Agency and digital tools

By Kathrin Otrel-Cass

Children, teachers and the materials they access and use shape the environment they inhabit

 (such as classrooms and or online spaces). Materials that are utilised may be digital or analog, they may be emergent (produced

 along the way) or artefacts used and brought into the classroom but it is only in the coming together of the different parts that we can identify agency in the classroom. This makes agency a phenomenon that has co-occurrant qualities. It means that it is not children on their own who have (or do not have) agency but rather, they enact agency with the materials they can access, use, shape and are shaped by.

A shared padlet is shaped by the input of different children’s ideas and each child’s input is shaping what subsequent posts are left. The platform is public and open to view for all but accessed by individuel children through their own laptops, in their own space. The padlet brainstorm is prompted by an initial question coming from the teacher. It is through this complex series of interchanges that children also learn about the effects of agency, including also how to have control or take an initiative.

Academic resources and background material

Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press.

Ingold, T. (2005). Epilogue: Towards a politics of dwelling. Conservation and Society, 3(2), 501.

Kumpulainen, K., Krokfors, L., Lipponen, L., Tissari, V., Hilppö, J., & Rajala, A. (2009). Learning bridges–Toward participatory learning environments.

Tabak, I. (2004). Synergy: A complement to emerging patterns of distributed scaffolding. The journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(3), 305-335.