Learning and Artefacts : On the Use of Information Technology in Educational Settings

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to develop and apply an empirical approach that can be used in studies of the relationship between different expectations of, and actual use of, information technology in educational settings. The studies focus on meanings of artefacts shaped in people's talk about and/or use of technology. The aim is based on the twofold ambition to (1) develop an approach that opens the way for empirical investigations on the usage of technology and (2) to make a contribution to research about computers in education. I show how an approach based on a sociocultural perspective on learning, specified by inspiration from a sociotechnical perspective on artefacts, generates new questions about the usage of technology and its influence on learning and socialisation. Furthermore, I show how discourse analyses, inspired by the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, can be used in studies of educational processes. The thesis consists of five case studies. In the first study I examine the rhetoric on information technology during the years 1994-1998 (Paper I). In the three following cases I analyse video-recorded conversation between children using computers in science education (Papers II-IV). In the light of the results from the first four studies I return in the fifth to the rhetoric on technology. In that paper different expectations on the usage of technology in education and on the technology users, expressed in the curricula for the Swedish compulsory school during the years 1962-1998, are clarified and discussed (Paper V). The results of the thesis show that expectations are central parts of human action and that different expectations may result in different kinds of practices. The historical studies show that it is in no way obvious for what purposes artefacts are to be used in educational settings, or who is to decide on this issue.