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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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New literacies emerge and evolve apace as people from all walks of life engage with new technologies, shifting values and institutional change, and increasingly assume ‘postmodern’ orientations toward their everyday worlds. Despite many efforts to take account of such changes, educational institutions largely remain out of touch with the range of new ways of making and sharing meanings that increasingly mediate and shape the lives of the young people they teach and the futures they face. This series aims to explore some key dimensions of the changes occurring within social practices of literacy and the educational challenges they present, with a view to informing educational practice in helpful ways. It asks what are new literacies, how do they impact on life in schools, homes, communities, workplaces, sites of leisure, and other key settings of human cultural engagement, and what significance do new literacies have for how people learn and how they understand and construct knowledge. It aims to challenge established and ‘official’ ways of framing literacy, and to ask what it means for literacies to be powerful, effective, and enabling under current and foreseeable conditions. Collectively, the works in this series will help to reorient literacy debates and literacy education agendas.

For further information about the series and submitting manuscripts, please contact:

Michele Knobel & Colin Lankshear Montclair State University Dept. of Education and Human Services 3173 University Hall Montclair, NJ 07043

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