Teachers conceptualising the other: What curriculum outcomes are being met by students outside of school in their informal learning with digital technologies?

Year: 2012

Author: Auld, Glenn, ohnson, Nicola

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The work of teachers is becoming more complex as their students engage in divergent practices with digital technologies in their out of school lives. At the same time, the work of teachers to mediate the abstract outcomes of the curriculum to their students in engaging ways remains unchanged. The sociocultural pedagogy literature is full with accounts of teachers who attempt to draw on the 'historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills' (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992, p. 133) to engage their students in learning in the classroom.  However what is not as well documented is the mapping of student outcomes as they perform their everyday practices outside of school with digital technologies. Educational technology research of young people largely focuses on school contexts, critically ignoring the value of informal learning outside of the school gates resulting in a funnel vision of what constitutes core practices of teachers.

Levinas' revelation of the 'other' will be used to explore students' informal learning outside of school  (Hand 2007). Consciousness, as outlined by Levinas is not about reducing and representing ourselves but articulates the morality that 'recognizes and welcomes the already established and inexhaustible other' (Hand, 2007, p. 40).  In this case the 'other' is curricula outcomes that are enacted in the students' lifeworld practices with digital technologies outside of the school gate.  Even if teachers use the methodology of funds of knowledge (Moll et al, 1992) drawing on the rich cultural experiences of the students to engage students in learning in the school context, teachers may miss 'other' outcomes that are bound by the informal digital practices of student learning outside of school.  Exploring these outcomes could be critical in repositioning teachers' professional boundaries and reimagining students' learning.

In a bid to support this argument, this paper considers a number of vignettes and identifies multiple outcomes that are covered in the everyday lives of children and young people. In doing so, we will draw upon the Australian Curriculum to map the students' informal learning outside of school, and argue that these practices are useful according to formalised, standardised curriculum. This paper is a timely contribution as it seeks to increase connections between the school and the home, and offers an important critical perspective that previous literature has largely overlooked.