Entagled Devices

On the 21st of February, our colleague Antti Paakkari gave the defence for his doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki! The title for his thesis is ”Entangled Devices. An ethnographic study of students, mobile phones and capitalism”.  You find the abstract below and you can access the digital version here. The ethnographic data Antti based his thesis on is from the Textmöten research project .

Not for the first time I was amazed by the opportunities for multiple research foci that this set of data offers. The fieldwork included quite technical solutions and was time consuming, but the data it generated made it worth all the effort. As the opponent, associate professor Minna Ruckenstein (University of Helsinki), pointed out, the data offers a unique insight into students mobile phone use. I was eagerly awaiting critical questions in regard to the methodology as I am mentally preparing for the day I will give my defence. The opponent was however mainly impressed by the work we had done and suggested that we publish more methodological papers. Antti himself did however point out, that in the future, he would prefer to engage the students even further in the research design.

Matilda

Doctoral student, Textmöten

Abstract

This ethnographic research looks at the ways in which mobile phones are present in the school life of upper-secondary school students. The research analyses the affects phones have on the spatiality and power relation of school. The research has been undertaken as part of Textmöten research project and draws from ethnographic data produced in two Finnish upper-secondary schools during 2015-2016. The research consists of three peer-reviewed articles and a 94-page summary. The three articles of the dissertation examine the connections of school and mobile phones from different perspectives. The first article analyses the historically ambivalent relationship between school and technology, including the fact that technology in school seldom works in anticipated ways. The difference between many earlier technologies and mobile phones is that this time students are the ones bringing them to school. The second article analyses how phones are present during lessons, how different apps are used and what phones mean to young people. The conclusion is that phones have become a familiar presence during lessons in the research schools. Both the amounts of phone use and the ways the phones are used vary among the students but phones were used significantly throughout the research. In interviews, students emphasized the importance of the phones. They signified independence, adulthood and a space of one’s own. On the other hand, students mentioned the occasionally laborious nature of phones which had to do with a constant stream of messages and notifications. The third article focuses on one particular lesson in order to examine the multi-faceted character of phones and the connections they enable. Phones foster new agencies and bring opportunities for re-evaluating school spaces and power relations. However, at the same time they offer commercial actors a way into the classroom and give them a foothold in school. The research engages Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of assemblage to analyse the social and political connections of technology. Mobile phones are approached as part of a wider context. The research takes advantage of the concepts of platform capitalism and digital labour. Contemporary mobile devices are used mainly through platforms owned by global corporations such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Apple. Platforms connect individual user activity onto a database controlled by the platform owner. As data is today a pivotal economic factor, enterprises seek to collect as much data as possible. Schools are some of the most interesting sites for data extraction for technology companies. This is why we are seeing so many actively seeking to enter school spaces in which the presence of commercial actors has so far been tightly controlled. The research asks: are large technology companies quietly gaining a foothold in school spaces through mobile phones without a political debate on the issue

 

Keywords: school, technology, phones, mobile devices, capitalism, as- semblage, platform capitalism, digitalisation

Exploring visual communication and competencies through interaction with images in social media

The authors of the paper Exploring visual communication and competencies through interaction with images in social media are Matilda Ståhl (Åbo Akademi University) and Hannah Kaihovirta (University of Helsinki)The paper is part of our Special Issue on Smartphones in classrooms and you will find more information about the paper here.

Abstract

The students of today are surrounded by visual information, online as well as offline. This study examines visual communication and active competencies when interacting with longer-lasting images in social media. Focusing on one focus student in upper secondary school in Finland, the ethnographic data consist of 41 images that the focus student interacted with, by liking or sharing, on Tumblr and Instagramduring school time. The data are collected during 3–5 consecutive days once a year during the focus students three years in upper secondary school. Three interviews function as secondary data.

Drawing on visual ethnography and different levels of messages in visual material, the analysis shows that the focus student interacts with images in a way that communicates the kind of persona the focus student wishes to convey in social media. Thus, the findings indicate that four competencies are active while interacting with images in social media: visual competency; technical competency; knowledge of social norms; and knowledge of self. Therefore, we claim that there are active competencies when interacting with images on social media and that this should be considered in the educational discourse on youth as media users.

 

Ståhl (2018) Figure 1.jpgFigure 1. Image liked on Instagram, 2015

‘Being stuck’. Analyzing text-planning activities in digitally rich upper secondary school classrooms

The authors of the paper ‘Being stuck’. Analyzing text-planning activities in digitally rich upper secondary school classrooms are Riitta Juvonen (University of Helsinki), Marie Tanner (Karlstad University), Christina Olin-Scheller (Karlstad University), Liisa Tainio (University of Helsinki) and Anna Slotte (University of Helsinki). The paper is part of our Special Issue on Smartphones in classrooms and you will find more information about the paper here.

Abstract

The aim of this article is to develop an understanding of how students use different interactional resources to manage problems that arise in their text-planning processes in digitally rich environments in Finnish and Swedish upper secondary schools. We explore both individual and collective teacher-initiated writing tasks in different subjects and during moments when text-planning seems to ‘get stuck’. Theoretically, we draw on a socio-cultural understanding of the text-planning process, and use multimodal conversation analysis to examine how students display ‘being stuck’ during their text-planning through their embodied and verbal performances, what role smartphones and laptops play in their process of becoming ‘stuck’ and ‘unstuck’, and how different interactional resources are coordinated during the students’ text-planning processes. The data consist of video-recorded face-to-face interaction, students’ activities on computers and/or with a pen and paper as well as simultaneous recordings of the focus students’ smartphone screens. The results demonstrate that students often resort to smartphones as resources to display, negotiate and transform problems in their text-planning process. Our results challenge common claims within the contemporary debate both in relation to digital devices as the solution to pedagogical challenges and in relation to the debate on smartphones as devices that disrupt work.

Betydelsen av mobilanvändning under gymnasierasterna

I min magisteravhandling ”Mobiltelefonens roll i social interaktion : Gymnasisters skärmvisningar under skoldagens raster” studerade jag hur mobilanvändningen har en betydelse för vad som händer i gymnasieskolan, utanför lektionstid.

I avhandlingen gjorde jag samtalsanalyser på sekvenser ur Textmötens material där en fokuselev visade den egna mobilskärmen för andra under rasterna, sk. skärmvisningar. Avhandlingens främsta bidrag är iakttagelsen att mobilens specifika egenskaper har en betydelse för vad som händer i interaktionen när skärmen visas. Betydelsen är inte enimage001bart inneboende i objektet – den är knuten till samtalets sekventiella organisationer, sociala överenskommelser och de val som deltagare gör i interaktion.

Genom skärmvisningarna delade fokuseleverna med sig av innehåll, bidrog till interaktionen och skapade nya aktiviteter. En skärmvisning fungerade inkluderande när den bidrog till att fler i elevgruppen fick tillgång till ett visst skärminnehåll. Skärmvisningen fungerade också exkluderande då den enbart visades för en person i gruppen. Skärm-visningarna gjordes över lag i relation till omgivande tal eller andra verbala resurser, som t.ex. skratt, varigenom deltagarna visade eller reagerade på skärmens relevanta meningsbärande element. Således står också vad som sägs i samband med en skärmvisning i relation till skärmens innehåll.

I analysen identifierades därtill tre centrala faktorer som var av betydelse för vad som hände i interaktionen: skärmens litenhet, ägarskap och användarhistorik. Dessa bidrog till att mobiltelefonens ägare kunde kontrollera skärminnehållets distribution, och tycktes bidra till att ägaren antogs ha mer kunskap än andra i gruppen om ett visat skärminnehåll.

Resultaten är av relevans för all slags verksamhet som vill inkludera digitala skärmar i sociala aktiviteter. Hurdana aktiviteter och tal vill man att ska uppstå kring en skärm? Vilka konsekvenser har valet av skärmars storlek för den sociala dynamiken? Vilken skillnad har det för deltagares roller i samtal om de använder egna skärmar, eller en gemensam skärm?

Elin Johansson

Magisterstuderande i pedagogik
Helsingfors universitet

NERA 2017

Several of the researchers connected to Textmöten research project attended the nordic educational conference NERA in Copenhagen, Denmark. As part of the conference we arranged a symposia with two sessions called “Smartphones and laptops in classrooms: reading, writing and talking in rapidly changing educational spaces”. We invited several researchers to present their perspective on the use of mobile phones in the classroom.

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The first presentation was Antti Paakkari, doctoral student in the Textmöten research project. His presentation, “Tracing movements in the enhanced classroom space. Students’ smartphone use during lessons”, raise an interesting perspective on the relationship between online and offline spaces.

Fritjof Salhström and Verneri Valasmo from the Textmöten research project gave a presentation together with Marie Tanner from the Uppkopplade klassrum research project at Karlstad university. Their presentation focused on “Some interactional consequences of smartphone use during plenary teaching”.

I was the one giving the third presentation with the title “Exploring competencies through interaction with images in social media”, based on visual material from the Textmöten data.


Oystein Gilje, associate professor at the University of Oslo, was giving the fourth presentation and thereby providing the discussion with a Norwegian perspective. The title of his presentation was “Smartphones and laptops as boundary objects in lower secondary classrooms”.

The fifth presenter was Fredrik Rusk, associate professor at Nord University, and the topic of his presentation was “Mobile phones as a resource for co-constructing multilingual identities in monolingually oriented classrooms”. He is planning to write an article based on the Textmöten data on this topic due to his earlier collaboration with the researchers from both research projects.

The final presentation was another joined presentation between the Textmöten research project and the Uppkopplade klassrum research project. This time it was Anna Slotte together with Christina Olin-Scheller and Marie Tanner with the topic “A paperless class- room? Changing literacy practices due to the digitization of Swedish and Finnish up- per secondary schools”.

The discussion during the symposia was fruitful and we can now better position our research in a nordic educational context. Thank you NERA and Aalborg University Copenhagen for having us and arranging a great conference. We wish to thank all our presenters for contributing to a rewarding symposia and we look forward to future forms of collaboration!

Matilda
Doctoral student in the Textmöten research project

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Tre försök till gruppbild!

Vi avrundade våra fina dagar i Karlstad med att ta en gruppbild. I vanlig ordning är det någon som blundar eller någon, exempelvis den undertecknade fotografen, som saknas. Därför bjuder vi nu på tre försök till gruppbild!

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Karlstad, tack för oss!

Matilda
Doktorand inom Textmöten

Uppkopplad uppväxt

Textmöten-gänget befinner sig som bäst i Karlstad på symposium: Uppkopplad uppväxt. Barns och ungas interaktion med digitala medier i förskola och skola. Det är Christina Olin-Scheller och Marie Tanner från Uppkopplade klassrum, Textmötens systerprojekt i Sverige, som håller i trådarna. I dagarna två har inbjudna forskare diskuterat hur barn och unga interagerar med digitala verktyg i skolvardagen.

Det digitala verktyg som ligger i fokus är mobiltelefonen och presentationerna har berört en rad olika perspektiv. Diskussionen har tangerat allt från literacy, bilder och skrivande till mobiltelefonens roll i klassrummet och inverkan på klassrumsinteraktionen. Näst på agendan är den publikation den här sammankomsten förhoppningvis kommer att resultera i! Mer information på den punkten då fler frågetecken rätats ut.

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Det har varit väldigt roligt att besöka Karlstad och få föra dialog med strålande utsikt över Vänern… Stort tack för två dagar med givande diskussioner som fört forskningen vidare!

Matilda
Doktorand inom projektet Textmöten