Distance learning and mediated communities of praxis doing Covid-19

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Rebekka Kjær Fibiger
This paper seeks to construct insights about how distance learning and mediated presence affect the communities of praxis on a Danish boarding school during the shutdown caused by COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. In the spring of 2020, everything changed. The new virus was spreading with the speed of lightning across the globe. It was quickly classified as a pandemic. Across the world, drastic meas-urements were taken to combat the spread of the virus. The prime minister of Denmark, Mette Fred-eriksen, shut down all public educational institutions in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the vi-rus. This caused that all students across the country had to be taught through distance learning for a while. Denmark has not had a strong culture for distance learning, especially not for children. As a result, there has been a lack of academic research within the field.
I, therefore, wanted to investigate how distance learning and mediated presence affect the communi-ties of praxis that are present on a boarding school when teachers and students are forced to be to-gether at a distance, as well as how digital solutions can help facilitate learning activities. The paper is a sociocultural analysis that takes departure in seven qualitative interviews, with three different teachers, three students, and a school leader all from the same boarding school. Additionally, a Face-book group was observed, and internal communication from the school to teachers was analyzed through document analysis.
In this paper, It was found that distance learning greatly impacts how teachers and students can inter-act with one another on multiple different levels. The student's opportunity to be actively involved and engaged in the learning activities are dependent on the tasks at hand and how the teaching is conducted. The research has shown that mediated presence has been beneficial when working on projects because it allows the students to collaborate in smaller groups without any disturbances.
The paper shows how the school developed its teaching methods during the shutdown, and how me-diated presence through the use of Microsoft Teams allowed teachers to engage with the students in a more motivating fashion. By introducing a mediated presence, the boarding school managed to re-duce the absence rates of students. The shutdown gave teachers time to rethink their didactic de-sign, and thereby enhance the collaboration among teachers on the subject in question. The teachers have, therefore, been able to reflect more on the planning and execution of the teaching. The medi-ated presence causes the usually existing communities of praxis to be present in smaller isolated groups than usual, which does not affect each other to the same degree. The teachers were forced to rethink their methods and develop new methods to deal with the issues. The teachers have become more aware of the didactic choices they are making and how it influences the student's opportunity to participate in the learning activities. The digital format does not allow for much spontaneity, nor continuous adjustments of the teaching design. Digital mediated teaching, therefore, requires teach-ing activities to be planned and designed exemplarily in detail since the social competences of the teachers cannot be used to the same extent when practicing distance learning. Social capabilities have traditionally been one of the core competencies for teachers, but it is a tool that cannot be used to the same extent during mediated teaching.
Publication date31 Aug 2010
Number of pages68
ID: 338215311