May I introduce: Seela in the Digiland PART III: Growing up as a digital native: Comfort in diversities

The biggest thought in interviews with Seela – a digital native – was about diversities and how they help us to grow up as open-minded, inclusive persons. At Seela’s age, growing up in a multinational and multi-confessional Province of Vojvodina was my biggest profit. Still, this “multiness” was not enough to understand the value of acceptance. Those who raised me had their values rooted in tradition and patriarchy. Today, Seela’s globally orienting generation can be far beyond with acceptance, tolerance, and solidarity. Is it possible that the digital era has given her generation space to grow as individuals – unchaining them from traditional and analogical living?

How many applications you are using for daily life?

Bank is always the most important thing if you want to know your situation. Then for communicating with people, SnapChat and WhatsApp for family members. If you want to be in a contact with them. Anything that is on a smartphone is modern in my opinion. And then my alarm is there. If I need to remember something or just wake up, it is on my phone. And weather …and camera of course. It is always around. And yes, my blood glucose. I can measure it with my phone. I have type I diabetes. Now I can use my phone, need to get flex [flexible] with it. Everybody is like: “What is that? I want to have it.” It has more options there than at the regular blood glucose measure. Usually you do it with needles yourself. With the phone, you don’t have to do anything. You just wipe it. This is how I can measure my insulin things a little easier. I can see all the graphs when they go down or up. I can see the specific time of a day when it is usually low or high. I can change manually the insulin system in my palm. Because it is individual thing and I can change it by looking at my phone. It gives me the graphs.

 In your phone you are using apps to communicate with your friends. Which apps are you using to communicate? Do you phone more often or write?

 If the person is close to you, you can call or text with WhatsApp or with a similar app, but no one is using those with multiple people. The SnapChat is the most common one then. I personally don’t like the app but because I want to get in contact with people, I must have it. Instagram is an option, but it is more for the people you don’t know at all. Maybe you see someone very cool, a person that you want to know, and you send a private message and say: “Wow, you seem like a very nice person. I would like to know you.” Maybe you see a SnapChat from there and start talking. I’ve heard so many people done it. You can call SC, you can send the message and the picture with it. You can do basically anything. It is funny because it has filters. You can search any filter that you want. It might be a picture of a dog or a dog face or whatever you want. That’s the big part of the app. It is a fun way of contacting people.

What social media are you mostly using to present yourself? To show some stuff or your regular dog walks? You are doing diving and having a mermaid character. What about your fellows, are they supportive? Are you visible with this identity or? How do you call it?

 I think for representing style is Instagram. To present your casual life and what are you just doing is SnapChat, too. There are stories that you film about your life. All your friends and others who follow you there – they will all see it. But you can also send things privately. There are live forms there where you can have a group chat. This is more for the casual things but Instagram you use if you want to show how do you dress and how you want to be seen.

My hobby [mermaid diving, sharing diving videos] is not a usual thing. It is interesting because earlier people sometimes talked to me: “This is really weird, this is childish, this is nah”. Kids can say such things if you are not like everybody else. This was a reaction of some, but my friends have been supportive. It was very cool, and I didn’t really care if people said something bad about me. Then I got to know more people around. They didn’t say those things anymore. And really cool people got the interest about it. Maybe got impressed even. Maybe I sound a bit selfish, but I am more respected now. I am not hiding anything. And I am still nice to everyone and everybody is nice to me. Maybe too much sometimes but I think it is rewarded. There are no age limits or gender limits in my hobby. I went to Belgium to a convention of mermaids. And if you can imagine all those people, no one looks the same as someone else. Here when you look around maybe people are just a people but there everyone are themselves and it is really cool. I think I will do that again.

You became visible in Instagram. I’ve noticed that many people are following your character. Can you tell a bit about being world-widely connected? Was it a relief when you realized there are so many same kinds of people?

I was happy to meet more people around the world, how they like to do the things they do. And because I am the first teacher of this mermaid diving here in this city. Even adults asked me: “Can you teach us also, we want to learn to those things, it seems cool?” It was the best job I have ever done. My Instagram account is called Mermaid Selenia, this is my artist name. This is how I represent myself. Almost everyone who has this hobby, or a job, has the name for the character. You don’t want to mix it with the real world. People might start to call you with your mermaid name added in it. People did it to me. I was like, please don’t do that because this is not everything about me, that I do.

I love my videos because I have a professional underwater photographer doing this with me. It was maybe the best experience of my life so far. I think it was something different for him also because he is doing professional underwater shooting. Next summer I think I’m going to do more of these things again. It is fun to look back in time and see how you have progressed.

When you search for some community online with a need of belonging, for example, to your mermaid community, do you find it?

You can belong to every community existing out there by just commenting their activities or telling your story. And when you start sharing more information, maybe a picture of yourself, it can connect you to people who are not actually socializing so much. And people can see you, but you don’t have to respond. It is sometimes unnecessary to comment something. It can just make someone feel a bad emotion. I used to respond to mean comments before, but I realized maybe this is not the best thing to do. They might think I gain some emotion. When you get used to it you don’t think about it anymore. You just see it as a useless thing. I don’t really read all the comments.

Social media can start the fires and put them down. Does it disturb your generation? Is there any politics or rules you have for online space?

I think if it does influence on some other people I might pop in and comment like “this is not what you have to say here”. It can be insulting. Even sometimes in a real life I have to say to someone “this is not ok to say”. There is not much you can do, you can just be quiet and do nothing, it is easier than to say something hateful. It is not going to make anything any better. It is the same with the comments. If you say something phobic towards someone, I still will say something about it. Too many times I need to say this to other people. Maybe they realized it, maybe not, maybe one day they will get it. If I can affect someone’s opinion positively, I want to try and do.

Now I am curious to ask about – beyond – education. Gaining knowledge digitally and surfing for the information, how much is allowed now for you? Have you ever ended up into somewhere where is the stuff you don’t want to see?

I think it is possible. I haven’t personally ended up there. I’ve heard people getting viruses by going to untrusted websites and seeing nasty pictures if they search health things for example. There is always the risk, at least for the virus. We can choose from any site that is possible for our studies. And there is always more and more. This is why we can get tired really badly. When you have so much to surf, of course, you have more information. We are expected to know more, maybe they expect us to be professionals in the subject, not only trying to get us through the course. It is frustrating sometimes. And we get worst grades than we should. But I think it is nice to have more information. If you are really interested in something you can get things very easily from the internet.

Can you imagine one day without your phone? From awakening through the day?

Wait, I would probably go back in time, to do something that I have never done. I would probably knock my friend’s doors and ask: “Can you come out?” Then I go to the next one, cycling like ten kilometres. Ok, this is probably if I want to be in contact, I will do that. Of course, I must have my blood glucose measure and a clock for the alarm. Or my mom, she can wake me up because I still live with her. I don’t know, I would be pretty confused because my calendar is in my phone. I would have to check everything from the paper. And for the clock, I would always need to go to the kitchen and see what the time is, it is not in my pocket. So, it would change my daily routine pretty much. I only can imagine like ten hours without a phone when I am hiking or diving but not a day without the phone. And basic things like cooking. I usually have all my recipes in my phone. But if I don’t have them, I need to improvise. Also paying bills, couldn’t do that without a phone. Anything would be harder to do. Even that I actually lived an era without a phone. It was fun and nice, having no problems. Phone is somehow connected with it; it also will inform me about the problem.

Biljana Stankovic

May I introduce: Seela in the Digiland PART II: Digital native – behind or beyond the digitalized education?

“To understand their world, we must be willing to immerse ourselves in that world. We must embrace the new digital reality. If we can’t relate, if we don’t get it, we won’t be able to make schools relevant to the current and future needs of the digital generation.”

Ian Jukes (The founder and Executive Director of the InfoSavvy Group, an international educational consulting firm: https://infosavvy21.com/)

When the concept of education is changed it means everything else is changed. The convoy of changes goes from our challenged personal capacities trough already manifested social changes challenged by progressive technologies and economical possibilities. It is important to ask: When the concept of education is changing? Who is ready for the change first: those who need to be educated, those who provide education, or those who finance education – or maybe those who benefit economically by producing the digital infra?

Seela is a representative of a digital generation. In this second part of her narrative, she discusses the educational system that has been available for her:

For me, digital education started only in the fifth grade. It wasn’t common to use it at school before. Of course, we had those computers at school even when I was in the first grade. It was only like on brakes. We could maybe play a game there or do something. Then we started to do the presentations and books started to be on the digital form. Now it is like almost every other subject that I have digital. At least you have an option to use the actual book or pdf form. At the fifth grade we really started to learn how it works.

How the teacher presented to you this new way of learning? Did you have some previous knowledge, or did you start to learn there in the school?

Because my dad is very good in using computers, he taught me earlier so. It was like I know more about the computer then my teachers. This is common even nowadays. They don’t know what they are doing. They just thought what they must teach us, but we knew a bit more, maybe because of how much we use digital devices in our free time.

What do you think, is it because of your generation? You are progressive, and the school system needed to adopt on you and your knowledge. Or the school system did it anyways?

I can’t say it really but maybe the school system did it to be more united with the students that they are in this day, you know. Not in the past. They wanted to be more modern and give us more options. Maybe better learning, I don’t know. Sometimes I think digital books are worse than actual books. Sometimes carrying the book and open it is more motivating than always have a phone and a computer with you that you can do everything you need. It doesn’t motivate you as much. But I see why is better, for example with writing. You can easily correct mistakes or whatever you want. It is faster. They can probably teach us more because they don’t have to waste a time to write everything down first. They have already prepared dias or presentations. And they can just share it with us. We can learn it from there, we don’t have to write it down. Probably for saving time also. […] If we have a homework is it to do some project and it needs to be done in deadline, for specific date. We usually do those with computers and if we need to write something down is in the class. You don’t have to write anything at home.

Did you feel there is a switch in your education, or was it fluid for you? Have you been introduced to libraries at the beginning of your education?

I never really was a library person. I never went there if I wasn’t forced to. Now I never go there basically. No one requires me to go there. But if I want to do something at home, I usually do with my computer. I can just have everything on one page and not go true a lot of paper waste. We must pay for every book and the notebook and a pencil that we have. In high school they don’t provide us those. Nowadays they upgraded or did something with the system and next year people that come to high school, they get everything for free. We are still in older system. I was a little mad at first but then they offer online books. Now I am not too mad about it because I have an option for using online books. I have a smooth switch because still I can have a physical book. It is not only one option. If you are going to do some project with your close friend, you might go to a café or in someone’s place like yourself or the friends and do the project. But we never gather for doing the homework. I like to have my free time as my free time and school time as a school time. So, I try to balance it like that.

Do you feel that each student, your friends (not from your school only) have equal opportunity?

Yes, usually when someone is struggling, they do get the help. this is really god. They don’t let anyone just suffering in their learnings. It will be unfair if you have difficulties with reading or writing. You will get the help with that. But not every school has it equal, you know. Now we can’t get into school we want to. We must do the test to get in there at the first place. Of course, that depends on you. What opportunities you will get. I think maybe in a comprehensive school they have their bigger inequalities; you know. That could be fixed easily but somehow, they don’t do it.

And: do you think that owning an iPhone or any smartphone or a computer is possible for most of the students?

It must be. But we must purchase our own computers and it can get really expensive. The school doesn’t give us anything. I don’t know for the next year students might get their own computers for free. Now it is impossible to live without a smartphone but smartphone is not as needed as the computer. But if you don’t have a computer you don’t get to go to the school basically.

Biljana Stankovic

May I introduce: Seela in the Digiland – PART I: Growing up as a digital native

When we discuss digital natives, there is a need to consider what – for example – 30 years of an age difference have to say about new technologies and digital environment. To bridge this gap and understand the world we are studying, a three-part narrative of a young person who acts in digital environments like “a fish in the water” is presented in this blog. Young people can have strong self-awareness and openness towards new ways of express, and many of them also show this publicly.

As a researcher in the DEQUAL project at University of Eastern Finland I was privileged to interview a smart, creative, and progressive young person – Seela – who is also my friend, even though the age difference between us is 30 years. At her age I had no possibilities to befriend with older generations. Accordingly, there were no social platforms gathering people by a same interest. For older generations it was not cool to hang out with teenagers – and vice versa. Nowadays are different and there are many advantages in that. This is especially focal when youth research is under the scrutiny.

In her orientation towards the world around her, Seela is an open, welcoming, and inclusive young soul. During the interview, we talked about her childhood, schooling, hobbies, socializing, and free time considering new technologies in the digital environment. This text is a first part of the narrative of Seela and considers growing up into a digitalized reality.

I was born in the 1970s, when electronic digital wristwatches costed as today’s amount of 12 000$. In the 1980s, they could already be found in cereal boxes as cheap giveaways. My mother was a computer programmer for the National Bank, and at the age of four I saw the first IBM computer at her office. The whole room filled with odd machines in size of a refrigerator. Then, during the late 1990’s, at the half of my studies, I got my first e-mail address and a possibility to go through few available web pages.

Seela, on her part, was about five years old when she was introduced to video games on computer and already collecting toys with digital functions. In the fifth grade of elementary school she was introduced to online learning methods – and today, together with her peers, she already mastered a life in other “dimension”: the virtual world of digital era. Underneath Seela’s own words are cited in describing what it means to grow up in a totally different era than that of my childhood.

Seela’s narrative: Part I – Growing up

 I asked Seela to tell about her background, her interests and free time.

My name is Seela. I am seventeen and I go to Joensuun Yhteiskoulun lukio and study there on this art line. I live in Joensuu. Currently I live with my mom. I moved from my dad’s place. I like to free dive on my free time, also play the ukulele and do different kinds of things. I also go to the gym almost every day. Photo and videography are also a thing of mine and different artistic things. I think I gain it from my parents because they both are artists. My mom is a dancer. My dad is a musician. So, I think it goes with the genes that I like artistic things.

Let’s start with your first remembering of toys and devices being around you. What you liked to play with. When was your first contact with something considering display or digital sound?

 Yes, I think it was about 2007 when I started to play with toys with something digital on it. I always liked these “Pet shop” things. They have also little buildings and accessories that has a light on it or a sound. I still have those around somewhere. I love miniature things …still. These are the first things and at those times I also got my first cell phone. It was little seashell shape thing with little buttons and numbers in it. And as I remember, the only game on it was the worm game.  And I was playing it.  And two years later, as I remember, I got the first Nintendo wii.

I think I was six or five. My dad was very interested in video games like always. We started to play video games with my brother who is four years older than me. And it was always the fun doing it together, not alone. And we start to have more and more of these games. We had literally the biggest pile you can imagine. That was always around and since then I enjoy video games very much. I play with my friends now or alone. It is more with the computer, but we also have the newest Nintendo. It is really cool, portable and you can also set it with a TV.

And is there a community with friends like gathering of gamers?

Yea, they can be like – a local friends that I meet every day basically in my real life. And there are some universal people from around the world that I talk to while playing video games. It is really a fun like learning the new language at the same time. Also gaining a new friend. It is multitasking. Now when I play on my computer is maybe a Counter strike main one. And there are always new people that you play with. When I play with my Nintendo switch there is the multiplayer option. And I got to play with this pretty famous Youtuber once. I was following him maybe a few years. It was really fun experience with that because you don’t always end up playing with the best ones. He doesn’t accept all the requests. But he was watching my game hours, how much I play the game. He was super smash pro. And said OK to me. And I needed to beat him. We don’t know each other personally but it was really hyping me up to play more.

So, do you use game names? You can tell one. Use the old ones if you don’t want to discover your gamer identity.

Yes, I actually don’t have just one game name in every game. I have different names. And I have this one SNII – snii – it is really funny. Some people call me by that name because it is funny, and they remember me by that name. I almost laugh every time someone calls me by that name. And it goes with many people when you call them their game names, it is like a second personality. Some games go with something like an emotional or nostalgic connection. Like with the soundtracks of the game. I listen soundtracks of the game even when I am not playing it. Every day I have the LEGEND OF ZELDA. I am listening this soundtrack every time I am doing the exam if they allow us to listen the music. It really calms me down. It has always been around. That game is the one that started my gaming career. Not career maybe but the habit of playing.

Biljana Stankovic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNIGCNO5ss4

 

Nuorisobarometri 2020 ja moniulotteinen digitalisaatio

Vuoden 2020 Nuorisobarometri julkaistiin 23.3.2021. Nuorisobarometrin teemana on nuorille tarjottavat palvelut, joita tarkastellaan käytön, tarpeen ja riittävyyden näkökulmista. Tutkimus perustuu 1938 puhelinhaastatteluun. Nuorilta kysyttiin sosiaali- ja terveyspalveluiden, TE-palveluiden ja kohdennetun nuorisotyön palveluiden lisäksi myös kulttuuriin, vapaa-aikaan, ja avoimeen nuorisotyöhön liittyvien palveluiden käytöstä (s. 5).

Tässä blogitekstissä nostan esille Nuorisobarometrissa käsiteltyjä digitalisaatioon liittyviä asioita, jotka tuntuivat mielestäni merkityksellisiltä DEQUAL-hankkeessa tarkasteltavien digitaalisen eriarvoisuuden ja osallisuuden kysymysten näkökulmasta. Sivunumerot viittaavat barometriin, jonka tarkemmat tiedot löytyvät tekstin lopusta.

Vaikka nuori ikä ei itsestään selvästi tarkoita positiivista suhtautumista teknologian käyttöön, barometrin mukaan ”yleisilme nuorten suhtautumisesta sähköisiin palveluihin on verrattain myönteinen”, eikä sukupuolten välillä ole juurikaan eroja (s. 53). Nuorten kokemuksia ja näkemyksiä sähköisistä sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon palveluista selvitettiin 17 kysymyksen sarjalla. Lähes kaikilla barometriin vastanneilla nuorilla oli käytössään nettiliittymä tai älypuhelin. Sähköisen asioinnin tunnukset oli 93 prosentilla nuorista, yli 20-vuotiailla jopa 99 prosentilla vastaajista. Enemmistö (63 %) kertoi haluavansa käyttää tarvitsemiaan palveluita mahdollisimman paljon sähköisesti ja varsin pieni osa vastaajista (15 %) ilmoitti, ettei ollut lainkaan kiinnostunut sähköisestä asioinnista.

Vuorovaikutus on teema, joka usein nousee esille palvelujen digitalisoinnin yhteydessä. Barometrin vastaajista jopa 62 prosenttia oli sitä mieltä, ettei henkilökohtaista tapaamista voi korvata sähköisellä yhteydenotolla. Sähköisten palvelujen lisäksi nuoret kaipasivat palvelutilanteisiin myös kasvokkaisia kohtaamisia (s. 148). Tämä kuvastaa hyvin sitä, ettei palvelujen digitalisaatio ole joko−tai-ilmiö vaan sekä−että. Tarvetta on monenlaisille palveluille ja ihmiset käyttävät sellaisia palveluja, jotka kokevat itselleen sopiviksi ja hyödyllisiksi juuri tietyssä tilanteessa. Palvelusektorille tämä asettaa haasteita, ja Susan Eriksson toteaakin omassa näkökulmakirjoituksessaan, että ”digitalisoitumisen pakko aiheuttaa nykyisellään jopa yhteisötason ristiriitoja”. Nuorista vastaajista 12 prosenttia koki, että sähköisiä palveluita on vaikea löytää ja yhtä monen mielestä ne ovat vaikeita käyttää. 10 prosentin mielestä sähköinen palvelu ei ole saatavilla silloin, kun sitä haluaisi käyttää. Yleisempi epäilys liittyi turvallisuuteen. Yli neljännes vastaajista (26 %) oli huolissaan omien henkilökohtaisten tietojensa turvallisuudesta. Mikäli Nuorisobarometrin haastattelut olisi tehty vasta Psykoterapiakeskus Vastaamon tietomurron jälkeen loppuvuodesta 2020, tämä luku olisi voinut olla vieläkin suurempi.

DEQUAL-hankkeen keskeisen teeman eli eriarvoistavan digitalisaation kannalta on tärkeä huomata, että vieraskieliset kokevat sähköiset palvelut suhteellisen usein vaikeakäyttöisiksi (16 %) tai niiden löytämisen vaikeaksi (21 %). Sähköisten palveluiden ongelmalliseksi kokemisen riskiä lisääviä taustatekijöitä olivat lastensuojelutausta, haittaava terveys- tai mielenterveysongelma ja kokemus vähemmistöön kuulumisesta (s. 53). Hankaluudet näyttäisivät kasaantuvan siis jo muutoinkin haasteellisessa elämäntilanteessa eläville nuorille, ja tämä saattaa johtaa digisyrjäytymiseen.

On erittäin tärkeä muistaa, etteivät nuoret suinkaan ole heterogeeninen ryhmä. Näkökulmakirjoituksessaan Susan Eriksson kirjoittaa yhteiskunnan ja kulttuurin digitalisoitumisen mukanaan tuomista hyödyistä vammaisille nuorille. Koska monille vammaisille nuorille digitaalinen maailma tarjoaa virkistystä, osallisuutta, sosiaalisia suhteita ja uusia yhteisöjä, mikä on puolestaan parantanut vammaisten nuorten elämänlaatua ja yhdenvertaisuuden kokemusta. Erikson nostaa esille myös sähköisten palveluiden esteettömyyden ja korostaa, että yli kolmasosa Nuorisobarometrin vastaajista ei koe sähköisten palvelujen olevan esteettömiä. Esteettömyyskysymykset saattavat olla vieraita sellaisille nuorille, joita ne eivät kosketa, sillä moni vastaaja ei osaa vastata esteettömyyskysymykseen (43 %). (s. 147–148.)

Camilla Granholm pohtii omassa näkökulmakirjoituksessaan digitalisaation ja saavutettavuuden suhdetta julkisten sosiaalipalvelujen näkökulmasta.  Hän tarkastelee nuorten digitaitoja ja toteaa, että erityisesti syrjäytymisvaarassa olevat työelämän ja koulutuksen ulkopuolella olevat nuoret ja nuoret aikuiset ovat herkemmin myös digitaidoiltaan heikommassa asemassa.  Esimerkiksi tekstipohjaiset palvelut ovat ongelmallisia heikon luku- ja kirjoitustaidon omaaville nuorille. Tärkeä huomio on kuitenkin se, että digitaaliset palvelut voivat madaltaa kynnystä ottaa yhteyttä ja hakea apua vaikeaan elämäntilanteeseen (s. 171). Granholm peräänkuuluttaakin kestävää digitaalista muutosta, jossa palvelujen parissa työskenteleville tulisi tarjota jatkuvasti koulutusta ja ohjausta, jotta työntekijät voivat päivittää ja ylläpitää omaa tietotaitoa ja osaamistaan (s. 172).

Edellä esitellyt näkökulmat osoittavat, ettei digitalisaatio ole yksiselitteisesti hyvä tai huono ilmiö. Tutkittua tietoa sen moninaisista ja monisyistä vaikutuksista tarvitaan kuitenkin nuortenkin osalta lisää, samoin rohkeutta tarttua digitalisaation luomiin epäkohtiin sekä tahtoa korjata epäkohtia joko teknologian keinoin tai tarjoamalla sähköisille palveluille vaihtoehtoja. Tällöin ollaan tarveperustaisten palvelujen äärellä, joiden suunnittelussa palvelujen kohderyhmään kuuluvien on hyvä olla mukana. Nuorten kokemuksia on syytä kuunnella!

Kristiina Korjonen-Kuusipuro

Lähteet:

Berg, Päivi & Myllyniemi, Sami (toim.) (2021) Palvelu pelaa! Nuorisobarometri 2020. Valtion nuorisoneuvosto Nuorisotutkimusseura/Nuorisotutkimusverkosto Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö. Saatavilla verkossa osoitteessa: https://tietoanuorista.fi/wpcontent/uploads/2021/03/nuorisobarometri-2020-web.pdf.

Erikson, Susan. Nuorten tyytyväisyys palveluihin vammaisten näkökulmasta. Näkökulmakirjoitus, emt. 145–150.

Granholm, Camilla. Tekeekö palveluiden digitalisaatio julkisista sosiaalipalveluista nuorille helpommin saavutettavia? Näkökulmakirjoitus, emt. 169–176.

Digital Imaginaries and Imperatives of Education of the 21st Century – Critical Perspectives from Sociology of New Public Management and Philosophy of Education

ABSTRACT FOR THE ACM CHI CONFERENCE 2021

”More than 70 startups from across 15 countries have graduated from xEdu, some of which have gone on to raise follow-on capital. They include 3DBear, a developer of augmented reality learning experiences, coding education startup Bomerbot, social-emotional program provider Mightifier and Roybi, which makes educational robots for kids.” (Wan 2020.)

INTRODUCTION

In this paper we reflect digital imaginaries and imperatives around the pedagogic and didactic discussions and practices of child and youth education. Today we are living within a global moment and political, as well as economic, project where digitalization is claimed to solve many problems. With ‘digital imaginaries’ we are referring to politics, policies, and discourses whose aim is to advance the overall change within which many both societal and individual level activities will be arranged and conducted in a digitalized way (Alastalo et al. 2014). With ‘digital imperatives’, then, we are referring to the societal and socio-cultural realities where there are no options to step out from digi-technological equipment use (Talsi & Tuuva-Hongisto 2009) or to seek other ways to arrange school-going, working, communitarian participation, customership, or clientness – to practice citizenship in its very wide sense. Digital imperatives, thus, mean that individuals and organizations have to become acquainted with digital technology: to create wide software understanding and ‘craft’, as well as to comply with quite wide hardware ownership.

Even though our motto presented above does not refer to child and youth education only and directly, it opens up the wide field of promises linked with digitalization. Our examination focuses on digitalization of child and youth education for two main reasons. Firstly, educational digitalization is one of the strongest international level aspirations with shared national level aims and argued with ‘humanistic’ discourses (see e.g., EU 2021). Secondly, young people are often claimed to form a generation of ‘digital natives’. This attribute, then, is often used as one self-evident legitimation for political programs of digital education: “a shepherd has to herd where the sheep already are”.

In this paper, we constitute our scrutiny on the ongoing discussions around developmental programs of education and the ways they have been spread by those who benefit these programs. We borrow a starting point for our scrutiny from the European Union (EU) level policy making. The strategies of, for example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) put a pressure on the EU’s educational strategies, and thus have a vast impact on, European nation-level realities and on the concrete fields of educational and schooling practices. In our analysis, we put the discursive strategies of digital education in front of a mirror of critical reflections striving from the sociology of New Public Management (NPM) and from the humanistic philosophy of education, as well as from Karl Marx’s prognostic theories of intensification of economy and added value in covering societal ideologies.

WHOSE INTERESTS?

The European Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan 2021–2027 (EU 2021) brings out the massive economic value of digitalization of education. The new Action Plan is created to outline the commission’s vision for “high-quality, inclusive and accessible digital education in Europe”. One of its overall objectives is expressed to make “education and training systems fit for the digital age”. The objectives are ratified with two strategic priorities that are “development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem” and enhancement of “digital skills and competences for the digital transformation”. A related document (EU 2020) to the Action Plan refers to President Ursula von der Leyen’s political guidelines highlighting a “need to unlock the potential of digital technologies for learning and teaching and to develop digital skills for all”.

It is notable that in these kinds of strategic visions and political declarations digitalization itself is not explained or argued as a choice but presented as self-evidence that justifies itself. In this notion we witness, for example, Michel Foucault’s (1969/1972) idea about what the attribute “discursive” means: a discourse is a truth that legitimates itself without any need to be kept up with other means. Discursive words, when enunciated from a powerful position, have huge practical implications as they begin to guide practical activities and life-course choices of “all” (as von der Leyen, for example, puts it).

The Foucaultian (1969/1972) way to define discourse is paying attention also to the fact that large discursive ‘dos and don’ts’ are usually not signed just by anyone recognizable – and indeed, articulated programs and visions of digital education are often published by, for instance, governments, ministries, trade unions, and training organizations or centers (see e.g., the Trade Union of Education in Finland 2021). Within the theme of digitalization of education this is especially notable: the strongest discourse is not produced by grassroot level pedagogists but by economists, economically oriented politicians, and industries that produce digital infrastructure. One facet that usually remains hidden as a beneficiary in the – partly very humanistically delirious – declarations aimed at digitalization are those who make business with and from it.

From the ordinary user’s perspective, the speed and turbulence of digital hardware and software development, as well as their marketing, are unaccountable. However, we can get some idea about the imagination of the digital industry if we look at how digital technology is developed for ever more various groups of people to be educated. For example, the growth into a digitalized life-world (Heller 1984) is expected to begin already years before the formal schooling age. Examples of a digital enterprise named Kano (2021) and its digital learning tools offer a sight to a tendency where digitalization can be seen as an educational tool in developing effective ‘digital citizens’ already from the very early childhood. According to Kano (2021) and its offers, preschool kids can assemble their own computer or a tablet from a pack of components – like building a castle from Lego bricks earlier in the history. Then they can code, create video game characters or learn online basics. All this is promoted with claims of offering kids “ownership over their learning devices and ways of learning”.

The kinds of expressions presented by Kano (2021) are in line with the general contemporary jargons of common (project) management, conceptualized as NPM in social scientific analyses of the Zeitgeist and its dominant ideology. The discourse of NPM has shown to be a discourse of economical optimizing, where the idea is to ‘empower’ individuals as productive and ‘harmless’ societal agents (Rose 1989; Cruikshank 1999; Kaisto & Pyykkönen 2016). In the discourses of digitalization, empowerment means, to a large extent, to grow up with algorithms and to accept to do it as circumscribed by digital devices.

To sum up, we claim that digitalization is, except a covering societal practice, also an economically led ideology even though we do not always recognize it as such. Digitalization does not only create economy but also leans on it and is legitimized by it, and produces great added value to those who own means of production, in the classical Marxian sense (1867). The ideological modifying of people takes place with the means of NPM, within a very early start in producing agents who grow up as ‘digital natives’ – or digital citizens.

EDUCATION WITHIN PLATFORM CONNECTIONS

Even though teachers acting with children and young people can take only slightly part in national and international level strategic work concerning their work, they, however, change those strategies to everyday realities of schooling – and thus also to the contents of learning. When we move our scrutiny to this grassroot level, a more pedagogical issue, then, rises: how to reflect the educational effects and side effects (“unanticipated consequences”, as Robert K. Merton (1936) has put the term) of digital education? When we consider philosophy of education, we face no reflections of technology; rather we face such concepts as pedagogical ethics, moral regulation, trustful, intimate and interactive relationships, and increase of solidarity, empathy and esthetic capability (e.g., Biesta 2013).

From this perspective, school-going is not just learning techniques: What to do and how to do? Humanistic basic capabilities and orientations still form the contents of the most national level curricula (e.g., POPS Finland 2014). In addition, competences called academic skills are still mentioned as general aims of education: learning to think, question, discuss, and argue, as well as growing up to literacy as a multilevel capability and capacity. Studies on cognition and mental activities have, however, shown that learning in digital environments can, indeed, have unanticipated consequences if it will become the only rule. Handicraft with letters, numbers, and papers as a haptic interaction between a text and its reader or writer is still seen as an action that has a constitutive role in learning and cognitive development, and may even be a significant building block in language development. An interesting scrutiny about this topic is conducted by Anne Mangen and Jean-Luc Velay (2010) who have pondered what might happen when people as learners lose the hand-pen-and-paper-connection and their penmanship:

”As a highly sophisticated and comprehensive way of externalizing our thoughts […] writing always involves the skillful handling of some mechanical/technical device, and necessarily results in a visuographic representation – some kind of (more or less) readable text, in the form of a string of letters or symbols. […] Changing the technologies of writing has profound implications, at least in part, because different technologies are materially configured in profoundly different ways. That is, different writing technologies set up radically different spatial, tactile, visual, and even temporal relations between the writer’s material body and his or her material text.”

It seems that in today’s school-going digi-technical skills have overcome both ethical and academic aspirations of education. A lot of attention is focusing on what young people need to know about technology – that is, the forms of competence and understanding they need if they are going to use technology effectively and for wanted purposes, in terms of digital literacy. Within this educational tendency, technology can, even maybe imperceptibly, fade the classical educational aspirations of internalizing empathy, developing social capabilities and academic skills, as well as the learner’s haptic connection with a text as a manifold object to work with.

Today young people are offered a new kind of literacy. When literacy in the nearby educational history meant learning letters and words, often in verbal intergenerational interaction, digital literacy of today means use of digital devices, starting with ‘synthetic’ songs, cartoons, or game applications for toddlers. Electric toys can be programmed to give even emotional impressions when a baby presses or pushes certain parts of them. These devices are advertised with assumptions that educational aims can be reached now in new kinds of agendas for meeting and perceiving – but can they, actually? At least this far there are no longitudinal research data to convince that.

CONCLUDING NOTES

Only a couple of decades ago a concept of information society, connected with the idea of network society, was introduced (see e.g., Castells 2000). Already during the sunrise of that societal revolution the links between knowing and technology were obvious even not inevitably explicitly articulated (see e.g., Finnish Prime Minister’s Office 2006). After this, the links have been strengthened and it is no longer possible to participate in formal education in practice without the necessary technological know-how and owning (buying and investigating in) digital devices. The digitalization of education, thus, is not a choice to be made but a covering and forcing reality.

The overall winning streak of digitalization is a crystallized example of how societal realities are constructed in a discursive way. Behind hegemonic discourses we can – and should – also pay attention to (often anonymous) facets with special interests linked with the topic (Foucault 1969/1972). In this paper, we have reflected digitalization as a process that clearly serves the aims of NPM policies. Behind them, then, often implicit links with market economy and business can be pointed. In a network society, however, the power of business is hard to show directly (Castells 2000). One reason for this effective hiding is the jargon of NPM that turns societal reforms into a language that manages to translate the interests of market economy into individuals’ best interests (e.g., Cruikshank 1999; Kaisto & Pyykkönen 2016).

Our aim in this scrutiny is not to claim that digitalization is a failed or oppressing reform that people of today just have to accept. We, however, call for a wider look at this discursive project where people have not been asked if they really are wanting and aware of the all-consuming change – digital imperative – they have now to live in. This awareness can be especially important in the fields of education where many ethical commitments and even universal internalized capabilities still are mentioned as bases and arguments for action but taught in a reality with sparse human encounters and no concrete encounters with the text. 

Biljana Stankovic,
Päivi Armila &
Ville-Samuli Haverinen

REFERENCES

 Alastalo, Marja, Kunelius, Risto & Muhonen, Reetta (2014). Evidenssiä eliitille ja kansainvälistä

huipputiedettä? Tutkimuksen vaikuttavuuden mielikuvastot tiedepolitiikan resursseina. In Reetta

Muhonen & Hanna-Mari Puuska (Eds.) Tutkimuksen kansallinen tehtävä. Tampere: Vastapaino, 119–149.

Biesta, Gert (2013). Beautiful Risk of Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Castells, Manuel (2000). The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Volume 1. Malden: Blackwell.

Cruikshank, Barbara (1999). The Will to Empower. Democratic Citizens and Other Subjects. London: Cornell University Press.

EU (2020). Digital Education Action Plan 2021–2027. Resetting Education and Training for the Digital Age. https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/default/files/document-library-docs/deap-communication-sept2020_en.pdf. Last accessed 02/24/2021.

EU (2021). Digital Education Action Plan 2021–2027. https://ec.europa.eu/education/education-in-the-eu/digital-education-action-plan_en. Last accessed 02/26/2021.

Finnish Prime Minister’s Office (2006). Uudistuva, ihmisläheinen ja kilpailukykyinen Suomi. Kansallinen tietoyhteiskuntastrategia 2007–2015. Helsinki: Finnish Prime Minister’s Office.

Foucault, Michel (1969/1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge (L’archéologie du savoir). New York: Pantheon Books.

Heller, Agnes (1984). Everyday Life. London: Routledge.

Kaisto, Jani & Pyykkönen, Miikka (2016). Hallintavalta. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.

Kano (2021). Education. https://kano.me/eu/education/resources. Last accessed 02/24/2021.

Mangen, Anne & Velay, Jean-Luc, Velay (2010). Digitizing Literacy: Reflections on the Haptics of Writing. Advances in haptics 1(3), 86–401.

Marx, Karl (1867). Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie. Volume 1: Der Produktionsprozess des Kapitals. Hamburg: Verlag von Otto Meissner.

Merton, Robert, K. (1936). The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action. American Sociological Review1(6), 894–904.

Rose, Nikolas (1989). Governing the Soul. Shaping of the Private Self. London: Routledge.

Talsi, Noora & Tuuva-Hongisto, Sari (2009). “Ei vietetty sinä jouluna tekniikan riemujuhlaa.” Teknologinen imperatiivi teknologiaelämäkerroissa (“We didn’t celebrate technology on that Christmas.” Technological imperative in technobiographies). Kulttuurintutkimus 26(2009), 71–82.

The Trade Union of Education in Finland (2021). Koulutuksen digitalisaatio. https://www.oaj.fi/politiikassa/koulutuksen-digitalisaatio. Last accessed 02/26/2021.

Wan, Tony (2020). Finland’s First Education Technology Fund, Sparkmind, Closes €40 Million. EdSurge. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-03-14-finland-s-first-education-technology-fund-sparkmind-closes-40-million. Last accessed 02/25/2021.

Kohti aineistonkeruuta

Olemme Dequal-hankkeessa aloittelemassa aineistonkeruuvaihetta. Tavoitteenamme on tuottaa sekä määrällistä että laadullista tutkimusaineistoa kolmella erilaisella paikkakunnalla eri puolilla Suomea vuonna 2005 syntyneiden nuorten keskuudessa. Tutkimusluvat on saatu ja kaikki näyttäisi olevan hyvin.

Tutkimusaineiston tuottaminen alkaa nuorten digitaalisten laitteiden käyttöä, osallisuutta ja asuinpaikkaa taustoittavalla kyselyllä, jota olemme suunnitelleet joulukuusta alkaen. Kysely alkaa olla valmis ja se olisi hyvä saada lähtemään nuorille maaliskuun aikana. Ajatuksemme oli tehdä yhteistyötä koulujen kanssa, mutta kevään 2021 koronatilanteen huonontuminen tekee tästä haasteellista. Maaliskuun koronasulun takia leviämis- ja kiihtymisalueilla yläkoulut siirtyvät etäopetukseen kolmeksi viikoksi. Sekä oppilaat että opettajat ovat väsyneitä poikkeusoloissa selviämiseen. Kouluille tulee tällä hetkellä myös paljon tutkimuspyyntöjä, eikä niihin liittyvä lisätyö ymmärrettävästi innosta. Emme tietenkään halua kuormittaa nuoria tai opettajia entisestään, joten yritämme miettiä myös muita lähestymistapoja.

Laadulliseen aineistokokonaisuuteen kuuluu fokusryhmä- ja yksilöhaastatteluja, joita aiomme toteuttaa etnografista otetta hyödyntäen vuoden 2021 aikana. Toivoisimme, että fokusryhmiin osallistuisi noin 30, yksilöhaastatteluihin ainakin 10 nuorta jokaisella paikkakunnalla.

Etnografinen ote tarkoittaa mm. tutkijan ja tutkittavan tiivistä vuorovaikutusta ja luottamuksellisen suhteen syntymistä tutkijan ja tutkittavien välille. Luottamuksellisten suhteiden kehittyminen ei tietenkään tapahdu hetkessä, vaan tarvitaan aikaa tutustua puolin ja toisin. Jotta pääsisimme nuorten arjessa vaikuttavien digitalisaation eriarvoistavien piirteiden jäljille, meidän olisi kuitenkin hyvä kuulla juuri nuorille tärkeistä asioista heidän itsensä kertomana. Nuorten parissa etnografiaa tutkimusmenetelmänä hyödyntäneen Pia Olssonin (2018) mielestä haastattelut ovat yleensä nuorille mieluisia tapahtumia, vaikka ne eivät aina suju tutkijan odottamalla tavalla. Tämä vaatiikin tutkijalta joustavaa mieltä ja kykyä sopeutua nopeastikin muuttuviin tilanteisiin. Haastatteluun osallistuvan nuoren ei aina ole helppo pukea kokemuksiaan sanoiksi, ja siksi ryhmähaastattelu saattaakin olla nuorille hyvä tapa tutustua sekä tutkijaan että tutkimukseen. Etnografiaan kuuluu myös havainnointi, joka on tärkeä osa aineistonkeruuta. Havainnointia voi tapahtua esimerkiksi niin, että nuori näyttää tutkijoille, miten hän erilaisia digitaalisia palveluja käyttää tai mitä hän digitaalisessa maailmassa puuhailee. Tutkijat voivat myös ideoida uusia havainnoimisen tapoja yhdessä nuorten kanssa, mikä lisää nuorten mahdollisuuksia vaikuttaa tutkimukseen ja määritellä osallistumisensa tapoja.

Tutkijoiden työtä ohjaa hyvä tieteellinen käytäntö, joka tarkoittaa esimerkiksi sitä, että tutkijat suunnittelevat, tekevät, analysoivat ja dokumentoivat tutkimuksensa huolellisesti ja harkitusti. Hyvään tieteelliseen käytäntöön ja tutkimusetiikkaan kuuluvat myös tutkittavien oikeudet. Lapsilla ja nuorilla on oikeus tulla kuulluiksi, mutta tutkimukseen osallistumisen on kuitenkin täysin vapaaehtoista, eikä tutkimus saa olla häiritsevää. Dequal-hankkeessa meidän onkin harkittava myös sellaista vaihtoehtoa, ettei aineistonkeruu kevään 2021 aikana onnistu. Tällöin meidän on aikataulutettava aineistonkeruu uudelleen, mietittävä vaihtoehtoisia tutkimuspaikkakuntia tai etnografian toteuttamista verkossa.

Nuorten kokemukset digitalisaatiosta ja erityisesti sen syrjäyttävästä vaikutuksesta ansaitsevat tulla näkyviksi ja kuulluiksi. Siksi toivon, että pääsemme aineistonkeruussa vauhtiin mahdollisimman pian ja saamme nuoria kertomaan kokemuksistaan.

Lähteet:

Hämeenaho, Pilvi & Koskinen-Koivisto, Eerika (toim.) (2014) Moniulotteinen etnografia. Ethnos ry, Helsinki.

Olsson, Pia (2018) Kaikki vähä erilaisii. Yläkoulun sosiaaliset suhteet. Gaudeamus, Helsinki.

Tutkimusetiikan eurooppalaiset käytännöt ja ohjeistus. (2020) The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Revised Edition -ohjeen suomennos. ALLEA – All European Academies. Berliini.

Kristiina Korjonen-Kuusipuro, FT, projektitutkija, XAMK

Twitter: @KrisuKorjonen

Tunnelmia virtuaalikonferenssista – Nuorisotutkimuspäivät 2020

Tylsää, puuduttavaa, pelkkiä ruutuja – tasavertaisuutta, sosiaalisuutta, aivojumppaa. Siinä ajatuksia virtuaalikonferenssista, sekä omiani että kollegojen. Olemme viimeisen vuoden aikana tottuneet tuijottamaan ruutuja. Kokoukset, seminaarit, tapaamiset – kaikki verkossa. Keväällä 2020 konferenssit ja seminaarit peruttiin, mutta sen jälkeen tilaisuudet on järjestetty onlineversioina.

On tärkeää, että seminaareja järjestetään, sillä tutkimusta ei voi tehdä tyhjiössä. Ilman älyllisiä virikkeitä, ajatuksia virittäviä keskusteluja, ajatuksenpätkiä ja ”artikulaatioita”, ei synny mitään uutta tai uusia ideoita. Seppo Knuuttila, Lawrence Grossbergia mukaillen, on pohtinut runsaasti artikulaatioita ja uusien merkityksien syntyä.  Artikulaatiot ovat nivellyksiä ja uusia kytkentöjä, joissa uusi yhdistyy vanhaan tuottaen jotakin uutta. Merkityskäytäntöjä luodaan, puretaan ja uusinnetaan.

Seppo Knuuttila kirjoittaa artikulaatioista ja uuden kytkennöistä suhteessa tietotekniikan arkipäiväistymiseen. Tutkimme arjen ja tietotekniikan yhteen kietoutumista tutkimusryhmässä vuosituhannen alkupuoliskolla, jolloin tietotekniikka oli jotakin uutta arjessamme. Tänä päivänä digitaalisuus on niin saumaton osa arkeamme, että sen merkitystä arjessa tuntuu olevan jälleen vaikea hahmottaa. Silloin Suomessa – tietoyhteiskuntavisioiden luvatussa maassa – tietotekniikan uumoiltiin häivyttävän paikan merkitystä sekä luovan tasaveroisia mahdollisuuksia. Kun nyt virtuaalikonferenssissa olimme kuka missäkin paikassa, mutta kaikki samassa tilanteessa pelkän koneen ja ruudun äärellä, koin tämän hyvinkin todeksi.

Liimauduin ruudun äärelle päiväkausiksi kuuntelemaan Nuorisotutkimuspäiviä. Kuuntelin sellaista, josta en ollut kuullut ja sellaista, joka oli jo tuttua. Erityisellä mielenkiinnolla kuuntelin työryhmää ”Sosiaalisesti eristäytyneet nuoret ja sosiaalisen media”. Työryhmä kuvauksen mukaan ”Ei ole liioittelua sanoa, että monet niistä ilmiöistä, joista sosiologit ovat kiinnostuneita, tapahtuu nykyään some-alustoilla.” Olen samaa mieltä, ja lisäisin tähän myös kulttuurintutkijat.

Kiinnostavan konferenssin lopulla jo toivoin, että aina vastedeskin voisimme osallistua konferensseihin menemättä paikan päälle. Vaikka toiseen paikkaan siirtyminen, tapaamiset ja matkustaminen ja irrottautuminen arkisesta luovatkin aivan oman tunnelmansa, oli tässäkin nyt hyvät puolensa. Tosin monelta matka toisiin tiloihin jäi puolitiehen ja arki nivoutui konferenssin kotiosallistumisen moninaisiin kerroksiin. Kun kissa pyörähtää ruudussa tai pääpuhujan äiti soittaa kesken esitelmän, rikkoutuu lumous jollain käsittämättömän arkisella, sympaattisella ja tätä aikaa korostavalla tavalla: tietotekniikan, digitaalisuuden, työn ja arjen yhteen kietoutumisella.

Lähteet:

Grossberg, Lawrence 1995. Mielihyvän kytkennät: risteilyjä populaarikulttuurissa. Tampere: Vastapaino

Knuuttila, Seppo 2003. Arjen ongelma tietoyhteiskunnassa. Teoksessa Sanna Talja & Sari Tuuva (toim.) Tietotekniikkasuhteet. Kulttuurinen näkökulma. Helsinki: SKS.

Sari Tuuva-Hongisto, projektipäällikkö

Digital Literacy: Writing, Typewriting, Typing, One Finger Knowledge?

Few weeks after moving to Finland from Novi Sad, I received a message from an unknown Finnish lady trough the well-known social media called Facebook. After I changed information about my new location, she could find me through a search engine. She was looking for her old friend: ”… I am now sending a message to everyone in Facebook who seem to have lived in Novi Sad at the same time as her, to find her. We were pen pals about 20 years.”

Wikipedia says: Pen pals are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail. Pen pals are usually strangers whose relationship is based primarily, or even solely, on their exchange of letters.”

I was lucky with my “spying” contacts in Novi Sad and these pen pals were back in touch. This was a year 2016 when handwriting was already “passe” in Finland. Indeed, the BBC journal published an interesting text reporting about decision: Finnish students will no longer be taught handwriting at school, with typing lessons taking its place.

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-30146160

For many generations born before the new Millennium handwriting was a part of identity, personal character, or a testimony of ability to manifest knowledge (+ express oneself) and respect the reader (from parents and teachers up to bureaucratic services). Today, digital literacy shapes our daily life, and many are still struggling to manage even basic online services without assistance or start up help – but those born in last 15 years own digital literacy’s purpose. Owning and carrying it beyond the digital education system has planned it for them. Today, the young ones might never experience writing and sending a physical letter but, surely, they can read and learn about it on internet. Maybe one day they can visit a museum or a gallery with exhibited handwritten letters.

Still, switch from the “basic” literacy to digital literacy takes a lot of researchers’ attention. Science is not relaxed about it and many debates are active among sociologists, pedagogists, psychologists, etc.

”The act of writing is a complex cognitive process relying on intricate perceptual sensorimotor combinations. As a highly sophisticated and comprehensive way of externalizing our thoughts, giving shape to memories as well as future and dreams, sharing our stories and communicating our emotions and affections, writing always involves the skillful handling of some mechanical/technical device, and necessarily results in a visuographic representation – some kind of (more or less) readable text, in the form of a string of letters or symbols. As mentioned, in studies of literacy in general, and of writing (as well as of reading) in particular, the role and potential impact of the technologies employed – whether pen and paper, or keyboard and computer screen – is rarely addressed.

Changing the technologies of writing has profound implications, at least in part, because different technologies are materially configured in profoundly different ways. That is, different writing technologies set up radically different spatial, tactile, visual, and even temporal relations between the writer’s material body and his or her material text.”

Digitizing literacy: Reflections on the haptics of writing,
Anne Mangen & Jean-Luc Velay

During my research journey capturing the digital “sunrise” of Serbia, I am trying to reach understanding of this particular progress in education, to see if there are obstacles and limitations in a simple human “hunger” for knowledge. Of course, I ponder teachers’ roles and ways they re-prepare to “serve” knowledge in new clothes, trough new a medium with reconstructed methodologies and praxis. Teachers were first to be prepared for implementation of digital education what considers a new knowledge for themselves also. Digital literacy is one of them. Many countries worldwide, same as Serbia, are still longing to catch up with modern societies like Finland is. Serbia, as I mentioned in my previous blog writings, is doing her best to prepare for changes and start with digital education system as soon as it is possible. Materials and guiders for teachers already exist and the focus on their preparation is now into play. Latest research article for this topic point on – The importance of teachers’ digital literacy (Milena M. Vidosavljevic & Sladjana T. Vidosavljevic 2019):

”Teacher’s role started to be more complex in this changing world where knowledge is unlimited. Weinberger, Fischer and Mandl (2002, in Amin 2016) explained that today teachers are expected to become technologically oriented, to be more co-operators, to be more co-operators minded, critical independent professionals, and facilitators who will help students to analyze the quality of new sources and how to learn in a digital environment.  Therefore, no Wonder that, in this digital age, teachers are confronting with new challenges every day in respect of students, their individual needs, new hardware and software and their own developmental needs. ”(Sharma 2017.) Sharma (2017) explains that as a first challenge are diverse students who became more competitive, interrogative, knowledgeable, and more demanding from their teachers. Further, Sharma adds that modern students are always ”on”, and as digital natives, who learn and think differently, every moment use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other applications on their mobile phones and tablets, so, because of that reason they do not pay attention to classes too much which the job of teachers makes harder. As other challenges for all teachers in the digital age, Sharma points out the knowledge-based job market, lifelong learning, and job issues and give an explanation that the job of teachers is very tough to prepare students for future job market where are necessary technological skills.  Above all, this modern education represents a lifelong learning market where seminars and courses become more meaningful for teachers and students to get to know with the changing technologies in teaching learning. Taking into account that teachers are more engages in multiple tasking at college, school, university, the challenge is bigger for them to keep up with advanced technologies (Sharma 2017). The successful integration of new technologies into the classroom depends on the ability of modern teachers to develop classes and collaborative work, to create new learning environments, to link new pedagogy with technology.  For all of these, it is necessary to have a different set of teachers’ skills that includes frequent use of technologies with the aim to encourage digital literacy, knowledge deepening and knowledge creation in the teaching-learning process (UNESCO 2013).”

Before the new changes come, I hope we all will have an equal opportunity to adopt needed skills and routines for this switch in literacy. As a reward maybe Pen Pals’ museums will bloom all over the world. Our toddlers will scan them with age adopted gadgets which turns handwritten text into audio narration. Everything will be fine, won’t it?

Biljana Stankovic, Project Researcher

 

One Digital Imaginary: Digitalization of Education as Avant-Garde Education?

Example of digital literacy.
Example of digital literacy (https://digital-literacy.org.uk/curriculum-overview.aspx/#yr1)

The debate about digital technology and education has moved beyond the question of basic access. Attention is now focusing on the issue of what young people need to know about technology – that is, the forms of competence and understanding they need if they are going to use technology effectively and critically. The debate now is about ‘digital literacy’. And yet digital literacy is often narrowly defined, as merely a matter of technical skill.

Finland is one of the leading countries considering digital education and progressive education system. If experience makes routine and continuity makes resources, it is not a surprise that Finland already has Education Technology Fund.

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-03-14-finland-s-first-education-technology-fund-sparkmind-closes-40-million

According to Antti Korhonen, a partner at Sparkmind, this is the first Nordic-based fund focused on the education technology sector. “First and foremost, we are a European fund,” he says, which will focus its investment activity in northern Europe and the Baltic regions. But up to 25 percent of its capital can be invested in companies based outside of Europe, he adds. “We will not count out great companies from another region if they come along.”

From An official website of the European Union / Digital education action plan under the topic of Digital economy and society, Education and training.

https://ec.europa.eu/education/education-in-the-eu/digital-education-action-plan_en

Many ICT (information and communication technology) companies and digital agencies that provide tools and applications for digital education are galloping to make changes for new pupil’s generations. In already close cooperation with national ministries of education they guarantee more progressive learning methodologies, wellbeing, sustainable knowledge, and easier days in schools without heavily loaded bags with books and tools for learning. Most often those web pages have pictures and video clips where the traditional education is presented as boring or tiring.

On my journey to look for three biggest Finnish ICT companies and digital agencies which provide tools and applications for digital education I met Eddie.

  1. Eddie is a Wellbeing Ambassador, and he knows learning does not happen without wellbeing. He appeared on presenting page of working team for “Schoolday” (https://schoolday.com/ ) digital education agency. Please, visit this web page and choose “Tiimi” from the menu. there you will find listed pictures of team members and short note about their position. On the bottom of the list you will find a head of customer experience and Eddie. When you stop your cursor on each photo of a team member it turns to a childhood photo of a same person. It looks cute and it says those people who build applications and tool for digital education are bringing experiences from the school times. Also it means that pupils are creating the tools and applications for new pupils, new generations (like peer to peer). Eddi also have his version from the old times. He turns from the happy emoji to a sad emoji. And this is where we face the opinion that previous (old, traditional, last century) education was not giving us a happy time. Eddie is agent of the digital agency/company who assists you while you are learning. Same as teachers do. He pops up when you call him for help, guides you, explains you and motivates you to go on. Like teachers do. Just they are not hiding behind the curtains before you need them.

    Eddie on the working team list.
  2. Polar Partners They accelerates the world’s transition to 21st century education  – one person, one school and one society at a time (https://www.polarpartners.fi/).

    “Polar Partners Ltd is a fast-growing pioneer in designing schools of the future with the 21st century education, based on Finnish education model. We help our clients to design, set up, operate and develop their school with our unique, modular K-12 school concept and a proven business model (The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

    Polar Partners will deliver all the aspects of Finnish education by integrating the best expertise of our official partner network of over 40 universities and educational companies from Finland. With our extensive and recognized experience in managing educational projects, we are happy to start designing a school of the future, together with you.”

QRIDI

FOR TEACHERS: Qridi is an award-winning digital learning tool that has the power to transform learning from passive to active, and to build student agency and ownership. Qridi has been developed together with innovative Finnish teachers and experts and is based on the most recent research on learning.

With Qridi teachers can transform their teaching by:

  • visualizing the learning process
  • personalizing the learning experience
  • promoting student agency and transdisciplinary learning
  • encouraging students to assess and reflect on their own learning
  • Qridi is an ideal tool for a teacher who is committed to seeing the potential in every student and to supporting them on their life-long journey of learning.
  • Qridi is a great fit for both contact teaching and remote teaching as well as hybrid teaching.

Biljana Stankovic