Sociocultural understandings of technology-mediated educational practices: improvable objects and meaning-making trajectories in the ICT-literate classroom.
The Open University.
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Informed by sociocultural theory, this thesis addresses the gap between the view that teaching-and-learning should be an extended, integrated experience, and the limited research available on how classroom technologies can support this (Glover, et al., 2007). The research explores a new programme using technologies (including interactive whiteboards: IWBs) together with dance/movement and more traditional classroom activities to support teaching-and-learning. Data are presented from eight consecutive history lessons on the Great Fire of London with a Year 2 class (6-7 years), together with four interviews, two Video-Stimulated Reflective Dialogue sessions and a focus group. Findings are based on sociocultural discourse analysis (Mercer, 2004), multimodal analysis (Jewitt, 2009; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001) and thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) of these data.
With implications for both theory and practice, analysis shows how the IWB was used in innovative ways to offer structure and flexibility across lessons. Evidence is also provided of how exploring the topic through dance/movement, images and other activities could support pupils in building conceptual understanding. This then served as a context to develop verbally-expressed understanding. Analysis indicates, however, that confusion could arise in the different ways concepts were referred to through this integrated approach. Based on these findings, Wells’ (1999) concept of the ‘improvable object’ is extended to illustrate how flexible use of IWB slides and talk around them, and how exploring and re-versioning concepts across activities, brings new dimensions to the knowledge-construction process.
Furthermore, the importance of addressing meaning making as an interactional achievement became evident, through extension of Baldry and Thibault’s (2006) ‘meaning-making trajectory’. Analysing teacher and pupil perspectives offers valuable insights, regarding how the teacher used and improvised from his lesson plan to acknowledge pupils’ interpretations, and support ongoing meaning making. These contributions represent important understandings of knowledge construction in contemporary, technology-mediated classrooms.
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