Digital Technology in Education: Towards New Inclusive Practices

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Over the last two decades, digital technology has led to new ways to interact and communicate. This bring change to society and so also to daily practices in education. This research addresses some of these changes by investigating digital technology’s impact on participation and the potential for new inclusive practices.

The main theoretical argument derives from the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu argues that we act upon the world with our habitus, i.e. dispositions created due to previous experiences working as a matrix of perceptions, assumptions and actions. The habitus is used in the field to engage in struggles for symbolic capital and, thus, provides better opportunities for those whose habitus matches the particular field. In this research, the education facilities are considered social fields, where particular people have better opportunities than others. Using Bourdieu’s theoretical framework, it becomes possible to explain how children and people with learning disabilities are able to strengthen their position by the use of digital technology. This theoretical framework is enhanced by theories of empowerment as any improvement in the participation and decision-making power, hold the potential to change opportunity structures in an inclusive direction .

Research was carried out in kindergartens and special education facilities in Denmark. Building upon design-based research, the research aimed at testing and developing approaches to digital technology in education in cooperation with practice. The processes were analyzed by the use of video filming and observations. In addition, interviews were carried out with children, people with learning disabilities and pedagogues in order to grasp digital technology’s impact on play and learning (kindergartens) and as a tool for communication (special education).

Findings show that digital technology (a) impacts practice in kindergartens and special education facilities and (b) does so by enabling children and people with learning disabilities to explore new ways to engage with each other and with the pedagogues. By way of example, the paper shows how digital technology works as a catalyst for shy and quiet children’s voices. It shows how digital technology opens up for new ways to play and learn and how this impacts some children’s possibilities for participation. Additionally, the paper shows how digital technology works as a tool of communication in special education by aiding people with learning disabilities in expressing thoughts and feelings about everyday life as well as wishes for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date23 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017
EventNordic Educational Research Association 45th Congress: - Learning and education – material conditions and consequences - Aalborg Universitet, København, København, Denmark
Duration: 23 Mar 201725 Mar 2017
Conference number: 45


ConferenceNordic Educational Research Association 45th Congress
LocationAalborg Universitet, København
Internet address


  • learning, educational science and teaching

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