D. De Conti

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (BRAZIL)
This paper is a result of an ongoing doctoral research project regarding the role that digital technologies play in classroom interactions in Brazilian public education. Its focus is on the different kinds of use of digital devices that subjects involved in education promote and how they reflect, unsettle and re-signify the power relations that permeate classroom interactions. During 2014, teaching experiences in ten schools representing the diverse environment of Public Education in the City of Campinas, Sao Paulo, were subjected to ethnographic observation and their teachers were extensively interviewed regarding their experience with digital technologies in the classroom. As a result, some prominent roles played in the determination of digital technology usage in the classroom could be identified: teachers, students, institution, space and software all act sometimes convergently, others divergently, in establishing the way these devices are used in education, turning the use of technology itself into a field of negotiation of identities and roles of the aforementioned subjects in the classroom. In a nutshell, we found that the institution, comprised of the ministries, secretaries and local delegacies dedicated to education, acts in determining and funding technology acquisitions, as well as in preparing both general directives and specific laws regulating its use, and, through these actions, they privilege uses where digital technologies remediate practices traditionally incorporated to formal education, such as proposing the use of tablets to read PDF files or of Smart Boards as a substitute for blackboards, for example. The teachers, in turn, discipline more directly the way that digital technology is used in the classroom, designing activities for the students. Even though they privilege institutionalized practices as well, being technology users themselves, they also propose Ad Hoc uses of digital technology, unforeseen by the institution, like repurposing Facebook as a tool for asynchronous subject discussions with students (a practice that leads us to investigate the impact of the educational use of software designed for other purposes). Being tasked with preserving the institutional system, but, at the same time, with maintaining a relationship with students, the teacher may circumvent higher directives through that kind of repurposing. Finally, the students, who do use digital technologies as proposed by their teachers, also use portable devices like smartphones and tablets differently than expected, frequently in a clandestine way, by doing an internet search for a subject related to the classroom discussion unprompted by the teacher or by using the same devices to uncomfortably type a written assignment, avoiding the use of the schools desktops, for instance. These practices present several possibilities for research. Our own analysis, concerned with the discourses and power struggles that imbue the collected data, leads us to interpret it as a manifestation of a conflict surrounding the roles that teachers and students play in the classroom currently. The fluidity of digital technology, which has continuously proved to be a challenge to the rigid workings of the traditional educational institution, means that each subject brings different uses to the classroom, making its usage a particularly undecided field that enables these deeper conflicts to surface.