Special issue on
A Pedagogy of Care: Critical Humanizing Approaches to Teaching and Learning with Technology

Guest Editors
Benjamin Gleason, Iowa State University
Rohit Mehta, California State University, Fresno 

Prioritizing a Pedagogy of Care

We are educational technology scholars in the United States who have been taking critical and humanizing approaches to research and scholarship on educational technology (Gleason, 2016; Mehta & Aguilera, 2020). Amidst a global pandemic where educational technology is now required in order to sustain learning, we are interested in thinking about the ways that educational technology promotes and reinforces harmful educational practices (among them standardization, myths of efficiency, inequality of access) - in short, flattening, shrinking, and reducing education to dehumanizing forms. We aim to explicitly challenge the current state of educational technology (theories/practice) by decentering technology and prioritizing a pedagogy of care which, for Rolón-Dow (2005), involves the concerted “examination of power, social location, culture, and access to resources in any relational context, to minimize inequity and maximize the extent to which relationships are reciprocal and justice-oriented” (Zygmunt et al., 2018, p. 129) (see also Beck & Newman, 1996; Nakkula & Ravitch, 1998). 

Theoretical Oversights in Ed Tech

First, while attempting to examine the impact and implications of technology integration for teaching and learning, the field of educational technology has prioritized the business of technology at the expense of care and humanizing practices. This has led to reducing the broad field of educational technology--which we argue includes the social, cultural, political, and historical contexts in which technology is produced, mobilized, and repurposed--in favor of a focus on the “effectiveness” of a particular technology to promote productivity, support student engagement, increase students’ disciplinary knowledge, or ameliorate instructional practices.

Second, models that center technology promote a neutral, decontextualized view of educational technology that reduces the complexity of learning in favor of narrowly defined learning outcomes. In this view, technology is a neutral tool that can be “applied” universally to promote a prescriptive brand of measurable, often disciplinary, tasks--the emphasis here is on finding the most efficient ways to organize, implement, and assess instruction. In removing context, this perspective implies a broad universality to technology, which can lead to reductive statements about the “innovative”, “transformative” or “revolutionary” nature of technology. 

Third, there is an assumption that it is possible to leverage these tools for meaningful change in the current system. We challenge these assumptions, arguing that the discipline of educational technology, with a reductive, prescriptive attention to efficient uses of technology to achieve technical ends cannot foster humanizing practices. We cannot overlay critical theory into pre-existing models and conceptions of educational technology. Rather, it is necessary to develop a broader theoretical framework, what we have called critical humanizing pedagogies in our work (Mehta & Aguilera, 2020; Shelton, Aguilera, Gleason, & Mehta, 2020), that center pedagogy through explicit grounding in critical theory and care. 

Critical Humanizing Pedagogies and Pedagogies of Care: A Vision for the Future

Now, as a result of a dramatic unsettling of what counts as “normal,” we are finally acknowledging the importance of understanding education as a caring practice-- as something that is relational, emergent, and creative. Rather than prioritizing technology as a matter of neutral use, we conceptualize technology as praxis that is necessarily political, contextual, and riddled with complexity. Instead of a model that sees incremental change as a result of educational reform through individual teachers, we argue for broader conceptual change through a collective of critical educational technology scholars and practitioners who are committed to meaningful action. We see the current global health crisis as a moment of opportunity that facilitates important conversation about who education is working for, how technology is implicit in this working (or not working), and how we develop new pedagogical practices (through technology) that offer new ways of reclaiming our humanity, building connections with each other, and creating rich spaces for learning that are as varied and meaningful as our relationships with our partners, friends, and families. Putting these ideas together means working to develop pedagogies that are humanizing and caring, especially during this moment of crisis and opportunity.

Topics of Interest

The Italian Journal of Educational Technology invites researchers and experts in the field to submit contributions related to one or more of the following themes: 

  • Technology
    • Critical approaches to educational technology and pedagogy
    • Humanizing approaches to teaching with technology
    • Digital/new literacies
    • Neoliberalism and technology
  • Pedagogy
    • Approaches to care in teaching and learning
    • Humanizing pedagogy in the 21st century
    • Creativity, play and the arts
    • Expanding relations between teacher-learner in pedagogies of care
    • Reconsidering the role of learner, teacher, and community/network
  • Methodology
    • Critiques of existing methodological tools and approaches
    • New methodological tools and approaches to conceptualizing caring pedagogies
    • Humanizing approaches to / critiques of measurement and assessment
    • Approaches beyond the methods fetish (Bartolomé, 1994) 

Contributions of the following types are welcomed:

  • Theoretical articles (about 6500 words)
  • Research articles (about 6500 words)
  • Reviews of the literature (about 6500 words)
  • Dissents, critiques or other provocations (below 3000 words)

Contributors should make their submissions by February 28th, 2021, through the journal website, after registering as an author. Upon submission, please mention this call for papers in the field “Comments for the editors”. Papers should be formatted according to the author guidelines. All contributions are subject to a double blind peer review process. Publication is expected in March 2022.

For specific information about this special issue, please contact Benjamin Gleason <bgleason@iastate.edu> or Rohit Mehta <mehta@csufresno.edu>

For general information about the journal, please contact <ijet@itd.cnr.it>


Bartolome, L. (1994). Beyond the methods fetish: Toward a humanizing pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 64(2), 173–195.

Beck, L. G., & Newman, R. L. (1996). Caring in one urban high school: Thoughts on the interplay among race, class, and gen- der. In D. Eaker-Rich & J. V. Galen (Eds.), Caring in an unjust world: Negotiating borders and barriers in schools (pp. 171- 198). New York: State University of New York Press.

Gleason, B. W. (2016). The world of teenage Twitter: New literacies, identity work, and humanizing pedagogy. Michigan State University.

Mehta, R., & Aguilera, E. (2020). A critical approach to humanizing pedagogies in online teaching and learning. The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, 37(3), 109-120. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJILT-10-2019-0099

Nakkula, M. J., & Ravitch, S. M. (1998). Matters of interpretation: Reciprocal transformation in therapeutic and developmental relationships with youth. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Rolón-Dow, R. (2005). Critical care: A color(full) analysis of care narratives in the schooling experiences of Puerto Rican girls. American Educational Research Journal, 42(1), 77-111.

Shelton, C., Aguilera, E., Gleason, B., & Mehta, R. (2020). Resisting dehumanizing assessments: Enacting critical humanizing pedagogies in online teacher education. In Ferdig, R. E., Baumgartner, E., Hartshorne, R., Kaplan-Rakowski, R. & Mouza, C. (Eds). Teaching, Technology, and Teacher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories from the Field. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), pp. 125-129. https://www.learntechlib.org/p/216903/

Zygmunt, E., Cipollone, K., Tancock, S., Clausen, J., Clark, P., & Mucherah, W. (2018). Loving Out Loud: Community Mentors, Teacher Candidates, and Transformational Learning Through a Pedagogy of Care and Connection. Journal of Teacher Education, 69(2), 127–139. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487117751640