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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 6. Contact Points: The Ways


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At the beginning of this project, as I started learning my way around the nooks and crannies of the townhouses, listening to participants and observing their work, I struggled to understand what kind of learning and knowing teachers were bringing to presence. How would I know when or if digital making and learning pedagogies were becoming enacted, or if I was simply seeing the same old stuff, but with fancy new tools? Gradually, as months ticked past, and as multiple conversations and impromptu observations accumulated, I began to notice that casual comments in the hallways, interview responses, and observations in classrooms and FabLabs connected with characteristics of 21st-century learning behaviors that I had begun to gather in the framework-assemblage of digital making and learning (Table 2). As I sorted transcripts and field notes, and kept looking at the photos, videos, and other artifacts I was collecting, including lesson plans, assessment rubrics, and other artifacts, I realized that I was encountering certain kinds of comments and activities over and over again—turns of phrases, concerns, enthusiasms, questions, classroom activities. These repetitions came to form in my mind a kind of condensate that felt like a residue of experience, like a dampness on my clothing after a passing rain shower. ← 127 | 128 →

To illustrate how this growing awareness of the materiality of practice affected the course of my research, recall the conversation about jazz and the industrial...

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