Literacy and learning across physical and digital spaces: a case study in a blended primary classroom

Patricia Andrea Thibaut Paez

PhD, conferred 2015

In light of technological innovations, schools are increasingly adopting digital tools and promoting online spaces for learning. Consequently, the shape of teaching and learning is shifting beyond the physical classroom. Drawing on sociocultural theory, distributed cognition and a networked learning framework, this case study explores how a blended approach shapes teachers’ practices and students’ learning and literacy processes.

The study was situated in a Year Six classroom in an Australian technology-rich independent school. Data was collected during the 2013 school year and included: 1) observations; 2) 125 hours of classroom video-recordings; 3) a collection of digital artefacts designed by the students; 4) interviews with teachers and students; 5) a student survey regarding technology integration in the classroom; 6) entry logs posted by participants on the Edmodo social network site. Multiple approaches to data analysis were used in order to answer the study’s research questions, including: networked learning analysis, thematic analysis, situated discourse analysis, multimodal discourse analysis and a quantitative descriptive analysis.

The findings suggest that blended learning spaces support teachers’ distributed orchestration of classroom activities across tools and resources while also leveraging students’ engagement in reciprocal teaching as well as self-driven and collaborative learning. Digital technologies open space for new ways of communication, interaction and learning in the classroom, yet such affordances are dependent upon teacher’s facilitation and expertise. In addition, an interactive pattern of literacy practices was evident in the classroom, where processes of authorship, readership, production, audience, and consumption were established between students. Finally, alignment between teachers’ beliefs and the perceived value of technology was a key factor for technology integration in the classroom.

Supervisors: Dr Jen Scott Curwood, Dr Lucila De Carvalho and Associate Professor Alyson Simpson