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From student academic to computer specialist: co-construction of student identity and a school computer-network Ojelel, Alfred

Abstract

This study explores how student participation in the development of a school computer-network (SCN) motivated students to learn and promoted service and collegial relationships in the school. Students participated in a Technology Leadership (TL) community and engaged in activities that were central to the development of the SCN. The research examines the co-evolution of the SCN and student activities and the relationships between TL students and the school. In the study, data on students' experiences in the TL program came from non-participant observation, conversations, semi-structured interviews and document analyses. Using a sociocultural perspective of identity construction and informed by Lave and Wenger's notion of participation in a community-of-practice, with actor-network approaches, the analysis of the data showed that student level of engagement increased when the activities were relevant to their in-school and out-of-school technology experiences, or to their future career goals. Program participants provided technical support to the SCN and taught what teachers and students wanted to learn at a time when they needed to know it. In so doing, these leadership students moved towards greater technical expertise, improved interpersonal skills and increased leadership responsibilities as demonstrated by the availability of improved technical support services in the SCN. As newcomers to the TL community gradually advanced to full participation and old-timers became computer consultants to the school before they eventually graduated, the TL community was subjected to a continual process of renewal in terms of participants. With progressive student participation and with translations of diverse technology actors, the services the SCN provided to the school improved. Over time, the SCN's technical character changed and the relationships of service and collegiality between TL students and the school were enhanced. Thus, both participants and the school realized educational value. The implication for curriculum and pedagogy of discipline-based courses is that if students are to be attracted to school initiatives and retained, the curriculum and its delivery need to increase opportunities for students' changed relationships with the school community to take place, and for student participation in a relevant community-of-practice that is responsive to students' future aspirations.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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