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Watching Our Children Electronically: A (Post)phenomenology of Classroom Management Software in Schools

  • Author / Creator
    Boger, Tracy
  • This postphenomenological study is a timely investigation into the hidden curriculum of surveillance technology in schools. Drawing on literature from the fields of Surveillance Studies, Education, and Philosophy of Technology the purpose of this inquiry is to expose the hidden curricula of electronic surveillance technology in schools and to bring to light the new ethical demands and responsibilities that come with it. In the unveiling of surveillance technology’s hidden curricula the intent is not to draw attention to the technology itself, but rather the world which is convened through the technology. This study is also concerned with uncovering the beliefs and values that are built into surveillance technology and examining what this says about the about the purpose of education, the role of the teacher in the classroom, and the shape and significance of tomorrow’s learning environments for students. As such this work challenges the inherent values of the instrumental mindset which are displacing a pedagogical and moral orientation by prioritizing the values of control, efficiency, and conformity over other important values such as care, trust, autonomy, and critical thinking.

    Drawing on the phenomenological research methods of Max van Manen's (2014) “phenomenology of practice” and Adams and Turville’s “postphenomenology of practice” (forthcoming 2018) this study is predominately based on the analysis of hermeneutic phenomenological interviews of teachers and students who have experienced and used classroom management software. By attending to the peculiarities of human-(surveillance)technology-world relations and the amplification and reduction structures that come with it, this study draws attention to the many ways in which surveillance technology may alter the ways in which we perceive and engage with the world. This includes the ways in which the relational, situational, and affective dimensions of pedagogy are altered every time a teacher solves a problem by grabbing for a mouse rather than directly dealing with the conflict or problem at hand. In this way this study reveals how surveillance technology not only shapes how teachers and students perceive and interact with the world, it also has the potential to shape a teacher’s way of being in the classroom.
    This study is important not only because it raises important questions about how and why surveillance technology is used to watch over youth; it is also important for bringing both Philosophy of Technology and Surveillance Studies research into the field of education. This inquiry is a departure from the traditional concerns of the field of educational technology in that it offers new and critical perspectives on the numerous unintended consequences of using surveillance technology to watch over youth. Importantly this study draws attention to the many unexpected ways in which these tools silently but forcefully form inclinations within which new dominant pedagogical practices and routines emerge. The intent is not the abandonment of these tools, but rather to consider the ways in which we can live with these tools in ways that minimize the negative impact of the unintended consequences of these tools. By alerting teachers to the ways in which surveillance technology selectively extends and constrains what teachers see of their students, this may provoke a deeper understanding of how everyday interactions with surveillance technology may shape and alter the pedagogical choices made by teachers in the classroom. Most importantly, this inquiry calls on us to reconsider how and why we use surveillance technology to watch over youth and to reflect upon our ethical priorities to ensure that it is the care of the child that is at the center of surveillance practices.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3PC2TR4B
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.