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|Title:||The 21st Century Classroom: Technology as a Transformative Tool in Educational Routines, Rules, and Rituals|
|Keywords:||education;student engagement;digital technologies;social inequality|
|Abstract:||This dissertation discusses a current niche in sociological literature: technology and interaction rituals in elementary schools. In particular, it examines the relationship between classroom interactions and the increasing available new forms of technologies (i.e. iPads, robotics kits, Smart boards) that are finding their way into schools. In doing so, I consider what new interactions and digital tools might mean for student engagement in what has now become known as the “21st century classroom”. Two pivotal sociological theories are utilized in this project: 1) Collins (2004) interaction ritual (IR) theory and 2) Bourdieu’s (1974; 1986) concept of cultural capital. Both are valuable in understanding how the introduction of digital tools in mainstream schools can influence or change interactions between and among students and teachers in classrooms, how they may impact student engagement gaps. Traditionally speaking, schools have long valued and rewarded certain types of interactions—student obedience alongside teacher authority, an orderly and compliant classroom, emphasis on more traditional teaching and so forth. Student engagement was not necessarily a point of interest, as was having a systematic classroom. However, perhaps technology is beginning to change those valuations, and create new types of classroom interactions that are unique to the 21st century—classrooms that have a more student-centered pedagogy, whereby teachers work in tandem with students to engross them in the learning process, and where student engagement is more much valued. If this is true, this may be a sign of some new emerging types of IRs that are beginning to surface in the presence of technology. Collins' (2004) theory of IR focuses on the emotional input and feedback of individuals that transpire in interactions among actors, which in the case of classrooms, consist of teachers and students. The theory holds that interactions produce or deplete “emotional energy” of participants depending on many key factors (physical co-presence, exclusivity of group, mutual focus/mood, bodily synchronization). A successful ritual is one in which participants have a mutual focus on a particular “symbol” or “emblem” unique to that group. Through this research, I propose that technology can serve as that “emblem” to group membership, and as a result, can facilitate new kinds of IR. “Cultural capital”, in comparison, is usually considered to be a collection of symbolic elements such as skills, tastes, clothing, materials, credentials and so on that one acquires by being a member of a particular social class. In education, cultural capital can refer to having valued sets of skills and knowledge that are aligned with school rewards. Traditionally, this usually meant a middle-upper class advantage in schooling, as students of more affluent families were able to learn valued kinds of skill sets to help them achieve better in school. However, with the advent of new technologies, I question whether notions of cultural capital have changed as a result, and whether possessing a digital skillset is in and of itself, a new type of valued capital. Can new technologies produce more equalizing experiences for students of varying SES backgrounds? To explore the possibility of digital tools in classrooms creating new sets of rituals with new kinds of valued cultural capital, this study adopts a qualitative methodology, consisting of elementary classroom observations, interviews, and focus groups with teachers and students in ten school boards across Ontario, Canada. My research discusses three integrated themes. I begin by asking first, how have technologies transformed the ways in which students and teachers interact with, and amongst each other? By providing a new medium for both teacher pedagogy and student learning, this has major implications for classroom engagement. Secondly, I explore the possibility that one unintended consequence of using digital resources (compared to more traditional print media), has been a reduction in home-based inequalities, and a more “even playing field” for students of varying SES. With the ease, accessibility, and affordability of technology today, students in vary capacities are exposed to new valued skillsets. Lastly, I consider how technology can be a type of “leveler” for different kinds of students, which can allow them to participate and facilitate new types of ritual inclusions. I focus both on gendered interactions and exchanges between students with special needs as examples. The exploration of these three themes guides my research on the use of educational technologies across classrooms. These have important implications for sociologists, educational researchers, and policy-makers alike.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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|Rizk_Jessica_J_SEPT2018_DoctorofPhilosophy_Sociology.pdf||2.06 MB||Adobe PDF||View/Open|
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