THE DEVELOPMENT OF PRAXIS, EMPOWERMENT AND CAPACITY FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTION AMONG YOUTH PARTICIPANTS IN A TECHNOLOGY- EMBEDDED, ONLINE SOCIAL JUSTICE EDUCATION PROGRAM
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This study explores the use of technology for social justice education in one case, TakingITGlobal (TIG). Framed by the theoretical work of Paulo Freire, the principles of social justice education and empowerment theory this study explores youth empowerment and engagement in TIG’s on-line platform. TIG’s program model has a clearly stated mandate to leverage technology use for social justice education and action and connects youth engagement in social justice issues to a structured framework that provides resources, opportunities for action and possibilities for connecting with an active community. While much has been written on the use of social media in supporting social justice, little work has been done around the use of social media within an explicit social justice education framework. Data were collected in the form of documents from the TIG website, an interview with a senior staff member and documents written by TIG youth members in which they self-reported their experiences using the TIG platform. Findings from the case study demonstrated that the primary focus of technology use in the platform was to facilitate the development of awareness and issue understanding, connect engaged individuals to networks and empower them to engage in sustainable and meaningful action. TIG pedagogy adhered to the principles of social justice education and demonstrated the technology-embedded practices that support the transformative use of technology. The findings indicate that TIG expressed a clear intention to use technology to support social justice education and action and that TIG’s social justice education program and technology use interacted to support participants’ feelings of empowerment and development of praxis. Participants consistently identified their experience using the technology and platform as having a positive impact on their feelings of empowerment, their engagement in social justice, and their capacity to achieve their social justice goals. Considering the evidence regarding the conditions necessary for transformative use of technology it would appear that more research should occur around the transformative potential of technology used explicitly for social justice within a pedagogic approach that adheres to the essential elements of social justice education.