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Learning to Teach in the Digital Age

New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools


Sean Justice

Learning to Teach in the Digital Age tells the story of a group of K–12 teachers as they began to connect with digital making and learning pedagogies. Guiding questions at the heart of this qualitative case study asked how teaching practices engaged with and responded to the maker movement and digital making and learning tools and materials. Over the course of one school year, Sean Justice attended to the ebb and flow of teaching and learning at an independent K–12 girls school the northeastern United States. Teachers and administrators from across grade levels and academic domains participated in interviews and casual conversations, and opened their classrooms to ad hoc observations. In conducting the study, Justice interwove a sociomaterial disposition with new materialism, posthumanism, and new media theory. Methods were inspired by narrative inquiry and actor-network theory. Findings suggested that digital making and learning pedagogies were stabilizing at the school, but not in a linear way. Further, Justice suggests that the teaching practices that most engaged the ethos of twenty-first-century learning enacted a kind of learning we hear about from artists, writers, scientists, and mathematicians when they talk about what innovation feels like, leading to the proposition that a different kind of language is needed to describe the effects of digital materialities on teaching practice.
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Chapter 11. What Was Learned


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· 11 ·


This study began with the desire to learn how, or if, teachers’ use of digital making tools and materials affected their practice. As it turned out, the assumptions embedded in that simplistically linear proposition threw me a curve as soon as I tangled with the complexities of day-to-day practice at the school. In this chapter I’ll summarize what I’ve learned. First, I’ll review the connections and resistance I encountered. And second, I’ll highlight some of the missed and approaching opportunities for teaching and learning in makerspaces and digital media labs that I observed.

Summary of the Study

Enacting Digital Making and Learning Pedagogies

With the typology of the Ways and Challenges (Table 6) I sought to identify digital making and learning pedagogy by holding teaching practices as entities, or things, or as enacted materialities, and by attempting to trace associations between existing and emergent ways of teaching. This sense of practice was derived from closely attending to what participants were saying and doing. As a description of teaching practice, and how teaching changes, I linked the ← 221 | 222 → emergence of digital making and learning to the literature of various learning and knowing traditions, including maker education, art education, and digital media learning—which is also known as situated or connected learning (as described in Chapter 2); and to a notion of digital materiality and its affordances that I derived from new materialism...

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