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One-school-for-all As Practice – A Nexus Analysis of Everyday Digitalization Practices

  • Almén, Lars
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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The Government of Sweden formulated a strategy in 2017 to digitalize the entire Swedish educational system. The government summarizes this strategy through three focus areas: (i) all parts of the school system shall have equitable digital competence, (ii) all parts of the school system shall have equal access to and usage of digital tools, and (iii) research and follow-up of the possibilities of digitalization shall be conducted. The impetus for the digitalization strategy was that despite the long history of the Swedish school system’s digitalization, there existed major differences in access to digital tools between different schools and individual students. Further, differences existed in digital competence between different actors in the school system. The point of departure in this compilation thesis is the 2017 governmental digitalization strategy, with a special focus on discourses of digital tools as compensatory tools and tools for inclusion. The compensatory and inclusive perspectives are conceptualized as the one-school-for-all discourse. Three research questions guide the thesis. These cover discourses at macro (policy), and micro (classroom) levels, and temporal spaces before the enactment and in the implementation processes of the digitalization strategy. Nexus analysis is used as an analytical framework. This draws on a sociocultural perspective and an ethnographically inspired framework. The ethnographic data material that this thesis builds upon comprises of audio and video recordings, fieldnotes, policy documents, student work sheets, and timetables. The classroom data (recordings, fieldnotes, etc.) are from grades 7 and 8 in five secondary schools in one small and one medium-sized municipality in southern Sweden. Here students are 13 and 14 years old. This thesis consists of four studies. The first study contributes with analysis of macro level policy discourses before the enactment of the digitalization strategy. The second study contributes with classroom discourses on digitalization from student interview accounts of the everyday use of digital tools in secondary schools before the enactment of the digitalization strategy. Based on fieldwork data from a secondary school, the third and fourth studies highlight classroom inclusion and marginalization processes. They contribute with classroom discourses in the implementation processes of the digitalization strategy. The discourses highlighted in the thesis relate to the computer room, programming, compensatory tools, hardware that is focused, identity, entertainment, and agency redistribution. The digitalization strategy is temporally demarcated in terms of a before and after of the implementation phase of the digitalization strategy. Students had ubiquitous access to digital tools after the enactment. The thesis highlights that this has both including and excluding consequences. The analysis, in particular of the fieldwork observations, indicates that the ubiquitously present digital tools are used as tools to facilitate learning only to a minor extent. Schools purchase digital tools without always considering how to use them pedagogically. Furthermore, the studies indicate the importance of teachers’ continuing education for their mastery of the pedagogical usage of digital tools. The thesis does not support the technology deterministic belief that digital tools per se facilitate learning. Instead, it highlights that pedagogical affordance can be enhanced by introducing digital tools; for instance, teachers and student’s digital competence increases when digital tools are used in creative ways, functioning as mediating tools for learning. Thus, the pedagogical value of digital tools needs to be considered before they are incorporated into schools. The thesis also argues for a more comprehensive societal perspective on digitalization.

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