06 SES 07, Transforming Classroom Interactions in Open Learning Environments
In this paper we examine how the presence of student’s own smartphones change the interactional space of classroom. In the latest Finnish statistics from 2015, over 95 percent of youth between 16-24 had a smartphone (tilastokeskus.fi), and mobile devices have become part of everyday life in Finnish upper secondary schools. During our 2015-2016 field work in two upper secondary schools in Finland, we recorded 113 hours of video material in classrooms. During lessons the students participating in the study used their smartphones between 5 and 20 percent of the time. The majority of student phone use in our material was social interaction with others and happened mostly through social media applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Participating in social media has changed from a subcultural to a normative practice (Boyd 2014) and it seems that these practices also have become crucial part of upper secondary classrooms. The smartphones afford students to participate in mobile mediated sociality without leaving the confines of the classroom. This can be seen as one the of most substantial changes that mobile devices bring into the school context.
In the classroom, smartphone use takes place in a heavily constrained interactional environment. The interaction patterns and interactional organization of the classroom are well known (cf. Kääntä, 2010; Lehtimaja 2012; Sahlström, 1999) and its limitations incite students to involve in side talk. This, in turn, leads to teachers having to use their disciplinary authority more often than they would prefer (Tainio, 2011). Mobile mediated interaction doesn’t require audible chat, so it interrupts teaching less than verbal side talk. This makes classroom management easier and might be one reason why teachers often allow phone use, even against formal rules. Smartphone use opens new possibilities for students to interact and to create their own spaces, therefore changing the interaction and power structures. Before the presence of smartphones, the possible interlocutors for students were limited to the teacher and peers inside the same classroom. Now the possible interlocutors are almost limitless as smartphones enable communication outside the classroom. Smartphones can be used for anchoring to one's own social community, like friends and family (Robbson 2015). As a consequence, classroom interactional space becomes more open and multi-layered.
In this paper we look at how the smartphone use in classrooms alters student participation and engagement. We use the analytical concept of participation frameworks as we attend to the question of how classroom interaction is organized and changed through constellations of language, environment, body and action in the studied teacher-student interaction (Goodwin 2000, 2013).
Through smartphones students become available for initiatives to interaction from people and communities beyond classroom. Our aim is to understand how incoming contents affect the participation of students in classroom interaction and what kinds of methods the students have for managing the overlapping and intertwining participation frameworks.
We examine how students tackle the situation in which two different participation frameworks, classroom face-to-face and mobile phone mediated intertwine.
The empirical focus is on the situations where students receive contents, like Snapchat and WhatsApp messages beyond the classroom during plenary teaching.
The empirical data for this paper consists of classroom video recordings conducted in two Finnish upper secondary schools. In the center of the data are seven 15- to 17-year-old focus students, whose school days have been followed with a participant-centred approach during 2015-2016 (Rusk; Pörn; Sahlström & Slotte-Lüttge 2015). Traditional video ethnographic data is enhanced with screen recordings from students’ smartphones (Holm, Sahlström & Zilliacus, 2018) and these two recordings are synchronized with each other. The combination of screen recordings and traditional video ethnographic material makes possible the detailed analysis of how face-to-face and mobile mediated interaction intertwine in the context of classroom. The material as a whole consists of 113 hours of classroom material in 15 different subjects with 16 different teachers, from which a collection of examples of students’ use of mobile phones during plenary teaching have been selected. The organization of participation in the cases has been carefully investigated in relation to whole-class interaction. Recording, analysing and showing mobile phone content is ethically sensitive. To enhance participant control over data production, the students have constantly been able to choose when their screens are mirrored and have been able to close the mirroring program whenever they decide. In the project period, we have collaborated closely with the students, to ensure their understanding of the project, and of their voluntary participation. We have visited the schools several times. Following the fieldwork, all participating students have given their consent for the recordings. Further, they have been given the opportunity to view and approve of each of the visual recordings used in articles, presentations etc. The data will be analyzed in the framework of conversation analysis, with focus on the concrete manifestations of interactions and ways of using language and body in interaction. (Schegloff 1996.) The analysis of the data is informed by methods and prior insights and findings on turn-taking in classrooms within the framework of conversation analysis (Schegloff 1996.) The analysis of the interplay between mobile phone use and verbal interaction relies mainly on the framework of interaction analysis established by Charles and Marjorie Harness Goodwin (Goodwin, 2000).
In contrast to participation in public whole-class classroom interaction, mobile phone interaction relies on different turn-construction and turn-allocation methods, with less competition for taking turns, and no public accountability of initiatives and responses. (Sahlström, Tanner & Valasmo forthcoming). In our material, almost all of the student phone use is carried out without being oriented to by neither students nor teachers as interactionally problematic, or as threatening the participation organization of whole-class interaction. Thus, it is the case that for students, classroom access to phone-mediated sociality seems to radically alter their whole-class teaching participation constraints and affordances. (Sahlström, Tanner & Valasmo forthcoming). During lessons students can receive plenty of different kinds of contents into their smartphones. Most of these incoming contents in our material are related to mobile mediated interaction that happens through social media applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat. The empirical material shows that students are not passive receiver of these contents, but they actively control their social space with different methods, for example by adjusting the settings of the device and by placing of the device. The obligations for participation in mobile mediated interactions are different than in face-to-face classroom interaction. To participate in mobile mediated interaction does not require immediate responses as face-to-face interaction often does, and it is possible for students to adjust their mobile mediated actions in relation to ongoing plenary teaching so, that it does not cause problem for the whole classroom interaction. By analysing the excerpts of situations in which students receive contents into their devices during plenary teaching, we achieve a better understanding of how students manage situations with two or several overlapping participation frameworks. Empirical analysis of the situations shows how students actively adjust their actions in relation to both face-to-face classroom interaction and mobile mediated interaction.
Boyd, D. (2014). It’s Complicated. The Social Lives of Networked Teens. London: Yale University Press. Goodwin, C. (2000). Action and embodiment within situated human interaction. Journal of pragmatics, 32, 1489–1522. Goodwin, C. (2013). The co-operative, transformative organization of human action and knowledge. Journal of pragmatics, 46, 8–23. Holm, G, Sahlström, F & Zilliacus, H (2018), Arts-Based Visual Research. i P Leavy (red.), Handbook of arts-based research. Guilford Press, New York, s. 311-335 Kääntä, L. 2010. Teacher turn-allocation and repair practices in classroom interaction: a multisemiotic perspective. Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities 137. Lehtimaja, L. (2012). Puheen suuntia luokkahuoneessa: Oppilaat osallistujina yläkoulun suomi toisena kielenä -tunnilla. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopiston suomen kielen, suomalais-ugrilaisten ja pohjoismaisten kielten ja kirjallisuuksien laitos 2012. Robbson, G. (2015). “You are forced to be who you are”: Embodiment and social media in intercultural experience. In Robson & Malgorzata (eds.) Digital diversities: social media and intercultural experiences. Rusk, F. & Pörn, M. & Sahlström, F. & Slotte-Lüttge, A. (2015). Perspectives on using video recordings in conversational analytical studies on learning in interaction. International Journal of Research & Method in Education Vol. 38, p. 39-55. Sahlström, F. & Tanner, M. & Valasmo, V. (2017). How does classroom phone use affect student and teacher participation in whole-class interaction? Manuscript. Sahlström, F. (1999). Up the hill backwards. On interactional constraints and affordances for equity-constitution in the classrooms of the Swedish comprehensive school. Uppsala: Uppsala Studies in Education., 85 Schegloff, E. A. (1996). Confirming allusions: Toward an empirical account of action. American Journal of Sociology, 102(1), 161-216. Tainio, L. (2011). Gendered address terms in reproach sequences in classroom interaction. Linguistics and Education 22 (2011) 330–347. Väestön tieto- ja viestintätekniikan käyttö (2015). Statistics Finland. http://tilastokeskus.fi/til/sutivi/2015/sutivi_2015_2015-11-26_kat_002_fi.html
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