Invited SIG Technology and Literacy Education (SIG TALE) Symposium: Agency, Technology and Teaching L1
Scott Bulfin, Monash University, Australia
Nikolaj Elf, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Dimitrios Koutsοgiannis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Nikolaj Elf and Scott Bulfin
Agency is a notion widely used in sociolinguistic and educational research. In a L1 perspective, it is often used as a positive term in relation to technology as it is linked, for example, to empowerment, creativity and development of voice through writing or other productive multimodal practices. However, theoretical developments in late 20th and early 21st century, including a post-anthropocentric perspective, have suggested a revised understanding of human agency arguing that technology decenters the subject’s agency and that this hold implications for education and teaching and learning. From a L1 perspective, these developments in the thinking of agency and technology are scarcely reflected both in theory and practice. The aim of the present symposium is to shed light on the potential understanding and relationship of the three notions and their implications for L1 research and practice. Six contributions offer varying conceptualisations of agency and explore the value of these approaches in relation to L1 practices in a wide variety of contexts across the world. The discussant will comment on the contributions and offer reflections from theoretical, methodological and policy perspectives for further plenary discussion.
Overview of presentations:
Moderator: Scott Bulfin
I) Possibilities for agency? Exploring the interface of the digital humanities and L1 literary education (McLean, Sawyer, Bode)
II) “That was me, clicking and touching to do exactly what I wanted to”: Reading literary apps and perceiving agency (Acerra)
III) How a survey of young people’s skills in digital literacy highlights issues regarding their digital agency (Lacelle, Lebrun, Boutin)
Discussion (part I): Emeritus Professor Bill Green, Charles Stuart University
Moderator: Nikolaj Elf
IV) Literacy in digitalised secondary school classroom: Reflections on transitional practices (Nygaard & Skaftun)
V) Family, children’s digital literacy practices and education: Revising the connection (Koutsogiannis & Adampa)
VI) Agency, Technology and Teaching Practices in L1 classrooms: Paradoxes, complexities, restrictions and possibilities in Greek-Cypriot Literacy Education (Kontovourki & Poyiadji)
Discussion (part II): Emeritus Professor Bill Green, Charles Stuart University
Format: 15 minutes’ presentations. Discussant: 10 minutes in each session.
- Larissa McLean Davies & Wayne Sawyer
Digital humanities; digital collections; secondary literary education; literary knowledge
The tertiary discipline of Digital Humanities, as it is expanding and being practiced worldwide, involves as a core focus the analysis – and sometimes the creation – of expansive digital collections using methods such as network analysis, geospatial modelling and computational textual analysis. Digital Humanities approaches and practices shift understanding of disciplines, such as literary studies. For example, in Australia, Bode’s work has identified over 21,000 novels, novellas and short stories, from canonical, popular and unknown Australian and international authors, that were published in 19th and early 20th century newspapers digitised by the National Library of Australia’s Trove website (Bode 2018). Available through the open-access To be continued database (Bode & Hetherington 2017), this massively expanded record of Australian literature and literature in Australia complicates divisions of nation and canon, and print and digital text and technologies.
Such digital collections and methods alter the ways in which both citizens and nations are textually mediated and require new literate practices. While Digital Humanities approaches are transforming literary studies at the tertiary level (e.g. Burrows 1987; Craig & Kinney 2009; Murray 2003) an investigation of how these approaches might inform and reshape L1 literary secondary education is required. In light of this, this paper asks: ‘How do these digital archives change our understanding of literary work and literary knowledge? How might digital humanities approaches support or bound student agency in the L1 classroom?’ And ‘What are the implications of development in the field of the Digital Humanities for L1 curriculum making teaching, and for understandings of the nexus between literacy and literature (Green 2002)? Presenters will address these questions through analysis of user interactions with the To be continued database. They will report on a pilot project designed to explore the affordances of digital collections and their attendant pedagogies in classroom practice in Australia.
Bode, K. (2018). A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Bode, K. & Hetherington, C. (2017). To Be Continued: The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database. http://cdhrdatasys.anu.edu.au/tobecontinued/.
Burrows, J. (1987) Computation into criticism. Oxford: OUP.
Craig, H. & Kinney, A. (2009) Shakespeare, computers, and the mystery of authorship. Cambridge: CUP.
Green, B. (2002) ‘A literacy project of our own?’ English in Australia 134: 25-32.
Murray, S. (2003) ‘Media convergence’s third wave: Content streaming.’ Convergence 9(1): 8-18.
- Eleonora Acerra
literary apps, multimodal literacy, agency
Literary children apps can be described as multimodal and interactive techno-literary contents, that rely on their young readers’ gestural manipulations (Bouchardon, 2014) to produce their meaning. As ergodic contents (Aarseth, 1997), they imply a “non-trivial” intervention on the screen and a system of meaningful actions intended to translate an “actualised interpretation” (Jeanneret, 2000) of the reader.
This physical and deliberate participation seems to depend (besides technological and reading skills) (Lacelle, Boutin, Lebrun, 2017) on a specific understanding of the functions of the empirical bodies in the fictional space, as well as on an individual response to the techno-literary codes and constraints of the digital text. In this perspective, interactions in literary apps appear to renew the notion of agency, which is defined by Murray as “the satisfying power to take meaningful action and see the results of our decisions and choices” (1997, p. 126). How do in fact children perceive agency, when their actions, decisions and choices are determined by the narrative? How do they perform their gestural interpretations (Noland, 2009) in a technologically determined environment? How do they consider (and manage to solve) the hiatus between the virtually unlimited gestural possibilities offered by the device and the constraints of the (techno)literary text? Is it possible to detect different forms of agency in their verbal and non-verbal expressions?
This contribution is aimed at offering some preliminary answers to those questions, through the analysis of the reception of four literary apps (Moi, j’attends… (2013), Le lapin bricoleur (2015), Mon voisin (2012) and Avec quelques briques (2014)), read by nine children in Montréal, Québec. Data were collected through an observation of the reading process and a semi-structured interview with each pupil. Findings indicate that children express their agency through their conscious response to interactivity (Frederico, 2018) and perceive their power relation towards the possibility of co-building the story, engaging with the fictional world and ergodically actualising their interpretations. In conclusion, we will define some features of the specific kind of agency promoted by literary apps, that hinge upon the negotiation of the readers’ positions towards the text and the digital environment.
Aarseth, E. J. (1997). Cybertext: perspectives on ergodic literature. Baltimore (Md.), USA and UK: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Bouchardon, S. (2014). “Figures of gestural manipulation in digital fictions”, in Bell, A., Ensslin, A., Rustad, H. (dir.) Analyzing digital fiction, London, UK: Routledge, 159-175.
Frederico, A. (2018). Embodiment and agency in digital reading: preschoolers making meaning with literary apps. (Unpublished PhD Thesis). Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK.
Jeanneret, Y. (2000). Y a-t-il vraiment des technologies de l’information? Paris, France: Éd. universitaires du Septentrion.
Lacelle, N., Boutin, J.-F et Lebrun, M. (2017). Littératie médiatique appliquée en contexte numérique- LMM@. Outils conceptuels et didactiques. Québec, Québec: PUQ.
Murray, J. H. (1997). Hamlet on the holodeck: the future of narrative in cyberspace. New York, USA: Free Press.
Noland, C. (2009). Agency and embodiment. Performing gestures / producing culture. Harvard university Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England.
Avec quelques briques, Clea Dieudonne, 2014.
Le lapin bricoleur, e-Toiles, 2015.
Moi, j’attends, France Télévision, 2013.
Mon voisin, Éditions des Braques et Tralalère, 2012.
- Nathalie Lacelle & Moniques Richard
multimodal literacy, digital agency, digital competence
As part of a multimodal media literacy (MML) study conducted in a digital context to train students for research and creation, we investigated the informational, technological and multimodal skills students develop outside of school. The knowledge of these skills should help us build, validate and implement tools for carrying out research or creative work in school with respect for the various potentials (equity) and for the purpose of digital commitment of each. Our position towards new literacies aligns with those of Leu et al (2013), Coiro (2012) and the RAND Reading Study Group (2002) who have collaborated actively in developing approaches to develop new skills related to new literacies, such as their ability to read, search, produce information, as well as communicate and create using digital tools.
There is a great disparity among young people in regards to their digital skills and uses. Coiro and Schira-Hagerman (2013) reveal that youth focus on content without developing a critical eye, while ignoring how to organize, evaluate, and link such content. It is important to describe the varied practices of young people in informal contexts such as when using digital and multimodal literacies at home (browsing, research, creation, communicating via forums or social media, dissemination and sharing of multimodal productions). It is then necessary to accompany the transfer of these skills in more formal contexts so that a true MML develops. Moreover, it becomes a question of empowerment for these young people. Drawing from the work of Passey and his colleagues (2018) on the importance of digital agency and its three components (digital competence, digital confidence, and digital accountability), this paper will first demonstrate how our survey and interviews with young Quebec high school students touch on each of these concepts by investigating the digital skills of respondents, the expressions of confidence in their digital abilities, and finally, their sense of responsibility for their digital actions. Then, we will document how knowledge about youth digital agency has inspired our teams of students, teachers, artists and digital specialists to co-create didactic L1 reading/production design using digital, human, thematic and material resources in school.
Coiro, J. & Hagerman, M.S. (2013). Digging deeper: Online reading comprehension and collaborative inquiry. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/mschirahagerman/7- 1516- digging-deeperonlineinquiry-digiuri-24275493
Coiro, J. (2012, April). Digital Literacies: Understanding dispositions toward reading on the Internet. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(7), 645-648.
Leu, D.J., Forzani, E., Burlingame, C., Kulikowich, J. Sedransk, N., Coiro, J., & Kennedy, C. (2013). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Assessing and preparing students for the 21st century with common core state standards. In Neuman, S. B. & Gambrell, L.B. (Eds.), Massey, C. (Assoc. Ed.) (2013). Reading instruction in the age of common core standards. (pp. 219-236). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Passey,D., Shonfeld, M, Appleby, L., Judge, M., Saito, T., Smits, A. (2018), Digital Agency: Empowering Equity in and through Education, Technology, Knowledge and Learning 23 , 425–439
RAND Reading Study Group (2002). Reading for Understanding, toward an R&D
- Arne Olav Nygard & Atle Skaftun
transitional practices; digital teaching practices; technology and student agency; dialogue
Digitalisation of Norwegian schools is an accelerating process, and increasingly one-to-one- solutions are chosen across year levels based on regional policy decisions. The Response project was an early stage study of how technology affected literacy practices in secondary school. In this paper we will report findings from the Response project with a particular focus on the L1 subject, as a basis for discussing technologically mediated changes in educational practice in general and student agency in particular.
The project had an ethnographically oriented qualitative case design, and it was basically concerned with how technology might contribute to engaging students and changing the eligibility conditions for participation (van Leeuwen, 2008) in classroom practices. Dialogic space (Wegerif, 2013) was a key concept in the project, and student agency was conceived of as the opportunity to be an active part of the meaning making process in school (Mortimer & Scott, 2003.
Fjord is a medium sized Norwegian municipality with three schools spanning Year 1-10, conceived of as an embedded case in the project. Starting autumn 2014 all students received a personal computer when they entered lower secondary school, i.e. Year 8. We followed the students (all together 7 classrooms) from Year 8 autumn 2014 throughout Year 10. Our data consists of fieldnotes, photos and summaries of 176 observed lessons, student’s texts, transcribed interviews with students, teachers, school leaders and administrators, alongside plans and documents concerning the school contexts.
Analysis and results
On a short timescale, technology contributes to what is perceived by teachers and students as abrupt changes and disturbances, as well as productive confrontations between traditional practices and new technology. As part of these confrontations we observed experiments with making dialogic space in writing processes in L1 alongside the general impression of digitalising traditional tasks. On a longer timescale it seems that the new technology is quickly integrated into the everyday life of secondary school. Expanding the view to the history of literacy technologies, it might seem that traditional practices and adherring eligibility conditions for participation prevails and subsumes the potential for innovative practices mediated by the new technology. None of these timescales alone deserves to define digitalisation of literacy practices in school. We suggest that the practices observed are conceived of as transitional or as in becoming, and that making technology available is a productive condition for long term changes concerning student agency in the L1 subject and in school in general.
Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (2003). Meaning Making In Secondary Science Classrooms. Maidenhead, Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Skaftun, A., Igland, M.-A., Husebø, D., Nome, S., & Nygard, A. O. (2017). Glimpses of dialogue: transitional practices in digitalised classrooms. Learning, Media and Technology, 0(0), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2017.1369106
Leeuwen, T. van. (2008). Discourse and Practice: New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford University Press.
Wegerif, R. (2013). Dialogic: Education for the Internet Age (1 edition). London ; New York, NY: Routledge.
- Dimitrios Koutsogiannis & Vasiliki Adampa
Reconceptualising family; children’s digital literacies; globalisation
There is an interesting research tradition that connects family ideologies with ways of educating their children in print-based literacy and reveals that these different ways with literacy play a crucial role in their children’s educational trajectories (Heath 1983, Lareau, 2003). After the wide use of new technologies as literacy practice environments, and under the influence of the ‘new literacies studies’ (Gee, 2010:9), there is a clear turn in research. The importance of these three parameters, that is, family – literacy – education, seems to have dramatically changed into a new combination: technology – children – education. In this new frame, technology is constructed as agentive in that it provides children with the opportunity to activate productive literate identities, whereas schools have been constructed as outdated, and the role of family has been ignored to a great extent. This turn is best understood under a wider epistemological change that shifts the focus from systems and institutions to personal agentive initiatives, and from an anthropocentric view to a “post-human perspective” (Pennycook, 2016). Such a turn can be attributed to many recent developments, among them the spirit of neoliberalism.
The main argument of the present contribution is that it is necessary to re-focus on the family’s role as a very important agent in a radically different economic, cultural and technological milieu. Our discussion will be based on two extensive research projects (2006-2007 and 2011-2015) that focused on children’s in and out-of-school literacy practices and the role of their families. Our data (children’s ethnographic case studies, interviews with parents, questionnaires completed by children) so far indicate (Koutsogiannis 2009, 2015) that children’s digital literacy practices are very much influenced by their families’ demographic data (e.g. socio-economic and educational variables) and ideologies. It is also revealed that families’ (conscious or not) practices and ‘designs’ (Kress, 2010), in terms of preparing their children for an unstable world, are informed by local and global (ideological) resources about (digital) literacies and the future of their children. Finally, it is indicated that new media play an important role in the rearticulation of the relationship among parents, children and literacy.
Gee, J.P. (2010). New digital media and learning as an emerging area and ‘worked examples’ as one way forward. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Koutsogiannis, D. (2009). Discourses in researching children’s digital literacy practices. Reviewing the ‘home/school mismatch hypothesis’ in the globalization era. In D. Koutsogiannis and M. Arapopoulou (eds). Literacy, new technologies and education: Aspects of the local and the global (207–230). Thessaloniki: Zitis.
Koutsogiannis, D. (2015). Translocalization in digital writing, orders of literacy, and schooled literacy. In S. Bulfin, N. Johnson, & C. Bigum (Eds.), Critical perspectives on technology and education (183-202). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. New York: Routledge.
Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Pennycook, A. (2018). Posthumanist Applied Linguistics. Applied Linguistics, V. 39, 4: 445–461.
- Stavroula Kontovourki & Evie Poyiadji
Keywords: technology, literacy pedagogy, teaching practices, identity building
This presentation explores the ways in which sedimented notions of literacy pedagogy and teacher identity complicate the agentive potentials often attributed to technology-use in school classrooms. It particulalry focuses on the teaching practices of five elementary school teachers in the Republic of Cyprus to answer questions on how identity and knowledge are composed in performative acts that temporarilly emerge in contextualized meaning-making processes that combine both material and immaterial forces.
The study is theoretically grounded in post-structural understandings of performance and literacy research that, combined, help understand literacy practices as implicating the discursive formation of identities, the embodied performance of normalized meanings of literacy, and the emergence of experience with/in material conditions (e.g., artifacts, texts, spaces) (Burnett et al.; 2014; Youdell, 2006). This allows the examination of practice, identity, and agency as possibilities to both solidify and transform, as the boundaries among given categories (human - non-human, old-new) are stabilized and destabilized (e.g., Barad, 2003; Jackson, 2013).
The presentation draws on two research studies that relied on case-study methodology to examine the enactment of L1 curricula in elementary classrooms where technology was differentially integrated. Thematic analysis was utilized to compare and contrast how teachers designed conditions for children’s engagement with tools, discourses, and one another, drawing on im/material resources (e.g., equipment, textbooks, curricula, values, and priorities) available at their school and institutional context.
Discussing teaching and learning in these classrooms made evident the complexity of learning, identity and agency in L1 settings, given that there were noteable disparities across as well as within the cases under study. On one hand, the use of digital media enabled the transformation of classrooms into digital literacy communities. On the other hand, rather than engaging in transformative acts often linked to the integration of technology in L1 teaching, teachers relied most on those technologies that reified their pedagogical roles, and yet concurrently hybridized old and new understandings of being literate in school. As much of this complexity resulted in paradoxes regarding established meanings of literacy and identity, this presentation contributes to understanding identity and knowledge building by drawing connections among agency, technology, and L1 teaching.
Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3), 801-831.
Burnett, C., Merchant, G., Pahl, K., & Rowsell, J. (2014). The (im)materiality of literacy: the significance of subjectivity to new literacies research. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35(1), 90-103, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2012.739469
Jackson, A. Y. (2013). Posthumanism data analysis of mangling practices. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(6), 741-748. DOI: 10.1080/09518398.2013.788762
Youdell, D. (2006). Impossible Bodies, Impossible Selves: Exclusions and Student Subjectivities. Dordrecht, NL: Springer.