Waiting for the future: digital technologies and school communities

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores how two school communities envision the revolutionary potential of digital technologies in education, and their thinking about the ways in which the policies around ICT in education may impact on their current and future use of digital technologies for learning. Two research questions guided this thesis, firstly, how do the various members of a school community that includes students, parents, teachers, administrators, and leadership, think about and deal with the use of digital technology at school in the context of the Australian Digital Education Revolution Policy? And secondly, what differences and similarities in perception, emphasis and orientation are evident between students, parents, teachers, administrators, and leadership in their views of digital technology use and its possibilities and revolutionary potential? This study was conducted in two schools, in two different states of Australia, drawing on the views and experiences of the different members of each school community. Using a case-study approach and visual methods, members of these schools' communities were asked to draw concept maps of their thinking and imaginings of the use of digital technologies in their school, as well as how they see these technologies being used in the future. The four findings chapters deal with teachers, students, and parents as separate groups, with the fourth findings chapter dealing with ICT Coordinators, Principals, and Department of Education Project Officers together. The findings of this study uncovered and interpreted three organising themes: practical concerns, concepts of education and the purpose of digital technologies, and affective orientations. These findings showed a complex and difficult relationship with digital technologies, with a range of hopes and concerns, as well as sometimes contradictory expectations and tensions being shown. The final chapter of this thesis brings together these organising themes into four underpinning narratives that are inherent in the responses of the various members of these school communities. The first narrative is 'the nature of schoolwork', which deals with the range of expectations and tensions about what now constitutes schoolwork. The next narrative examines the 'computer as artefact', and the ways in which the computer carries different meanings to different people, as well as the social, cultural, political, and economic dynamics involved in the use of computers in schools. Thirdly, the narrative of technological determinism deals with the idea that technology determines history and that it is therefore inevitable. Finally, the last narrative is the 'myth of technological progress' and the idea that technology is 'progress' and therefore a 'good' to be sought and accepted. This study proposes a number of implications, including the need for better consultation with all members of the school community when producing and implementing educational technology policies, as well as attention to the affective responses of school community members regarding technological change in schools.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Melbourne
  • Yates, Lyn, Principal Supervisor, External person
  • Corrin, Linda, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date01 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2018


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