Searching for delegated knowledge in elementary schools

Hanna Carlsson, Olof Sundin

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Introduction. In contemporary society increased access to and dependence on digital technology has produced richer possibilities for outsourcing memory to external systems, an issue that becomes especially tangible in educational settings. The aim of this paper is to make visible how the changing relations between searching for and memorizing information is formed in the context of elementary schools, from the perspective of teachers.
Method. Six focus groups were conducted with Swedish elementary school teachers during the fall of 2014. In total 39 teachers from four different compulsory schools participated in the study.
Analysis. The empirical material was analysed from a sociomaterial perspective, particularly informed by Actor-Network-Theory. Technology is here not perceived as a tool to be mastered for different purposes but as an actor actively taking part in the co-construction of educational practices.
Results. The study points to three important consequences of the changing relations between searching for and memorizing information in elementary schools: memorizing is to an increasing degree replaced by different activities related to “facts”; although more sophisticated cognitive labour is being outsourced to digital technology, analytical capability is still perceived as something particular to the human mind. As a consequence, analytical capability stood out as the most important criterion considered by the teachers when assessing their pupils’ performances.
Conclusion. The analysis shows how external memory systems are not merely tools for pupils and teachers to make use of. These systems are also actors that co-shape requirements on pupils’ capacities and performances in contemporary schooling.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventInformation Seeking in Context: The Information Behavior Conference - University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia
Duration: 2016 Sept 202016 Sept 23

Bibliographical note

Published in Proceedings of ISIC, the Information Behaviour Conference, Zadar, Croatia, 20-23 September, 2016: Part 2. Information Research, 22(1)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Information Studies

Free keywords

  • Information-searching
  • cognitive outsourcing
  • information literacies
  • information practices
  • memorizing
  • sociomateriality
  • focus groups
  • actor-network-theory


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