Often great faith is given to the use of digital technologies to facilitate and transform teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools. Especially prominent are such a belief in various policy papers on a wide international level of supranational organizations such as the United Nations, OECD, or the European Union (Egea, 2014; Scheurmann & Pedro, 2009, Bassi, 201; cf. OECD 2015;) as well as at national levels (eg. Akcaoglu, 2015). Policy documents often mention digital technologies in terms of their ability and potential to improve and transform educational activities. Such statements can both be seen as part of a political rhetoric in order to push for change, as well as a belief that such claims are reasonable.
Expressions of the reasonable to include digital technology and the use of IT in schools' activities appear in the various trans-national studies that aim to create a picture of the use of digital technologies in various European countries. Several such studies have been conducted in recent years (cf. OECD, 2015; Fredriksson, Gajek & Jedeskog, 2009; Blamire, 2009). Many of these studies have the aim to create a form of benchmarking process on the use of digital technologies in schools. The rhetoric of how digital technology can transform teaching and learning is also stressed by private operators offering services that in a simple way seems to be able to solve schools' problems with the use of digital technology and related applications (see eg. Grimaldi, 2013).
However, educational contexts are complex and multidimensional. With scarce financial and human resources, teachers and other school staff is to deal with a variety of requirements, goals and expectations that are not always compatible with each other. In addition, a variety of complex relationships and positions as well as norms, traditions and values of what teaching and learning is and should be, and how it ought to take shape. According to Säljö (2010) research focusing the uptake and use of digital technologies in schools are not always clear and seldom indicate success (e.g. Hammond, 2013; Krange & Ludvigsen, 2009). The outcomes are far from straightforward when digital technologies are introduced either in general or in specific subjects or contexts of learning.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze and discuss differences in how digital technology is expected to be used for learning in schools in, on one hand, various policy documents and evaluations, and on the other hand, the use that is reported in research. In that sense, evaluations are seen as evaluations-as-policy, rather than ‘objectice’ search for knowledge.
The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), 23-26 August 2016, Dublin, Ireland.