Shifting pedagogies: Intersections of computer-supported technologies, education, and power

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Sari Knopp Biklen


Pedagogies, Computer-supported technologies, Power

Subject Categories

Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


This dissertation is a multi-sited, qualitative study that questions the traditional power relationships found within the institution of education, analyzes the complexities associated with computer-supported technology integration, and explores how power plays a role in researching new technologies. Central to this research is the position that the process of bringing technology into schools and teachers' work is complex and requires a richer analysis that challenges the belief that computer-supported technologies are either "good" or "bad" for education--a binary that is often embedded within technology integration discourses. I argue that envisioning technology as a lens through which to critically view education can provide opportunities to better understand how people engage with technology through the relationships they build, the struggles they experience, and how power relationships work.

This study focuses on how three high school teachers and some of their students made meaning of integrating new technologies (e.g. Internet, video conferencing, dynamic web pages) into their work and school culture, while part of a research and development project, the Living SchoolBook (LSB). Through interviews, participant observations, and document analyses, this study provides insight into what gets taken-for-granted about technology as teachers and students engaged in what I defined as "dialogic and collaborative" technology projects rather than "typical" technology projects, across on-line and off-line spaces. The three data chapters explore (1) the attraction, accessibility, and barriers associated with teaching when technology was introduced; (2) the emergence of the technological borderlands and the disruption of traditional power relationships that occurred between teachers and students; and (3) how teachers came to rethink their work as authority, control, and trust shifted through the blurring categories of educators and learners.

The school culture where these teachers taught and the flexibility of teachers' pedagogical beliefs and practices were central to their engagement with new technologies. If teachers were willing to make themselves and their classrooms vulnerable to change, uncertainties, and the disruption of power relationships typically held between teachers and students, only then was the potential to seriously engage with technology a real possibility.


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