06 SES 11 A, Designing School with Media for Open Learning
Research questions /objectives and theoretical framework
An increasing number of Norwegian primary schools are implementing tablets along with computers and Smart Boards (Skarpaas, Ingulfsen & Gilje, 2015). The same tendencies can be witnessed in other European countries (Clark & Luckin, 2013). According to Drotner (2008), “much has been made of (…) the wiring of classrooms, and of the technical training of teachers and pupils”. Much less has been made of how pupils experience digital technology entering into established classroom practices (p. 167).
Academic and public debate tend to highlight technological opportunities and to frame the young as digitally savvy. According to Selwyn (2016), such decontextualized notions must be nuanced with empirically oriented studies of how learners themselves experience technology in different contexts. Individual's expectations, emotions and commitment can help to shed light on how technology is integrated, and might contribute into existing activities and practices (Selwyn, 2011).
It is generally agreed that education must support learner`s Bildung and identity. In primary schools, within which this paper is situated, it is vital to develop pupils` media literacy, i.e. to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to read and write, to manage and relate to a wide range of “texts” – digital and analogue - in a critical and reflexive manner in order to participate as active citizens in a democratic society (Buckingham, 2003; Lankshear & Knobel, 2006).
Within this context, the paper discusses selected examples from a case-study investigating how pupils between 5th and 7th grade reflect on learning activities involving tablets. The paper describes their experience on how tablets might contribute in different activities and educational practices. This is also a way of studying how pupils interpret media practices and own media literacy within the school context, related to leisure time media practices.
The following questions guide the study: How do young pupils interpret own learning with tablets in terms of opportunities and challenges?
Experience of opportunities and challenges has to do with matters of didactic facilitation, with classroom-management, and whether learning resources and activities are founded in pupil`s knowledge, expectations and experience from leisure time (Burnett, Merchant, Pahl & Rowsell, 2014; Bulfin & North, 2007; Bjørgen & Erstad, 2014). Understanding how young people engage with and interpret media practices might help teachers and adults to facilitate and scaffold their learning processes. Within the bigger picture, the above mentioned questions concern the role of future schooling and issues of inclusion and exclusion in education.
Adopting a socio-cultural (Wertsch, 1998) and a systems theory approach (Luhmann, 1995) on learning and human development, learning is investigated in terms of experiences of meaning, relevance and disturbances within different media practices that young people participate in. The analysis is guided by an understanding of media-practices as situated and interconnected across various contexts (Lankshare & Knobel, 2006). Hence, it is problematic to use simple distinctions and binaries about media practices in different domains (Bulfin & North, 2007). The analysis is also guided by Luhmann`s (2000) approach on communication systems. Luhmann rejects students being able to multitask. When pupils communicate via tablets or mobile phones rather than being attentive to the lecture, they are in principle opt for inclusion in another communication system and hence excluded from educational communication. According to Luhmann, communication systems can not completely avoid disturbances, but they can help stabilize an education situation if rejected. If interference or self-inflicted excuses are not rejected, many smaller communication systems may appear, the purpose of which is probably not learning (Fritze 2004; Arntzen, 2013).
Methods/methodology The paper draws on results from an ongoing research project focusing on pupils between 5th and 7th grade at two primary schools. These schools can be characterized as quite mundane and average according to size, pedagogic approach and organization. Both schools have gained former experience from tablet-use by having participated in a pilot-project in 2015, one year before our data-gathering started. To gain insight into discourses and negotiating processes around different experience from using tablets and other learning material, we chose a focus group approach. All interviews took place at the schools with 5 – 6 pupils in each group. Six interviews took place during springtime in 2016 and six interviews in 2017. The interviews are supplemented by observations in four hours in four classrooms, focusing on what pupils and teachers were actually doing with the tablets in combination with other learning material. The interview-guide contained questions about how they used tablets and other material in the classroom, how they experienced teaching including tablets, how the teacher used to do with tablets and other materials, how they would compare using tablets at school versus at home/ leisure, and how they experienced the rules regulating the use of tablets. All interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, and they were analyzed in accordance with the themes mentioned; a thematic-analysis approach. This is a qualitative approach which is used to search across the material to identify, analyze and report on repeating themes or patterns emerging from within the data. Thematic analysis also allows one to draw on relevant theory and personal experiences from the field (Bernard & Ryan, 2010). There are of course some limitations to a small-scale study which is mainly based on analyzes of twelve interviews. For example, the results cannot be transferred to other situations with the use of tablets in school. However, individual experiences and reflections on the use of digital technology can tell something important about how learning activities in classrooms are changing. We find support for this in other studies of tablets in school (Skarpaas et al., 2015; Jahnke & Kumar, 2014), as well as in studies of digital technology in education in general (Selwyn, 2016; Wertch, 1998). This small-scale study confirms findings from others studies and it nuances these to some extent.
Expected conclusions/findings This case-study provides insight into how digital technology might change traditional learning processes and educational practices. The presentation discusses selected examples on pupil`s reflections on their use of tablets at school and outside. What is evident from the preliminary results is that when tablets, understood as new cultural tools (Wertsch, 1998) meet established classroom practice, a number of tensions arise. For instance, pupils describe learning activities with tablets as highly engaging, but at the same time as strictly regulated in ways that make them less meaningful and motivating. Such tensions can be seen as related to well-known dichotomies such as new/traditional practices, pupils/teacher roles, formal/informal learning, and media practices inside/outside of schools, to mention a few. The examples presented illustrate how pupils manage the balance between new and existing “mindsets” (Knobel & Lankshear, 2006) related to learning and educational practices. By focusing on young pupil`s interpretations of learning resources, methods, media practices and learning contexts, the paper contributes to expand public and academic debates that limits itself to highlight how potentially transformative modern technology might change educational practice. The paper is relevant to Nordic and European educational research by highlighting the importance of investigating how young people interpret media practices within certain pedagogical and contextual frames. The relevance also arises from our argumentation that rest on the assumption that technology and anticipated benefits for educational purposes cannot be studied detached from specific participants and pedagogical contexts.
Arntzen, L. (2013). Se min skole. En studie av elevenes tilstedeværelse i klasserommet. Master- oppgave i pedagogikk, Universitetet i Tromsø, Tromsø. Bernard, H. R., & Ryan, G. W. (2010). Analyzing qualitative data: Systematic approaches. Los Angeles: Sage. Bjørgen, A. M. & Erstad, O. (2014). The connected child: tracing digital literacy from school to leisure, Pedagogies: An International Journal, 10:2, 113-127, DOI: 10.1080/1554480X.2014.977290 Buckingham, D. (2003). Media education: Literacy, learning and contemporary culture. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bulfin, S., & North, S. (2007). Negotiating digital literacy practices across school and home: Case studies of young people in Australia. Language and Education, 21(3), 247–263. doi:10.2167/le750.0 Burnett, C., Merchant, G., Pahl, K & Rowsell, J. (2014). The (im)materiality of literacy: the significance of subjectivity to new literacies research. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35(1), 90-103. Clarke, W. & Luckin, R. (2013). What the research says. iPads in the classroom. London Knowledge Lab (report): https://digitalteachingandlearning.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/ipads-in-the-classroom-report-lkl.pdf Drotner, K. (2008). Leisure is hard work: Digital practices and future competences. In Buckingham, D. (ed.) (2008): Youth, identity, and digital media (pp. 167–184). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Fritze, Y. (2004). Mediet gør en forskel : en komparativ undersøgelse af kommunikation i nærundervisning og fjernundervisning. Phd-afhandling. Syddansk Universitet, Odense Jahnke, I. & Kumar, S. (2014). Digital Didactical Designs: Teachers’ Integration of iPads for Learning-Centered Processes. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 30(3), 81-88. DOI: 10.1080/21532974.2014.891876 Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006). New literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Luhmann, N. (2000). Sociale systemer – grundrids til en almen teori. København: Hans Reitzels forlag. Selwyn, N. (2011). Digitally distanced learning: a study of international distance learners’ (non)use of technology. Distance Education, 32(1), 85-99. DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2011.565500 Selwyn, N. (2016). Digital downsides: exploring university students’ negative engagements with digital technology. In Teaching ing higher education, 2016. Vol. 21(8), 1006–1021. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2016.1213229 Skarpaas, K.G., Ingulfsen, L. & Gilje, Ø. (2015). “In my spare time I like to…” En casestudie i prosjektet ARK&APP, engelsk, 5. klasse [casestudy English in 5th grade]. University of Oslo (report): http://www.uv.uio.no/iped/forskning/prosjekter/ark-app/publikasjoner/downloads/rapport-9-engelsk-5-kl.pdf Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as action. New York: Oxford University Press.
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