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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 5. Participants and Site


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This chapter introduces the teachers and administrators who shared their work with me in interviews and casual conversations, in the classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and offices at the school, on buses, and during field trips away from the school, and even, once or twice, on the city sidewalks in the neighborhood surrounding the school. These were the primary participants of the study. Secondary participants included faculty and staff who worked at the school but did not explicitly contribute to the study; although they were not interviewed or directly observed, they nevertheless knew who I was, and were openly candid with me as we passed each other in the hallways and sat together in the cafeterias. Another class of participants includes the students. As discussed, I was studying teacher learning, so students were not interviewed or explicitly observed, but they were present, and their learning was indeed the explicit focus of every other participant’s work.

This chapter also introduces the space of the study, that is, the environment of the school, its situatedness as a learning ecology. The school cannot be considered merely a container of the study, a blank stage upon which various participants delivered their pedagogical lines, like a performance scripted by some director. Rather, following Latour (2005; Latour & Woolgar, 1979), and ← 99 | 100 → in alliance with ANT’s propensity for casting object relations as interlinked network effects, I hold the school as a densely interwoven...

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