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2.5 Digital Practices in Education: Key Issues

2.5 TeachersIntroducing new practices into educational settings, whatever the phase, raises a range of complex issues. Whether such practices involve resources, materials, approaches to teaching and learning or curriculum content, the extensive literature on educational change repeatedly reminds us that change is not a simple process (Fullan, 2001; Hargreaves, 2005). Digital literacies, and the wider social practices in which they are embedded, add to this complexity and often seem to disturb the ‘fragile ecology of the classroom’ (Merchant, 2009). This can be accounted for in a number of ways, and is influenced by a number of issues:

  • Digital practices emerge alongside significant changes in social life. These include reconsiderations of the relationship between learners and teachers, as well as an acknowledgement of the limitations of classroom space, and new ideas about how knowledge is generated and distributed (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011). These themes are addressed in 2.5.1 Learners and Teachers
  • Digital practices, particularly those that take place in online spaces, foreground issues of identity and self-presentation. As a result, children and young people need to learn how to manage their digital identities in order to develop safe, ethical and advantageous practices (Greenhow & Robelia, 2010). These themes are addressed in 2.5.2 Identities
  • Digital competence is not evenly distributed. Often, following Prensky (2001), children and young people are positioned as a homogeneous group of ‘digital natives’ who know more and better than adults but we now know that differences in confidence, competence and use are patterned in more complex ways. The naivety of the ‘digital natives’ debate has been clearly exposed elsewhere (see Bennett & Maton, 2011). These themes are addressed in 2.5.3 Digital Natives

Fullan, M. (2001). The New Meaning of Educational Change. New York, Teachers College Press.

Hargreaves, A. (2005) ‘Pushing the boundaries of educational change.’ In A. Hargreaves (ed) Extending Educational Change: International Handbook of Educational Change. New York: Springer (pp.1-15)

Merchant, G. (2009) ‘Literacy in virtual worlds.Journal of Research in Reading 32 (1): 38-56

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