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Beinga Teacher intheDigitalW orld:
a digitalethnographyofReligiousEducation
teachers’engagement inonlinesocialspaces
James...
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James Robson - Being a Teacher in the Digital World: a digital ethnography of Religious Education teachers' engagement in online social spaces

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Poster presented at the Department of Education, Oxford University in 2013.

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James Robson - Being a Teacher in the Digital World: a digital ethnography of Religious Education teachers' engagement in online social spaces

  1. 1. Beinga Teacher intheDigitalW orld: a digitalethnographyofReligiousEducation teachers’engagement inonlinesocialspaces JamesRobson Asdigitalmediaincreasinglypervadeoursocialinteractionsandthewaysinwhichweengage withwidercommunitiesandunderstandtheworldaroundus,teachers’useofdigitaltoolsto engagewithonlinecommunitiesandnetworksoftheirpeershassimilarlyincreased. Thisstudyconsequentlyseekstoinvestigatethemeanings,relatedto theirprofessionallives,thatteachersderivefrom theirengagementin profession-relatedonlinesocialspaces. ConceptualLens: P rofessional Ident it y Identityasdiscursive,locatedinpublicrealmsofdiscourse, interaction,andothersemioticsystemsofmeaning-making andasactively,ongoingly,anddynamicallyconstructedand performed. Identityisseenasinscribedindominantdiscourses,tiedto socialorinstitutionalpractices,suchthatseloodtakeson aasubjected,structuredqualityandperpetuatesexistingpower relationsinsociety(BenwellandStokoe,2010:83;Foucault,1975). 1.Identityisunderstoodaslinkingbothonlineandofflinecontexts,withonlineidentityalwaysbeinginarelationshipwith offlinecontexts(MillerandSlater,2000;RybasandGajjala,2007). 2.Identitycanbeperformedonline(Butler,1990;Planchenault,2010;Shih-Wei,2010)whichcanencouragegreaterself- reectionandaprojectionofhowpeoplewanttobeviewedbyothers. 3.Identitycanbeconstructedonlineaspeopleinternalizeinformationandadoptorresistidentitypositionswithinonlinedis- course(BenwellandStokoe,2006). 4.Identityisrootedinatensionbetweenagencyandstructure:powerstructureslinkedtoonlinecontextsandspacescanin- uencedominantdiscoursesandthewaysinwhichidentityisperformedandconstructed(Wiel,2000;Benwelland Stockoe,2006). ResearchQuestion •HowareREteachers’professionalidentitiesperformedthroughtheirengagementinonlinesocial spaces? •HowareREteachersprofessionalidentitiesconstructedthroughtheirengagementinonlinesocial spaces? •HowistheengagementofREteachersinonlinesocialspacesinuencedbypowerstructuresandthe agendasofrelatedinstitutions,organizations,stakeholdersandinterestgroups? DigitalEthnography Offline interviews Online observations Onlinenarrative basedinterviews RE Subject Specific Forum Online observations Offline interviews Onlinenarrative basedinterviews RE Facebook Group Offline interviews Online observations Onlinenarrative basedinterviews RE Facebook Page Analysis cyclicalongoinganalysisthroughout eldwork,buildingonemergent themes Conflict eCoPmodeldoesn’ttakeintoaccount themanyformsofintra-muralandextra- muralconictthattookplacewithinthe onlinesocialspaceswhichappearedto: strengthenasharedsenseofidentityinthe faceofacommonenemy;assertdominant subjectdiscoursesthroughtherejectionof outgroupminorities;aidnegotiationand meaningmakinginrelationtosubject ownership,subjectidentityandsubject purpose CommunityofPractice Formanyusers,onlinesocialspacesaffordedthem theopportunitytonetworkandshareresourceswith theirsubjectcolleaguesatanationallevel,deepening theirsubjectandpracticalknowledgeandnegotiating sharedunderstandingsofREasasubjectandwhatis meanstobeanREteacher. isoenaffordedusersthespacetoperformidenti- tiesrootedinexpertiseandleadershipandfornewer teacherstolearnskillsfromtheirpeers Political Alltheonlinesocialspacesactedascampaigncommunities.Rootedin discoursesrelatedtoREbeing‘atwar’and‘underaack’fromgovern- mentalpolicyreforms,manyuserssawthespacesasplacestoexpress andperformpoliticalidentities,takingownershipofthesubjectatana- tionallevel.However,othersdescribedwaysinwhichthedominant onlinediscourses,rootedinangerandawar-basedrhetoric,politicized themasprofessionals,changingthewaytheysawtheirsubject,their workingenvironmentsandthemselves,whileinductingthemintoan activecampaigningcommunitythatexpandedbeyondonlinecommu- nitiesintoofflinespaces. DominantOnline Discourses Anumberofdiscoursesdominatedthespaces,allowing userstoperformidentitieswithinthem.However,thedis- coursesalsohadaconstructivepowerwithuserstaking identitypositionswithinthemorinoppositiontothem. esediscourseswereinpartshapedbytheagendasofthe hostingorganisations,inpartshapedbycommunitydia- logueandnegotiations,reproducedbyusers,andenforced throughintra-muralconict. IdealIdentity IdealIdentity Commodified Self eagendasofhostingorganisationsoenpropagated suchastrongsetofdiscoursesandprojectedsuchapow- erfulidealidentitythattheidentitiesperformedandcon- structedbyusersweresometimesbestconceptualisedas commodiedselves,withusersperformingandconstruct- ingtheirprofessionalselvesinawaythatwasembedded inproviders’agendas.However,suchperformanceand constructionwasrootedinagencysinceinmostcases, evenatabasiclevel,users’owninterestsandselfunder- standingswerebroadlyinharmonywiththeseagendas Allthespaceswereinsomewayprovided/hostedbyorganisationswhichhada numberofcommercialandpoliticalinterestsinvestedinthespace.Commercialin- terestsoeninvolvedmarketingandthepromotionofbrandaachment,sothat usersfeltpartofacommunitylinkedwiththeorganisation’sbrand. isfrequently ledtotheprojectionofanidealidentitylinkedtotheorganisations’commerical agendas-forexample,ontheforum,a‘good’teacherwasoenpresentedassome- onewhowasparticularlyengagedwiththatonlinecommunity,sharingresources aandpromotingthespaceasanactive,dynamicenvironment.Manyusersaspiredto thisideal,butfeltasenseofguiltorinadequacywhentimepressuresprevented themfromspendingasmuchtimeonlineastheyfeltwasdemandedofthem. Politicalagendasoentooktheformofproviderorganisationspromotingaparticu- larvisionforREinthefutureorpresentinganongoingcritiqueofthecurrentstate ofthestubject. iswaspartofadiscourserootedina‘calltoarms’to ghtforthe futureofREthroughenteringintoacampaigningcommunityandtakingpolitical action(e.g.petitioningMPsetc.). isalsoledtotheprojectionofidealidentities rootedinpoliticsandpoliticalaction.Forexample,ontheFacebookPage,many usersaspiredtoandperpetuatedtheidealidentity,rootedintheorganisation’spo- liticalrhetoric,ofateacheraspoliticallyactive,campaigningforandnegotiatingthe futureofthesubjectatanationallevel. AgendasofProviders/ Owners ofOnlineSocialSpaces

Poster presented at the Department of Education, Oxford University in 2013.

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