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Researching New Literacies

Design, Theory, and Data in Sociocultural Investigation


Edited By Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear

This book provides an expansive guide for designing and conducting robust qualitative research across a diverse range of purposes concerned with understanding new literacies in theory and in practice. It is based on the idea that one of the best ways of learning how to do good research is by closely following the approaches taken by excellent researchers. This volume brings together a group of internationally reputed qualitative researchers who have investigated new literacies from a sociocultural perspective. These contributors offer "under the hood" accounts of how they have adapted existing research approaches and, where appropriate, developed new ones to frame their research theoretically and conceptually, collected and analyzed their data, and discussed their analytic results in order to achieve their research purposes. Each chapter, based on a substantial and successful study undertaken by the researchers, addresses the research process from one or more of the following emphases: theory and design, data collection, and data analysis and interpretation. Core elements discussed in each chapter include research purposes and questions; theoretical and conceptual framing; data collection and analysis; research findings and implications; and limitations, glitches, and difficulties experienced in the research process.

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Chapter Eleven: “There’s a Relationship”: Negotiating Cell Phone Use in the High School Classroom (Anita S. Charles)


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“There’s A Relationship”

Negotiating Cell Phone Use in the High School Classroom


I glance around the classroom of undergraduate students. I notice the girl with her iPhone conspicuously in the open, thumbs moving rapidly across the screen; the young man at the back who has pulled his own phone from a pocket to check the time; the two students who are smiling over something on a laptop screen. Together, we are embedded in societal realities and cultural artifacts that define (and are defined by) our interactions with each other. Smartphones and other digital spaces are ubiquitous—my own iPhone rests on the desk in front of me. It serves as my timekeeper, note-taker, and calendar, a source of quickly accessible information, and—yes—sometimes a repository of messages to and from others. But how do I establish and enforce rules around such devices in a classroom setting? I struggle with the balance between an authoritarian zero-tolerance policy and a laissez-faire permissive response to what I know I cannot control.

In countless daily moments similar to this scenario described here, teachers at every level—elementary, secondary, and beyond—and in every type of school across the U.S. struggle to define rules around the use of digital devices. Teachers must reflect on their own attitudes and beliefs around the purpose of these tools; on technology’s impact, for better or worse, on student...

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