System failure – when the network goes down

The start of a sunny Thursday at Lakeside Secondary College. The playgrounds and communal spaces are buzzing as usual. At 8.50am nobody seems to notice that the music fails to kick in as scheduled over the loudspeakers to indicate that people should start thinking about heading to their first classes. Some kids – noses buried […]

What it means to conduct a critical study of technology and schools

INTRODUCTION Ours is a deliberately critical study of schools and technology. But what does this mean in practice? Here are three aspects of our research approach that might not be obvious … and that we need to keep reminding ourselves of as our fieldwork progresses.   #1. Thinking otherwise (rather than against) Being critical of […]

Fighting familiarity in digital school ethnographies

The success of ethnographic fieldwork generally hinges on the development of close connections amongst fieldworkers, research subjects, and the phenomena under study. To stand any chance of acquiring what Malinowski called the ‘native’s point of view’, ethnographers must therefore live with, and live like, the individuals and groups being studied (in Van Maanen, 1988, pp. […]

More than words – using multi-sensory methods

Like any ethnography, our project’s generation of data will centre around speaking with people, observing what they do, and reflecting on our experiences in the field. As is also the norm in ethnographic research, this data will be processed and presented in primarily written form. We intend to make full use of interview transcripts, observation […]

Participatory de-sign: an idiotic approach

An implicit feature of our participatory design workshops is that they are unlikely to ‘work’. In fact, whether the workshops result in actual changes to school practices, policies and procedures is not our main concern. Instead, these are ‘provocative’ research activities intended to tease, test and problematize the structures and strictures of the digital school […]

Taking our methods for a walk

Taking a lead from social anthropology and geography, it is clear that movement and mobility are key elements of the everyday places and practices of digital education. As such, we need to engage in “the study of people and things in movement” (Pink 2012, p.32). This is a research project that cannot be static or […]

Why this needs to be a live(ly) study

The fast-moving nature of digital education invites us to think expansively and imaginatively about how we ‘do’ our research. This chimes with a growing appetite within the social sciences for a renewal and revitalisation of method. Put bluntly, it is becoming increasingly apparent that social research needs to look well beyond the survey, interview and […]