19 SES 04, Ethnography Accounting Identity Construction in Education
Social media is rapidly transforming not only human sociality, but also classroom interaction. It is becoming increasingly clear that video ethnographic classroom research needs to find ways of documenting and analyzing situated smartphone use if it wants to continue to claim its value for scrutinizing central aspects of human sociality. This paper addresses (some) classroom use of social media and smartphones in classrooms. Students’ phone use co-constructs student spaces, which emerge from various, and often seemingly small, fragments of interactional resources afforded by the phone. Engaging in multiple activities at once has become a common part of phone-related classroom activity. The Internet and the outside world with its communicational resources are present in the classroom in-and-through the use of smartphones and social media. Social networks extend outside the classroom, and relatively long instances of phone use can co-occur with classroom teaching. It seems clear that a new interactional culture, and space, is emerging inside the classroom. In this emerging space, technology plays a major part.
The development of smartphones and mobile Internet have advanced tremendously during the 2000s and have, thus, made the access to information and communication increasingly available in many parts of the world. For example, the access to Internet through smartphone apps overshadowed those of PCs in 2014 (O’Toole, 2014). Nevertheless, these technologies are, still, used by human participants that are, at the same time, part of situated social practices and events that are non-digital. This may, particularly, be the case when smartphones are used at school, in classrooms, as part of both on-task and off-task activities, either to gather information on a task at class or to keep in touch with friends, or other co-participants, outside of class. For multilingual participants, this communication — then — involves several languages.
Previous research shows that classrooms are often oriented-to and jointly constructed as monolingual settings in which the preferred language is the language of instruction (e.g. Amir & Musk, 2013). In the research reported here, we focus on the ways that multilingual participants orient to and use mobile digital technology to co-construct multilingual identities in monolingually oriented classrooms. That is, how participants can, in-and-through the use of mobile communication, bring their multilingual identities into the classroom, parallell to the oriented-to monolingual norm of the collective classroom. However, the mobile interactions also influence and contribute to the classroom interactions, and vice versa.
Through a participant’s perspective on identity-construction, the construction of a local identity, regarding (but not restricted to) language, in diverse contexts is a situated interactional process. The process affords individuals space to articulate their identities in their interaction through active negotiation (Hall & Du Gay, 1996). By recording these negotiations – both on- and offline – as they are being done, we can better understand these processes. The affirmation and support for the multilingual identities of teenagers has been shown to further positive identity construction, successful literacy development, and continued educational progress (Baker, 2006; Cummins, 2000). Previous research on multilingual practices in classrooms that focus on students’ language use in interaction (Bagga-Gupta; 2014; Cekaite, 2006; García, 2009; Gynne, 2016). These studies have explored diverse aspects of multilingual interaction in schools, including its effect on learning and students’ everyday lives and identity-construction. The studies strongly explicate the importance of how being allowed, and able, to use several languages functions as a support for communication for multilingual participants in different contexts and settings.
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