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New technologies, knowledge, networks and communities in home-education

Fensham-Smith, Amber 2017. New technologies, knowledge, networks and communities in home-education. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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A promising, yet relatively small, body of academic scholarship on UK home-education has emerged in recent years. However, it persists as an area of research marked by partisanship. The digital age is often heralded as an era of liberation; empowering disparate groups to network, exchange practice, and learn from one another. However, few have considered what this might mean for home-education. This study sought to answer the overdue call for research in this area. This thesis is a mixed methods study; based on an online survey of 242 home-educators and 52 individual and group interviews with 85 parents, children and young people who used a range of new technologies. These families resided in different localities across England, Wales and Scotland. The analyses explored the role of new technologies, knowledge and learning within the themes of community, pedagogy and identity. The findings indicated that home-educating families participate in a diverse landscape of online networks and offline communities. New technologies have been effective in mobilising support at times of ‘threat’. It was also found that participation in this landscape has given new home-educators access to resources and confidence in their practice. The use of these resources and networks over time suggests a pedagogical journey that strengthens the transmission of values and production of identity, as learners get older. It concluded that home-education invites ideological conflict and internal struggle and that the appropriation of new technologies has both freed families from the old structures of school and placed them into new ones. This study sheds light on how some learning communities are transforming and being transformed by the tools used to reach an alternative destination in education. For home-education, the mixed role of new technologies surfaces a series of unresolved tensions, paradoxes and unanswered questions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 11:10

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