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

Digital labour in school: Smartphones and their consequences in classrooms

The authors of the paper Digital labour in school: Smartphones and their consequences in classrooms are Antti Paakkari (University of Helsinki), Pauliina Rautio (University of Oulu) and Verneri Valasmo (Åbo Akademi University).  The paper is part of our Special Issue on Smartphones in classrooms and you will find more information about the paper here.

Abstract 

This paper reflects on the forms of digital labour present in upper secondary school students’ smartphone use during the school day. Digital labour is understood as value-producing online activity, for example the labour of producing content for social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. Through analysis of students’ phone use in classroom we approach aspects of digital labour intertwining with school. In the paper, theoretical perspectives on digital labour are connected with ethnographic data on student phone use. Our findings suggest that digital labour has become a permanent part of school life. Two main consequences are identified. Firstly, for the students the school is no longer a place where work does not take place, as digital labour intertwines with the school day. Secondly, technologies introduce new corporate actors into the classroom space that schools have to negotiate with.

Writing Camp 8-10.8.2017

The Textmöten project group is currently working on a proposal for a special issue together with our colleagues Christina Olin-Scheller and Marie Tanner from Uppkopplade klassrum in Karlstad, and Oystein Gilje and Fredrik Rusk from Norway. The papers for this special issue proposal were presented during NERA in Copenhagen earlier this year and now almost all of us had the opportunity to meet in Björköby, Korsholm, Finland for a writing camp!

During this camp we stayed at Kvarkens värdshus, far away from the civilization but with the beautiful Kvarken World Heritage Site around the corner. For those of us who were the only author present for our paper, this camp made it possible for us to focus on writing our papers with an informed colleague to consult only a few steps away! And those who us who were writing together had the time to discuss and plan their paper in a way that is tricky when you are living in different countries.

Apart from working, we also found the time to eat together, go for walks, freshen up in the sauna and enjoy freshly baked buns! After two intense yet very rewarding days together, all of us left feeling a little tired but with a smile on our face.

Matilda

Doctoral student, Textmöten

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

 

 

Diskussion kring preliminära resultat

Tidigare i veckan besökte Textmöten Topeliusgymnasiet och berättade om våra preliminära resultat för studerande och lärare. Resultaten är i det här skedet preliminära då en del av analyserna är i ett tidigt skede, men vi hoppas kunna visa de tendenser vi så här långt noterat och på bredden av den forskning som görs inom ramen för Textmöten!

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Fotot är taget av Annette Kronholm-Cederberg under vårt besök och hon har även i form av ett blogginlägg reflekterat över hur det är att fungera som fältskola för gästande forskare. Så här inleder hon inlägget:

Människan vill bli sedd. Det är ett allmänmänskligt behov att spegla sig i någon annan, att den andre fångar upp människan och just ser henne. Att som skola bli sedd av ett gäng forskare är ett privilegium. Topeliusgymnasiet fick var med om just det.

Inlägget i sin helhet hittar ni här!

Matilda
Doktorand inom projektet Textmöten