Volume 9 [Issue 2], 2017


Learner antecedents of youth’s beliefs about agency and online learning

Thomas Arnesen, Eyvind Elstad, Knut-Andreas Christophersen


Developing students’ digital skills and self-confidence in their ability to purposefully use online learning opportunities is considered important for achieving educational objectives. This study empirically explores antecedents of young people’s beliefs about agency in online learning by applying structural equation modeling to a sample of 3400 Nordic youth age 15–17. The targeted antecedents are young people’s preferences for either net-induced self-determination of learning aims, content, and processes (online culture) or institutionalized schooling as they currently experience it (school culture). We find that both factors are positively related to digital agency, but that the relationship between online culture and school culture is strongly antagonistic. Furthermore, online time in class is positively related to online culture but negatively related to school culture. We argue that formal schooling’s efforts to capitalize on students’ informal learning experiences through introducing more net-based activities in class might bolster digital agency through improved technical expertise (medium-related online skills), while simultaneously deprivilege institutionalized schooling and the acquisition of the substantial knowledge required for the development of content-related online skills. Students’ preference constructions and beliefs regarding formal and informal learning processes are particularly significant if we are to facilitate educationally desirable synergy effects and avoid troubling inconsistencies

Doubt in digital education: Critical thinking in the age of Trump

Robert Nelson


Based on a taxonomy that includes discourse and ideology as well as logic and truth, this article identifies doubt as the element most critical to critical thinking. Not only is doubt intrinsic to questioning but it has a dynamic relationship to purposeful thinking. Despite its heightened relevance in an age when the separation of truth and falsehood is deliberately blurred in media, doubt is not sufficiently recognized in scholarly literature on critical thinking and is also not favoured by contemporary syllabus design. Using philological methods, the article reveals that doubt has been handled imaginatively and positively throughout the history of ideas; and its relative marginalization in pedagogy is a historical anomaly, aligning only with the early days of Christianity. The article argues that if critical thinking is taught without doubt, the syllabus is structurally hostile to critical thinking

Figured worlds’ and the construction of positive learner identities through digital technologies outside of school

Heather Brown


Young adolescents are highly engaged in literacy practices involving the use of digital technologies, both inside and outside of school. This study examines how the out-of-school use of digital technologies creates spaces in which young adolescents construct and negotiate positive learner identities. Through vignettes of four young adolescents, this research uses the conceptual framework of ‘figured worlds’ (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner and Cain, 1998), to develop an understanding of the construction of learner identities through out-of-school use of digital technologies. The discussions of the participants reveal ‘figured worlds’ of friendship, homework and soccer that transcend the traditional boundaries of the real and the virtual, revealing a connected and dynamic concept of space. Within these worlds, the young adolescents move in and out of learner and teacher roles when necessary to learn or advance their skills, and in doing this, are developing self-understandings and conveying these understandings as performances within a figured world. This study argues that the learner identities are constructed and negotiated by the young adolescents are strong, positive and to varying extents self-crafted.