Lynch (2018) states, “Teach them to handle these debates with grace, calmly stating their points rather than attacking the person who disagrees with them. An effective social justice advocate knows how to use facts to support their points. Resorting to name-calling will not win anyone over to your side, and it diminishes the issues you’re trying to shine a light on.” This is a skill students can practice through both verbal and online discussion with their own classmates. Giving students the opportunity to respectfully disagree with others is essential to prepare them for success in the 21st century.



Costanza-Chock, S., Wagoner, M., Taye, B., Rivas, C., Schweidler, C., & Bullen, G.                    (2018). #MoreThanCode: Practitioners reimagine the landscape of technology for justice and equity (Rep.). Retrieved                                                                                         

International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). National educational technology standards for students. Retrieved from

Lynch, M. (2018, May 04). How to Teach Kids Social Justice in the Digital Age. Retrieved from

Snelling, J. (2017, October 2). Students use technology to do good in the world. Retrieved from

Teaching Tolerance. (2017). Digital and Civic Literacy Skills. Retrieved from                 

One thought on “Technology and Social Justice”

  1. Thanks for the informative post. I was not aware that the current technology standards integrated social justice. This is a great tip for educators struggling to grapple the concept of integrating social justice into their curriculum. Particularly educators who do not teach humanities content. Technology is a great platform to not only teach students how to combat social justice, but also advocate social justice. In this day and age, people can effectively get their voices heard via social media platforms. Social media platforms have therefore become an essential platform for social advocacy.


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