NP3 overview

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Mobile devices [1] are impacting on children’s and teachers’ practices in primary schools (e.g. Clark, Twining & Chambers, 2014; Jamieson-Proctor, Redmond, Zagami, Albion & Twining, 2014; Twining, 2014a) and are blurring boundaries between formal, non-formal and informal learning [2] (Falloon, 2015; Passey, 2010; Twining, 2014b). Emerging evidence (Maher & Twining, submitted; Twining, 2015) shows pupils are perceiving affordances between their practices in informal learning settings and their learning in schools, demonstrating an evolving adaptive expertise (Rogoff, 2003) and concomitant experience of agency in their learning. However, teachers are slow to incorporate these new digital practices within their pedagogy (Maher & Twining, submitted), perhaps because they do not perceive useful affordances, or know how to manage negative ones. It is important that teachers do recognise and value pupils’ new practices in order to enhance their formal learning (Gurung & Rutledge, 2014).

This research focuses on the use and impact of mobile devices on innovative pedagogic practices, social justice, and pupils’ development of digital literacy within UK primary school communities. We understand digital technology as mediational means that shape action possibilities and take a sociocultural methodological lens where practice emerges in social and institutional contexts, which mediate the possibilities for what teachers and their pupils can do and be.

NP3's original research questions (RQs) were:

  1. What are the digital practices that pupils bring to their learning in school?
  2. Across subject domains what do teachers’ intended and enacted pedagogic practices indicate about their awareness of and the value accorded to pupils’ digital competencies, and how do pupils’ experience these pedagogic practices?
  3. What institutional circumstances and practices enable or undermine how pupils’ digital competencies and practices are recognised (RQ1) and integrated into teachers’ practice (RQ2)?
  4. What are the consequences of the answers to RQs 1-3 for learning in terms of social justice, and across and within subject domains?
  5. How does the research inform how to represent and model a participative pedagogy of mutuality (Bruner, 1996; Wenger, 1998; Alexander, 2000; Murphy & Wolfenden, 2013) and engage teachers with that pedagogy? This will be addressed through the meta-analysis of data across studies.

An additional question was added about the impact that ICT was having on what and how the children were taught in schools.

This is a set of questions that has not been addressed in the digital technology in education literature thus far. This partly reflects the fact that much of the research on the use of digital technology in education has been descriptive and under-theorised. This applies to the Vital and Snapshot Studies, where the focus was on developing dimensions to describe rather than to explain practice, and specifically in formal educational settings. By applying a theoretical lens to the research this study will represent a step change, increasing the rigour and explanatory power of the work.
  1. The term ‘mobile devices’ is used in this document to refer to Internet-enabled devices such as laptops, Tablet PCs, Chromebooks, Tablets, iPods, smartphones AND their software AND the associated infrastructure (e.g. WiFi, Internet connection). The term ‘digital technology’ is used when we wish to refer more broadly to any/all digital technologies (including desktop computers for example).
  2. CEDEFOP (2008) originally conceived of learning as happening in formal settings (e.g. classrooms), non-formal settings (e.g. clubs), and informal settings (e.g. the home).