16 SES 06 C JS, ICT in the Classroom
Joint Paper Session NW 16 and NW 27
This paper is based on a didactical ethnographical approach in the tradition of on what, why and how of ICT use in relation to content, design and interaction rather than what the technology can do. The tradition of Didaktik provides a framework which places the teacher at the heart of teaching-studying-learning process (Hudson, 2007), the autonomy of the teacher (Hopmann, 2007) and teachers thinking about the basic how, what, why questions around their work (Schulman, 1986).
The particular interest of this ethnographical study is to explore teachers and pupils work with digital technology in a Swedish primary school practice from a didactical framework which addresses what, how and why of ICT use in relation to content, design and interaction with ICT (Hudson, 2007). In addition, the didactical approach includes a process of critically questioning the purpose of an added value of ICT use and of whose interests are served with ICT (Hudson, 2007).
Digital technologies are shaped by globally circulating policy discourses and are also a part of the struggle over politics of schools (Selwyn, 2017). In the policy documents published by the Swedish government from 2011 to 2017, there is an ongoing rhetoric of technology use in education focusing on digital technologies and their potential to enhance educational settings.
Much of the debate about ICT and education focus on that technology will be the catalyst to create change and that teachers become viewed as the major brake on the innovation that might be considered by policy makers as necessary by the system (Hudson, 2007). ICT is not only perceived as a catalyst for change but also change in teaching style, learning approaches, and change in access to information. Like all dimensions of educational systems, both pedagogy and teachers’ work are altered by changes that occur on a global scale i.e. factors that may alter what is taught and how it is taught, which teachers work is not immune to (Bonval, 2000). The question is how the educative substance could be opened up for the pupils in the meeting with the content in the given process (Hopmann, 2007) and in what way the ‘what, how and why’ of the subject matter will be enacted in relation to e. g conceptual or structural changes (Hopmann, 2007). There is, therefore, a didactic relation between the ‘what, how and why’ of the content of subject domains (Hopmann, 2007), and the ‘what, how and why’ of the digital technologies available to teachers (Hudson, 2007).
Previous research studies implicate the complexity in teaching and teachers’ resistance and resilience to technological change (Selwyn, 1999). A study of primary teachers’ perceptions of ICT subject knowledge indicate that there are ambiguities held in tension between ICT as a discrete subject domain; as a resource to support curriculum learning objectives and as a capability for higher order thinking and activity (Loveless, 2003).
The empirical material in this paper is based on a didactical ethnographical approach and is a part of a long-term study of practices within compulsory school. The study started in 2011 and the fieldwork was primarily concerned with the understandings of teachers and pupils work with digital technology from a didactical perspective (Hopmann, 2007; Hudson, 2007). It was grounded within the interaction between teachers and pupils in everyday classrooms (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007). The data was produced through written policy documents, field notes, audio- and videotapes. Three months of participant observation from the total body of fieldwork has informed this paper. This portion of fieldwork was concentrated on lessons where teachers and pupils work with digital technologies in a third-grade classroom. The setting for this study was, located in an urban primary school, which employs laptops for pupils’ use. The public school is situated in a middle-class area in the south of Sweden where the school children come from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The primary school is part of a 2-1 laptop-project, providing one computer for every two students. The study can be described as explorative in the sense that the data was gathered with the purpose of seeing how teachers and pupils interact with laptops during school activities. Exploration is flexible in the sense that the focus of the study becomes progressively sharpened as the enquiry proceeds (Silverman, 2010). These different data collections were initially in an unstructured form, which means that descriptive field notes together with video recordings, documents and interviews have been processed and analyzed for the purpose of interpreting teachers’ and pupils’ interaction with digital artefacts in relation to the research questions, which is a part of the ethnographical work (Hammersley §Atkinson, 2007).
The results presented here indicate that the subject content in relation to ICT, challenged teaching by the design and the knowledge building of the software, which resulted in the design of tutorials came in focus for teachers’ and pupils’ interaction in favour for the traditional didactical questions of what content, why and how between content and new technologies. The teachers in the study were fully concentrated on finding various ways of using software features in order to possess the necessary skills, which distanced the didactic relation between the ‘what, how and why’ of the content of subject domains (Hopmann, 2007), and the ‘what, how and why’ of the digital technologies available to teachers (Hudson, 2007). The recurring discussion of the teachers’ role and an expressed desire for being trained in ICT skills to fulfil the ‘new’ expected role, resulted in examples of generic rather than specific forms of skills. The didactical ICT interaction relation of a more generic nature was related to the design of pupils-centred learning environments in particular. The findings also indicate that the teachers were very much left alone and made responsible for the implementation of ICT teaching methods without having concrete definitions from local policy what to teach about, what content or teaching methods because of the lack of support for teachers in the Swedish syllabuses of various school subjects about the relation between the what, how and why and ICT in education. In conclusion, there might be a need for further addition of research findings in the policy texts, concerning the didactical implications of classroom interaction with ICT i. e the didactic relation between the ‘what, how and why’ of the digital technologies available to teachers (Hopmann, 2007; Hudson, 2007).
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