The Impact of Technology on Education for Citizenship
Michael J. Berson
Phillip J. VanFossen
Purdue University Press
In 1991, Lawrence Grossman wrote that
a new political system is taking shape in the United States. As we approach the twenty-first century, America is turning into an electronic republic, a democratic system that is vastly increasing the people's day-to-day influence on decisions of state.
Grossman's forecast implied a sea change in the way citizens would interact with, and participate in, their representative government; a revamping of the way Americans would 'do' citizenship. Harnessing the power of technology to promote the ideal of democracy that first pulsed through our nation over 230 years ago may be a feasible achievement in a technocratic age, but whether technology can help achieve a revolution as seismic as the political one that our founding fathers initiated may be a practical impossibility. Indeed, the emergence of the Internet as a nearly ubiquitous element of American society has brought about new opportunities to enhance citizen engagement in democratic politics and to increase the level of civic engagement among American citizens. Despite such rhetoric, however, research has indicated that Grossman's
has, for the most part, failed to come to fruition.
Phillip J. VanFossen is the James F. Ackerman professor of Social Studies Education and director of the Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship in the College of Education at Purdue University. He is also the associate director of the Purdue University Center for Economic Education. Michael J. Berson is a professor of Social Science Education at the University of South Florida (USF). He has been honored with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) President's Award for his exceptional contribution to the field.