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Maintaining teaching: exploring te(a)ch-abilities with actor-network theory
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5079-3067
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Att ta hand om undervisning : en aktörnätverksstudie av digital teknik i pandemins skolvardag (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The thesis investigates everyday teaching with digital technology during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic was one of the world’s largest disruptions to everyday education with both health and education at stake. With the pandemic control measures affecting upper secondary education in Sweden, gathering in the classroom cannot be taken for granted and digital technologies accelerated and intensified everyday practices. The aim is to explore the relation of teaching and digital technology. How can we understand the ways in which digital technology and teaching become jointly experimented with to cope with pandemic uncertainty?

With an Actor-Network theory (ANT) approach, the thesis puts emphasis on how everyday teaching holds together at the pandemic intersection of routine and breakdown. The everyday teaching practices during the pandemic is an empirical focal point for inquiry into how they become enacted and, secondly, what the implications are for knowledge production when examining this novel educational practice with ANT’s relational materialism. To answer these questions, ethnographic methods are used with an upper secondary school in Sweden from May 2020 to June 2021. The fieldwork consists of empirical engagements in school visits, interviews, and online observations. In line with recent ANT scholarship, the methodological approach is articulated as a care-ful methodology. It implies tracing vulnerable and stable relations that enact sociomaterial practice and acknowledging cuts and becoming.

The results show how a manifold of more-than-digital practices enact everyday teaching. The included studies in the thesis examine attendability and mundane rituals, lesson enactments of scheduling practices, and digital platforms that co-produce specific practices while obscuring others. Teaching in the pandemic challenges taken-for-granted notions of a rapid transition to distance and online teaching. By surfacing neglected aspects of everyday teaching with digital technology the thesis discusses how ‘digitalisation of teaching’ erases the local work of everyday teaching as an equipped practice. In conclusion, the proposal is made that maintaining teaching takes into account the materiality, abilities, care, and vulnerabilities that enact everyday teaching.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2024. , p. 107
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 135
Keywords [en]
teaching, Covid-19, digital technology, ethnography, digital platforms, upper secondary education, attendance, maintenance, actor-network theory, care, science and technology studies
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-224628ISBN: 978-91-8070-415-1 (electronic)ISBN: 978-91-8070-414-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-224628DiVA, id: diva2:1859365
Public defence
2024-06-14, Stora Jadwiga, Gävle, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-05-24 Created: 2024-05-21 Last updated: 2024-05-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Sociomaterial explorations of attendance practices in ‘schooling without schools’
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sociomaterial explorations of attendance practices in ‘schooling without schools’
2022 (English)In: Learning, Media & Technology, ISSN 1743-9884, E-ISSN 1743-9892, Vol. 47, no 4, p. 512-523Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Mass school closures and restricted mobility during the Covid-19 pandemic have intensified matters of technology, teaching, and participation in schools. In response to this situation, this paper examines how attendance practices work during school closure and screen-saturated pandemic isolation at a Swedish upper secondary school. The aim is to empirically and theoretically explore school closure attendance by focusing on the sets of strategies and enactments that make school ‘attendable’ when being ‘in the right place at the right time’ becomes ambiguous. A relational materialist methodology is deployed with online interviews with six teachers during the first pandemic wave in 2020. The analysis traces empirical events that enact different school closure attendance devices: the video roll call, attendance performance, and ‘click like’ in the Microsoft Team-feed. The article highlights how attendance monitoring shifts and how attendance acts upon teaching, and vice versa.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2022
Keywords
educational platforms, pandemic pedagogies, School attendance, secondary education, socio-material approach
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-192889 (URN)10.1080/17439884.2022.2039939 (DOI)000753803100001 ()2-s2.0-85125152426 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-03-08 Created: 2022-03-08 Last updated: 2024-05-21Bibliographically approved
2. Lesson enactments: maintenance in everyday educational practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lesson enactments: maintenance in everyday educational practice
2024 (English)In: Postdigital Science and Education, ISSN 2524-485X, Vol. 6, p. 595-609Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores lesson enactments as co-constitutive of human-technology relationality in everyday schooling, rather than neutral backdrops for educational activities. In doing so, the article introduces maintenance as its key concept, drawing on insights from maintenance studies and actor-network theory (ANT). Being both theoretically and empirically informed, maintenance means reconsidering lessons, and digital technologies, as part of lively and vulnerable objects achieved in sociomaterial practices and not merely stable in function and use. The empirical case of lesson enactments comes from fieldwork with an upper secondary school in Sweden during Covid-19. The article analyses situations of maintenance with online class calls and scheduling meetings. Herein, lessons turn into a topic of concern and mechanisms of maintenance enact educational order and prevent disorder. The article demonstrates how putting maintenance to work articulates and identifies so far neglected and mundane practices with digital technology in education. In light of this, the article argues for recognising maintenance in educational practice as too long overshadowed by use, reinforced by a persistent user-technology dichotomy. Finally, the article discusses how maintenance invites reconsiderations of the dominant before-after debate that the Covid-19 pandemic attracts and calls attention to the mundane maintenance of lessons regardless of breakdowns.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2024
Keywords
Actor-network theory, Covid-19, Digital technology, Lessons, Maintenance, Teaching
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207704 (URN)10.1007/s42438-023-00401-z (DOI)2-s2.0-85152776014 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-04-28 Created: 2023-04-28 Last updated: 2024-05-21Bibliographically approved
3. Caring cuts: unfolding methodological sensibilities in researching postdigital worlds
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Caring cuts: unfolding methodological sensibilities in researching postdigital worlds
2023 (English)In: Postdigital research: genealogies, challenges, and future perspectives / [ed] Petera Jandrić; Alison MacKenzie; Jeremy Knox, Cham: Springer Nature, 2023, p. 173-190Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this chapter, we introduce the configuration of caring cuts. Composed of care and cuts, two key notions in feminist posthumanism and Actor-Network Theory (ANT), caring cuts addresses the entanglement of epistemology and ontology. By putting to work an ontology of relational materialisms, the chapter explores how to respond to the mess, emergence, and elusive objects that become centred by our concern and ways of producing knowledge with and on postdigital worlds. It means that vital methodological questions are raised for postdigital relationalities in education and elsewhere. Instead of seeking to untangle the postdigital, caring cuts is put to work to examine mundane research events with sensibilities of the world-making practices of research. We argue that caring cuts affords acknowledgements of the collective responsibilities that research practices involve and bring attention to the inevitably untidy and non-innocent character of knowledge production and making worlds researchable. With caring cuts, modest interruptions and uneventful events suggest a methodological sensibility of not too hastily putting things ‘right’ but acknowledging that other worlds are possible. This means that caring cuts invites thinking and researching more-than-digital relations anew.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Springer Nature, 2023
Series
Postdigital science and education
Keywords
Relational materialism, Actor-network theory, Educational posthumanism, Postqualitative inquiry, Ontology, Matters of care, Agential cuts, More-than-digital, Care-ful research
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-223669 (URN)10.1007/978-3-031-31299-1_10 (DOI)978-3-031-31298-4 (ISBN)978-3-031-31301-1 (ISBN)978-3-031-31299-1 (ISBN)
Available from: 2024-04-22 Created: 2024-04-22 Last updated: 2024-05-21Bibliographically approved
4. Mutual capabilities: digital platforms in unpredictable pedagogical encounters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mutual capabilities: digital platforms in unpredictable pedagogical encounters
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper takes on the rise and implications of platforms as a repertoire for knowing, doing, and relating the intensities of pandemic restrictions on teaching and schoolwork. Building on critical work on platformisation in education, the paper investigates what work platforms do and how in the unpredictable everyday of pedagogical encounters. To do so, the paper explores a methodological potential with platforms’ capabilities to pull some things together while supressing others. Drawing on ethnographic interviews with teachers and students in upper secondary education in Sweden in 2021, everyday platform practices are analysed such as dealing with assignments, requests to ‘connect online’, strategies with web cameras, and coping with repetitive notifications. Working with actor-network theory and sensibilities towards tensions of discomforts, resistance, trust and intimacy, the paper unfolds acknowledgements of digital platforms as relationally enacted and more complex objects than shaping pedagogical encounters from the outside or prior to their practices. Instead, capabilities emerge as mutually rendered. The analysis shows that platforming well-bounded domains for clearer and more flexible teaching and schoolwork incoherently make educational practices less so. At the same time, the platform becomes weak and unreasonable. Incoherence and unpredictability stress critical openings to surprise and curiosity of pedagogical encounters.

Keywords
digital platforms, actor-network theory, upper secondary education, Covid-19, material semiotics
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-224627 (URN)
Available from: 2024-05-21 Created: 2024-05-21 Last updated: 2024-05-21

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Mörtsell, Sara

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