19 SES 02 A, SPACE: Mapping, Inclusion and Interactions
Although sociomaterial approaches have recently received attention in educational sciences, the majority of educational studies still follow representational assumptions which accounts for clear distinctions between meaning-matter, and subject-object in research (Fenwick, Edwards, & Sawchuk, 2011). Sociomaterial approaches offer a different approach to the realm of research that attends to human and non-human actors symmetrically and through the relations these actors establish.
This paper contributes to the expansion of sociomaterial ethnographies, as they offer the researchers with guidelines for the analysis of data in different educational fields, especially in digitally saturated settings. Educational settings are increasingly integrated with various digital mediations, namely the deployment of digital devices and online platforms at schools. Digital devices and the new corresponding technologies complicate the setting under investigation. Only a small number of studies have specifically focused on the sociomateriality of digitally saturated educational settings and its implications for sociomaterial ethnographies of these settings.
The current study addresses challenges that are introduced when scrutinizing digitally saturated settings in a sociomaterial vein, and more particularly traditional sociomaterial guidelines for observation and analysis of these settings. Additionally, the study offers new pathways to further develop sociomaterial ethnographies of education. It does so by means of an ethnographic observation in one digitally saturated setting, namely at a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) school. In these schools students are asked to bring at least one personal digital device for educational purposes.
One of the general guidelines of sociomaterial approaches is to scrutinize the educational field by assembling and re-assembling the actors and their relations in terms of regions, and networks. The traditional sociomaterial approach accounts for a stable pattern of these networks. For instance, Law(1989) stresses the stability needed for networks to operate, that is, when technological artifacts are introdcued to the setting. This implies that a breakdown in any component threatens the stability of the network.
As opposed to this traditional take, Sorensen (2009) conveys how this assumption falls short in relation to virtual environments. Different components can temporarily disappear or breakdown, but the practice remains stable. “The stability is not created through all the components staying in place”(Sorensen, 2009, p. 64). Rather, the technological process is stable precisely because of its fluidity which allows components to be mobile, and to float in and out. Concurring with Law and Mol (1994), she replaces the metaphor of network with ‘metaphors of regions and fluid spaces’ (Fenwick, 2010, p.16) to account for the sociomaterial description of technological processes.
For Sorensen (2009), a temporary interruption of the components does not interrupt the practice, the fluid patterns of relation allow the practice to go on, and the network to remain stable. However, this take equally implies that the network rejects, avoids or dismisses what (relations) emerge in these breakdowns and how.
This issue can especially be traced when a temporary absence of a component transforms the practice drastically, so much as to either disrupt the practice or drastically change its form. The fluid patterns of relations do not allow to analyze these situations, for they simply focus on the “fluid stability” (Sorensen, 2009). Through a sociomaterial ethnography at a school that implements BYOD model, this paper demonstrates that the metaphor of regions and fluid spaces does not completely describe the relations of these technological processes. This has been analysed through comparing and contrasting several interruptions (lost network connection, computer breakdown, the broadcast of a shocking news, the absence of a teacher) at schools’ routines. The analysis presents how different relations emerge in these situations, and how the fluid patterns of relation can give their ways to plastique patterns of relations.
This paper follows a sociomaterial ethnographic approach (Fenwick 2010) that partakes at a Belgian school where the BYOD technology model is implemented in all different grades. The ethnographic observation was a systematic and regular recording of ‘what is going on’ (Sorensen, 2013) during the lessons in different classes such as literature, English, mathematics, as well as other spaces of the school such as assembly hall, cafeteria, media center, and the IT room for a period of three months. The focus of this ethnographic research was to bring the materiality of the digital devices and the corresponding infrastructure to the foreground by observing significant interruptions in school routines (Adams & Thompsons, 2016 ). Adopting a sociomaterial lens, the ethnographic study includes rigorous following of the actors (Latour, 2005) in concrete moments of breakdowns, and incidents and registering the relational interplay between the involved actors. These irregularities were engendered at the level of technological infrastructure (network failure, electricity shortage, etc), as well as other irregularities such as absence of the main teacher, or a shocking news across the school during the lessons. Data collection consists of rigid fieldnotes, sound recordings, and photographs and were analyzed through coding and composing thick descriptions (Latour, 2005). The data analysis demonstrates concretely what sorts of relations emerge in moments of interruption and what this implies for sociomaterial approaches. The sociomaterial analysis of data enables this paper to disentangle the role of digital devices at school, but also to expand on the line of sociomaterial thinking.
The findings of this study contribute to the ongoing discourses of sociomaterial approaches on the fluid patterns of relations. The idea of fluid patterns is recently discussed with regard to practices that entail technological processes in educational settings. The analysis of concrete school irregularities and accidents in this ethnographic study conveys that the fluid pattern does not fully describe the relations that emerge in moments of accident. Based on data analysis, this paper suggests to extend the fluidity pattern of relations and equally attend to their plasticity. Plasticity that was developed by Malabou(2012;2008) refers to moments when the subject of study can receive a form (stable), give form (flexible, and fluid), but equally nihilate a form (resilience). In this vein the plastique patterns of relations are sensitive to the breakdowns, and dysfunctionalities as a new way that makes the digital technologies visible in the field. This implies that an interruption in one of the components of the practice can be analyzed instead of rejected, avoided or dismissed (what the term fluid pattern of relations suggests). These interruptions create plastique relations that resist a specific pattern, or nihilate the current one. The new dimension of plastisity will offer new suggestions to conduct sociomaterial ethnographies in digitally saturated educational settings.
- Adams, C., & Thompson, T. (2016). Researching a posthuman world: Interviews with digital objects. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. -Fenwick, T. (2011). Emerging approaches in educational research: tracing the socio-material. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. - Fenwick, T. J., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. - Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. - Law, J. (1989). Technology and Heterogeneous Engineering: The Case of Portuguese Expansion, in Bijker, Wiebe E.; Hughes, Thomas P.; and Pinch, Trevor P. (eds.) The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 111–134 -Malabou, C. (2012). Ontology of the Accident: An essay on destructive plasticity. Malden, MA: Polity. - Malabou, C. (2008). What should we do with our brain?New York: Fordham University Press. -Mol, A., & Law, J. (1994). Regions, Networks and Fluids: Anaemia and Social Topology. Social Studies of Science, 24(4), 641-671. doi:10.1177/030631279402400402 - Sørensen, E. (2009). The Materiality of Learning: Technology and Knowledge in Educational Practice. New York: Cambridge University Press. - Sørensen, E. (2013). Human presence: Towards a posthumanist approach to experience. Subjectivity,6(1), 112-129. doi:10.1057/sub.2012.31
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.