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Learning to teach in the digital age: New materialities and maker paradigms in schools

Announcing the publication of a new work by faculty member Sean Justice

book cover

Learning to Teach in the Digital Age tells the story of a group of K-12 teachers as they began to connect with digital making and learning pedagogies. Guiding questions at the heart of this qualitative case study asked how teaching practices engaged with and responded to the maker movement and digital making and learning tools and materials. Over the course of one school year, Sean Justice attended to the ebb and flow of teaching and learning at an independent K-12 girls school the Northeastern United States. Twenty-two teachers and administrators from across grade levels and academic domains—from 2nd grade to high school, and from art and history to the sciences—participated in interviews and casual conversations in lunchrooms, hallways and stairwells, in addition to opening their classrooms to ad hoc observations. In conducting the study, Justice interwove a sociomaterial disposition with new materialism, posthumanism and new media theory. Methods were inspired by narrative inquiry and actor-network theory. Findings suggested that digital making and learning pedagogies were stabilizing at the school, but not in a linear way. Further, Justice suggests that the teaching practices that most engaged the ethos of 21st century learning enacted a kind of learning we hear about from artists, writers, scientists and mathematicians when they talk about what innovation feels like, leading to the proposition that a different kind of language is needed to describe the effects of digital materialities on teaching practice.

Sean Justice, EdD, MFA, joined the School of Art and Design this year as an assistant professor of Art Education. Sean’s teaching and research addresses teacher education in the age of digital networks, the maker movement, and Material Inquiry pedagogy. He holds a doctorate in Art and Art Education from Columbia University, Teachers College, where he taught digital fabrication, physical computing, creative coding, and photography, to pre- and in-service teachers from across the curriculum. While at TC he designed and then directed the Myers Media Art Studio, a center for exploratory art and technology research and education that focused on the materiality of media art. Prior to TC he taught art, writing and technology at high schools, art schools and universities, primarily concentrating on photography and fine art printing at Parsons, New York University, and the International Center of Photography. As an artist he has exhibited photographs, videos and computer animations both nationally and internationally.