Appropriating technologies in educational practices : studies in the contexts of compulsory education, higher education, and fighter pilot training
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are viewed as progressive technologies. Normally this view entails general assertions – in the future tense – that ICT will be the solu-tion to a wide variety of problems. The thesis argues that generic assertions about the benefits of ICT are insufficient for understanding the role of technology in educational practices. Therefore, the overall purpose of the thesis is to investigate – in the present tense – how technologies are appropriated i.e. how groups and individuals make use of physical and cognitive resources in their daily practices. Particularly, the thesis aims at describing the conditions of technology appropriation in the contexts investigated and at giving a theo-retical account of the conditions of appropriation. The particular practices investigated are schools ranging from primary to upper secondary, higher education, and military pilot training. Methodologically a qualitative approach is applied. Data from participant observations, audio recordings, and informal talks are analyzed by means of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). The thesis is divided into three main sections. The first section, "Approaching the Field", is an introductory section in which the perspec-tive of the research area and the methodological approach are presented. The second section, "Empirical Studies", contains the four studies. In the first of these, Making Sense of ICT in Class, it is argued that tools are adapted to existing practices rather than being agents of change. The main contribution of the study is a theoretical model showing how practitioners make sense of their practice. The second study, Practicing Distance Education, argues that even if cutting-edge technology is available, it will still be used for traditional teaching. The argument put forth is that instructional approaches are dependent on and must be con-sidered in relation to educational content. The third study, Disseminating ICT in Educational Practice, contains detailed descriptions of eight educational practices. Still, it is mainly theoretical. An activity theoretical analysis makes possible the focus on crucial aspects of changing educational practices. Thus, it is a contribution to widened and new ways of viewing changing educational practices. The fourth study, Conditions of Learning in Fighter Pilot Training, analyzes the institutional practices of a military setting. Like the previous study, it contains detailed descriptions of the training practice and an activity theoretical analysis, in this case resulting in proposals for a changed practice. The last section, "Conclusions", contains reflections of how the characteristics of the different contexts influence the utilization of technology. It is argued that appropriation will be dependent on the perceived affordances of the technology and not on some inherent qualty of the technology. Thus, the meaningfulness is not intrinsic to technologies. Instead, meaning arises in a process of interpretation and interaction between participants and between participants and technologies. The section ends with a model relating the theoretical concepts to the empirical findings of the four studies.
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Education
Sal D3 50 Pedagogen, Frölundag 118, Mölndal kl. 09.15
Date of defence
Göteborg : Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis
communities of practice
Göteborg studies in educational sciences