Maker spaced

Over the past forty or so years, educational institutions have been keen to incorporate the latest digital technologies into teaching and learning in efforts to increase student engagement, innovation, and prepare future workers. Presently, Maker Spaces are hyped as holding potential for K-12 schooling with the capacity to enhance opportunities for students to engage with […]

Schools, technology and commercial agendas …

Digital technologies have extended the commercialization of schools into new realms. From Microsoft and Google, through to News Corporation and thousands of far smaller ‘Ed-Tech’ start-ups, digital technologies have positioned for-profit interests at the center of how public schooling is now funded, organized and delivered. This variety of enterprise reflects the fact that schools and […]

Communicative disruptions

Media can be used in various ways, and particular forms of media are shaped by the ways that people use them for communication. New media is always closely intertwined with communication and/or technology, and is an assemblage of some sort. I currently sit in some junior secondary classrooms to observe as a researcher and am […]

Desktop configuration

  As part of many schools’ ‘one-to-one’ programs, students are loaned their ‘own’ devices during their time at school. Various aspects of these devices can be configured by the student – such as screensavers, backgrounds and other ‘personal system preferences’. At the same time, these devices are also used to configure the students, with standardized […]

Hunting for the ghosts of dead media

<file under dead-tech>   Schools are haunted by ghosts of old technologies – such as the chalkboard, text-book, overhead projector, attendance register and report card. The technical principles of these ‘dead media’ remain even though the technological artefacts might not. As Eugene Thacker (2014, p.129) puts it: “with dead media, the object is no longer in use, but […]

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. […]

Digitising student engagement: A logic of learning or a logic of control?

Commonly accepted as an essential prerequisite for academic success, student engagement continues to be a preoccupation of mainstream discourses at all levels of education (e.g., Gourlay, 2015; Coates, 2010; Prensky, 2010; Kuh, 2009). The dominant conception of engagement aligns around cognitive, behavioural, and affective dimensions. Cognitive engagement is the most difficult to pin down, but […]

What use is sociology?

As he moves into his nineties, the work of Zygmunt Bauman remains as prescient as ever. Bauman’s long view on societal shifts in late (or, as he prefers, liquid) modernity has always merited close attention. The succession of slim volumes of edited interviews and conversations with Bauman – such as the recent ‘What Use is […]

Digging the dirt

We tend to think of digital technologies in pristine, clean, idealized terms. Much of the immediate allure of any newly purchased digital device stems from the shiny surfaces and smooth contours – an assemblage of tempered glass, brushed aluminum and toughened plastics. The fact that we continue to imagine digital devices in these ‘box fresh’ terms means that it […]

Toward a digital sociology of school

Accepted chapter abstract for: ‘The Digital Sociology Handbook‘ (eds. Jessie Daniels, Karen Gregory & Tressive McMillan Cottom).   The proliferation of digital technologies into schools and schooling clearly merits renewed and sustained sociological attention. This chapter will provide an overview of the key issues, including questions and methods that digital sociology can bring to bear on […]