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WHY USING A DIGITAL LEARNING PLATFORM? – TEACHER AND SCHOOL LEADER CONVERSATIONS ABOUT DIGITAL DEVICES IN TEACHING

M.H. Zimmerman Nilsson

Halmstad University (SWEDEN)
At present, digital technologies are implemented in school and as such, influence teachers´ practices in different ways. Digital resources could involve a reconsideration of the concept of learning in educational contexts, as well as a change in teachers´ roles and practices in the classroom. In an implementation process, different agendas and arguments could be in conflict. This is in great need of further studying, enabling a more complex discussion, giving emphasis to varying arguments concerning digital resources in school. Based on these considerations, this study focuses on a secondary school, where the municipality has decided to implement a software related to a digital learning platform for different teaching subjects. For the specific software, the software company needs to approve teachers´ design before allowing them to accomplish their teaching. In this way, it might be assumed that the software company governs the teachers´ in a way that could have consequences for their possibilities to implement their professional knowledge into their teaching practice. The aim of this paper is to study dialogues between principal and teachers related to the implementation of a digital platform in teaching, and further to discuss in what way this digital platform influences on teachers´ teaching practices. The empirical material consists of group conversations during staff meetings between principal and teachers. The theoretical framework emanates from social constructionist and poststructuralist theory, with discursive psychology and discourse theory as methodological approach. Findings reveal several aspects in the conversations, presented as different interpretative repertoires. From a principal perspective, the repertoire of persuasion is characterized by stressing positive aspects of the learning platform, regardless of subject. The principal is positioning himself as knowledgeable of the digital platform on a general level. From a teacher perspective, two repertoires appear. The repertoire of promoting is characterized by emphasizing the digital platform as user friendly for the students, while the repertoire of resistance implies questioning the adequacy of the platform related to subject matter content and student learning. The former implies that the teachers are positioning themselves as supporters of the digital platform whereas the latter means teachers positioning themselves as disputing the adequacy of the platform related to student needs. Concludingly, according to the repertoire of persuasion and the repertoire of promoting, student learning and student needs related to a specific subject matter content is considered as less important, than implementing the digital platform per se. From an educational perspective, several problematic aspects on teaching quality as well as on teacher agency appear. These aspects, as well as implications for secondary school settings, are finally discussed in addition to digital technologies as an influential tendency.