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Teacher’s Didactical Design in Finnish 1:1 Tablet Classrooms: Perspectives on Content and Meaning
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Interactive Media and Learning (IML).
2016 (English)In: Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers, 2016Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper reports on the first year of a two-year study in Finland about Finnish teachers didactical design in one-to-one (1:1) tablet classrooms. In it’s simplest form 1:1 means that each student and teacher is equipped with a computing device. In this study all students and teachers are equipped with an Apple iPad. Compared to other European countries (EUN, 2013) the digitalisation of Finnish schools progress at a slow rate where the ratio of computers per child in year 7-9 is among the lowest, but has started to increase. The project is conducted during the transition from the 2004 national curriculum to the 2016 national curriculum. Researchers indicate that equipping each student with a digital device is a great challenge for the so-called ecology of the classroom (Håkansson Lindqvist, 2015). Aspect of digitalisation concerns wireless Internet access (WiFi) and cloud computing. Such technologies highlight the notion of what content students have access to and how content is shared among teachers and students. Traditionally, teaching have been organised with textbooks while with 1:1 computing students got access to a great number of new resources that possibly challenges the thinking of what represents content. However, it is not the content per se that create students learning experience, it is how the teacher design students’ learning expedition (Jahnke, Norqvist and Olsson, 2014) with the curriculum and the content.

Aim and research questions

The aim of this paper is to contribute to knowledge about teachers’ didactical design in schools with one-to-one tablet programs.

- What characterises the students’ interaction with the content in one-to-one tablet contexts?

- How can we understand the teachers’ didactical design based on the relationship between the privileging features of the one-to-one tablet context in relation to the teaching practice?

Theoretical framework

The theoretical framework attempts to draw upon both didactics and sociology. Didactics is a complex field with great diversity and nuances, mainly because of diversity in school systems (Meyer, 2012). One common core among didacticians is Bildung (Hopmann, 2007). Further, Hopmann positions Bildung within the concepts of “matter and meaning” (Hopmann, 2007 p.116). In classroom practice, the subject matters are guided by the curriculum while the meaning is the result of teachers’ didactical design that creates the unique experience between the student and the content. Further, the concepts “matter and meaning” highlight the relationship between the curriculum and the teachers’ freedom. Teachers’ freedom highlight teachers’ didactical design (Hudson, 2011;Jahnke, Norqvist and Olsson, 2014) thinking when organising the best possible conditions for students acquisition of knowledge. This experience illuminates the concept of Bildung that goes beyond merely content oriented learning. The teachers’ enacted didactical design in practice is analysed through Bernstein’s (Bernstein, 1990; Bernstein, 2000) framework for understanding the relationship between the classroom space and the teaching practice. The relationship between objects in the classroom, its unique privileging features, is analysed through Bernstein’s relative concept of classification. In short, strong classification keeps things apart that indicate strong symbolic power relationship. The opposite is true for weak classification. This analysis contributes to our understanding of how different objects in the classroom are privileging different practices. Further, for analysing teachers’ practice the concept of framing was applied to the analysis. Framing is a relative concept on a scale from strong to weak. Stronger framing indicates that the teacher has more control over the teaching, while weaker framing indicates increased student control. Framing is operationalized in the concept of selection, sequence, pacing, evaluation and sharing. The classification and framing analysis contribute to understanding the preconditions for how meaning is created in the Finnish one-to-one tablet classrooms in relation to the curriculum. 

Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources UsedThe methodology in this research project has been pre-tested in a Swedish study in 2014 to 2015. It was designed to explore the teachers’ didactical designs in Finnish classrooms in secondary school. Applying purposeful sampling (Patton, 1990), schools were selected where teachers and pupils have been using media tablets longer than six months, preferably within an existing one-to-one computing program in which the pupils can also use the iPads at home. We focused on innovative teachers and early adopters (Rogers, 2003). In total we have conducted 15 classroom observations in two schools in one Finnish municipality. These observations were performed during two week-long visits, one in spring and one in the fall of 2015. Data collection The classroom observations were conducted by 2-3 observers supported by one interpreter. Three types of data were collected during the observations. First, the teachers’ communication in the classroom was audio recorded. After each school visit, the audio files were sent to a chartered translator who first transcribed the files into Finnish text and then translated the text into Swedish. Second, the observers made field notes of what was going on in the classroom with support of a local translator. Third, photos and short video was also part of the documentation. The field notes and photos were elaborated, as soon as possible after the observation, into thick descriptions (Kullberg, 2004). Each lesson lasted about 45 minutes, with some exceptions. The subjects ranged from Native Language, Math, Science, English, Counselling and Home economics. The class sizes ranged from 6 to 25 students in each lesson. The observations were followed up with teacher interviews which were semi-structured by an interview guide divided into four themes: (1) background (age, gender, years as teacher, teaching subjects; first “thought” when implementing iPads); (2) the teachers teaching; (3) Learning (4) Assessment. The interviews were conducted by at least two researchers; audio-recorded and transcribed. Each interview lasted for about 60 minutes.Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or FindingsFindings from innovative tablet classrooms illustrate how the teachers’ arrangements of the classroom space create different privileging teaching practices. The privileging practices are illustrated through teachers’ interaction in situations with students. Such practices indicate how teachers’ design in practice is constrained by the precondition of the classroom space. Further, teachers’ didactical designs include the frequent use of cloud computing services (e.g. Google Drive) for sharing material with the students, and for students’ sharing material with the teacher. A complex image emerges from the students’ meeting with the content, both textbook-based or from diverse resources on the Internet. This highlights who has the right to select content and in which sequence content shall be processed. The students created different products such as movies in geography and mindmaps in religion and Keynote presentations about the learning process in Home economics. An important issue concerns the sociological notion of sharing resources and how it affects pacing. We assume that the analysed categories of selection, sequence, pacing, evaluation and sharing mirrors teachers’ didactical design of students meaning making. ReferencesBernstein, Basil. (1990). Class, Codes and Control: The Structuring of Pedagogic Discourse (Vol. 4). London and New York: Routledge.Bernstein, Basil. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique (Revised Edition ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.European Schoolnet. (2013). One laptop per child in Europe: how near are we?. Briefing papers. (2) Retrieved from Hopmann, Stefan. (2007). Restrain Teaching: the common core of Didaktik. European Educational Research Journal, 6(2), 109-124. doi: 10.2304/eerj.2007.6.2.109Hudson, Brian. (2011). Didactical Design for Technology Enhanced Learning. In B. Hudson & M. Meyer (Eds.), Beyond Fragmentation: Didactics, Learning and Teaching in Europe (pp. 223-238). Opladen and Farmington Hills: Verlag Barbara Budrich.Håkansson Lindqvist, Marcia. J.P. (2015). Gaining and Sustaining TEL in a 1:1 Laptop Initiative: Possibilities and Challenges for Teachers and Students. Computers in the Schools, 32(1), 35-65. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2015.1004274Jahnke, Isa, Norqvist, Lars, & Olsson, Andreas. (2014, September 16-19, 2014 ). Digital Didactical Designs of Learning Expeditions. Paper presented at the 9th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning EC-TEL 2014, Graz, Austria.Kullberg, Birgitta. (2004). Etnography in the classroom [In Swedish: Etnografi i klassrummet] (2 ed.). Lund: Studentlitteratur.Meyer, Meinert. A. (2012). Keyword: Didactics in Europe. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 15, 449-482. doi: 10.1007/s11618-012-0322-8Patton, M.Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (3 ed.). London: Sage.Rogers, Everett M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5 ed.). New York: Free Press.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
didactical design, content, meaning, one-to-one
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127111OAI: diva2:1046018
The European Conference on Educational Research
Available from: 2016-11-11 Created: 2016-10-31 Last updated: 2016-11-18

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