In this fourth issue of the Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy of 2017, we present three articles that provide valuable contributions to the current discourse on digital technologies in education.
In the article ‘Informal use of social media in higher education: A case study of Facebook groups’, Adalberon and Säljö investigate student’s self-organized arenas for discussions. Activity in four Facebook groups, organized around campus-based courses, is analysed with respect to content and patterns of interaction. One central interest for the authors is to establish if such groups might be an arena for ‘backstage’ activities, where matters are raised differently than they would in class. The study concludes that this particular use of social media was mainly for sharing practical information and small talk amongst the students.
The second article in this issue of NJDL, ‘What’s in a wiki? Issues of agency in light of student teachers’ encounters with wiki technology’ by Brox, is concerned with student teachers’ technology use in organised academic activity. The study explores use of technology that might benefit the student teachers in other ways than just as a tool for improving traditional learning outcomes. By using a wiki in a collaborative writing project, the student teachers encountered technology that seemed to have agency in shaping both process and product, more than just being a tool for performing the tasks at hand. The author suggests that by arranging pedagogical settings that acknowledges the value of technological experimentation, teacher educators can give student teachers opportunities to explore both human and technological agency and develop a deeper understanding of technology in an educational context.
Dahlström and Boström examine the impact of three different conditions for writing in the article ‘Pros and cons: Handwriting versus digital writing’. In a small-scale study, they compare middle-school students’ creation of narrative texts using pen and paper, tablet, and tablet with access to speech synthesis. The analysis show differences within the dimensions of vocabulary and grammar (language accuracy), text length, text structure, and abundance of material processes. Moreover, the impact of writing digitally was stronger for those students who has Swedish as their second language.
The articles presented in this issue informs us on how digital technology can benefit different student groups in different ways, how thoughtful pedagogical designs can help develop teacher students’ professional digital competence, and how university students make use of self-initiated Facebook groups. We hope that these texts will inspire and encourage both researchers and practitioners to further explore the many facets of technology use in schools and higher education.