Blog Post

Intro Blog- Critical Perspectives in EdTech



My name is Sharla Berry. I am a PhD student at  the University of Southern California in the Urban Education Policy Program. My research falls broadly in the category of critical edtech studies. I am interested in how students of color empower themselves in educational settings using technology, and how schools support and undermine minority youth efforts to develop 21st century skills. I am also interested in the following topics. 

                 21st century skills/ preparation for the labor market

technology policy and practice in schools

               maker movements in urban communities

               college access and technology

Right now I am in the process of immersing myself in various strands of literature and developing a research project on these topics. Therefore, book reccomendations are welcome.

I am currently writing a theoretical paper about neoliberal and social justice discourses in computer coding organizations. I am also working on a participatory action research project with HASTAC scholar Vanessa Monterosa and Chris Perez. College Knowledge LA is a mobile application that connects students of color with college prep resources in their community. We are currently working with students to design and test the app.

I look forward to dialoguing with other scholars about critical perspectives in edtech! 


1 comment

I strongly recommend - with a focus on 21st Century Skills - that you look back on the SCANS Report, on the Verified Resume, and forward to electronic portfolios, particularly in high school, where they remain largely ignored.

First, regarding SCANS, it was the "Secretary[of Labor]'s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills," in effect a labor document rather than an education document. Ironically, it took another decade before educators created the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, although there were a batch of the same people involved, including some from the Teachers Unions. SCANS was led by Dr. Arnold Packer, who then went to Johns Hopkins and refined those 2000 or so skills into "soft skills" and "hard skills."

Second, Dr. Packer's "soft skills" led to his development of a "verified resume" - a means by which kids could verify the skills they think they have, by asking teachers or workplace supervisors to "verify" their profiles. Those profiles targeted eight skill categories - like creativity, inquiry, collaboration, cross-cultural communication, and others - that allow students to show how transferrable a piece of knowledge might be across disciplines, ages, and contexts. The best example I know are the ePortfolios now used in Somerville, Massachusetts, by the high school. Check out the left column of the High School's web page for two examples, and the taxonomy of skills involved.

It should be noted that the ePortfolios in that setting were invented largely to save space from a huge volume of paper files accumulated by each kid over four years of high school, and mandated by the same legislation that set the standard for testing. That legislation - Massachusetts Ed Reform of 1993 - created portfolios as a means of mitigating the negative and exclusionary method of using only test scores.'s not as mitigating as it once was, and the state is now engaged in the PARCC consoritium's test building enterprise.

My point is that the kids of the 21st century have shown - in their portfolios - how to transcend the brutality of industrial test models a lot better than their teachers/parents/schools/colleges.