Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Exploring the Relationship between Sanctioned and Unsanctioned Laptop Use in a 1:1 Classroom

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Exploring the Relationship between Sanctioned and Unsanctioned Laptop Use in a 1:1 Classroom

Article excerpt

Introduction

"Surveillance software? No way! We'll take the discussion--if it is needed. " "Problems with unsanctioned use? Maybe they occasionally do things I don't want them to do. But, on the other hand, I think they did that prior the laptop as well. " (Excerpts from an interview with a secondary school teacher)

In a 1:1-classroom (i.e., the students are each provided with a laptop), teachers are confronted with constant tension between two parallel agendas: either promoting laptop use that is desired and sanctioned, or preventing laptop use that is not welcome nor sanctioned (Fried, 2008; Kay & Lauricella, 2011; Trimmel & Bachmann, 2004). Results from earlier research revealed a preconceived belief among teachers that there is a reciprocal relationship between the two agendas (Tallvid, 2010). The idea originates from the presumption that the more students engage in activities they are not supposed to, the less they are likely to harvest the potential benefits from using the laptop the way they should and vice versa. However, there is no earlier research that can confirm or confute this relationship.

We will report on a study of how students in two Swedish secondary schools used their laptops in their everyday educational activities. The use of laptops in these schools is regulated by discussing norms for use, rather than by introducing formal rules or technical restrictions. The data does not focus on laptop use as being part of specifically designed educational tasks, but rather on the everyday use of the laptops. This includes taking notes, or listening to music during class, as well as use that is not sanctioned by the teachers, such as playing games or chatting.

The purpose of the study was to examine how a 1:1 laptop initiative in two schools affected student use of laptops. Our intention was not to evaluate a particular technology or method for using ICT, nor to investigate if students learn more or less with their mobile devices. In our perspective, the laptop and other tools in a classroom are culturally and historically situated, and thus we need to understand and study this context to appreciate the circumstances surrounding the use. In such a perspective, the laptops are tools and are part of what constitutes a social practice. Therefore, questions about the character of the tools, how they are employed in practice, what knowledge is needed to be able to use them, how such knowledge is learned, and how they need to be negotiated into the day-to-day practice are of interest. Hence, the methods to study the implementation of ICT in schools have to be adapted. We consider it essential to conduct studies of day-to-day use of ICT, in order to understand the consequences of the use (Selwyn, 2011). Experimental studies focusing on the introduction of new technologies certainly have a place, but we also need to look more into the non-experimental, routine, and present use of technology by students. Such an approach accentuates the interdependence of both the social processes and individual use in the classroom. The focus of interest in this article is thus not on learning or teaching, but on student activities and use of ICT in a learning context.

Two research questions were investigated.

* What is the relationship between sanctioned and unsanctioned laptop use in a 1:1 classroom, where use is regulated by discussing norms for use, rather than by introducing formal rules or technical restrictions?

* How does the students' use of laptops in a 1:1 classroom change over time?

Laptops in the classroom--relevant research

Laptops connected to the Internet offer several opportunities for use in the classroom. Potential benefits and pitfalls have been studied since laptops were introduced in educational settings, and educational reformers have presented wireless laptops as the next great educational innovation (e.g., Brown & Petitto, 2003). …

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