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Actor-Network Theory (ANT) has enjoyed wide uptake in the social sciences in the past three decades, particularly in science and technology studies, and is increasingly attracting the attention of educational researchers. ANT studies bring to the fore the material – objects of all kinds – and de-centre the human and the social in educational issues. ANT sensibilities are interested in the ways human and non-human elements become interwoven. Since its first introduction, actor-network theory has undergone significant shifts and evolutions and as a result, it is not considered to be a single or coherent theoretical domain, but as developing diversely in response to various challenges.

This book offers an introduction to Actor-Network Theory for educators to consider in three ways. One mode is the introduction of concepts, approaches and debates around Actor-Network Theory as a research approach in education. A second mode showcases educational studies that have employed ANT approaches in classrooms, workplaces and community settings, drawn from the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. These demonstrate how ANT can operate in highly diverse ways whether it focuses on policy critique, curriculum inquiry, engagements with digital media, change and innovation, issues of accountability, or exploring how knowledge unfolds and becomes materialized in various settings. A third mode looks at recent 'after-ANT' inquiries which open an array of important new approaches. Across these diverse environments and uptakes, the authors trace how learning and practice emerge, show what scales are at play, and demonstrate what this means for educational possibilities.

The last fifteen years have seen much conceptual and methodological innovation in research on education and learning across the lifecourse, bringing both fresh insights and new dilemmas. This innovation was initially fuelled by the growing influence of conceptual framings often named as either post-structural or postmodern. The works of Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard have variously found their way into the canons of educational research, and in more recent years, the influence of the work of Deleuze and Guattari has also grown. This work has proved controversial both in the challenges it has raised for the purposes and practices of education and training but also over the assumptions underpinning such work.

As part of and also in response to the influence of post-structuralism and postmodernism in the social sciences, there have emerged and developed a further range of conceptual and methodological framings which are more relational, system and practice-focussed. Several of these framings work with a non-linear understanding of causality and embrace unpredictability in the world and undecidability in our understanding of it. They also challenge any notion of a strong boundary between the social and natural sciences.

This book explores the most significant four of these framings, how they are being taken up in research in education and learning across the lifecourse, as well as their possibilities and limitations:

complexity science

cultural historical activity theory (CHAT)

actor-network theory (ANT)

spatiality theories.

Illustrated throughout with examples drawn from educational contexts across the life courses, including schooling, post-compulsory education and training, educational policy, workplace and community-based education in North America, the UK, and Australia this vital guide to understanding fresh ways of conducting and understanding educational research will prove essential reading for everyone undertaking educational research in the modern world.

Responsibility and professionalism are increasingly issues of concern for professional associations, employers and educators alike. When bad things happen, professionals are often held personally accountable for complex situations. Professional Responsibility and Professionalism advances our approaches to professional responsibility from individual-centred, virtue-based prescriptions towards understanding and responding effectively to the multifaceted challenges encountered today by professionals working in dynamic complexity. The author applies a sociomaterial examination to specific examples drawn from different professional contexts of practice. She examines important implications for what professional responsibility and accountability might mean individually and collectively, and what it might be becoming when demands increasingly conflict, and when we accept that capacities for action are performed into existence in emergent and precarious webs of both human and non-human forces.

The chapters explore some of the most prominent questions in professional responsibility, including:

What does professional responsibility, and accountability, mean in the escalating complexities and conflicts confronting today’s professionals?

How does professional responsibility become developed and enacted, and through what social and material entanglements?

How should responsibility be determined in multi-agency and interprofessional practice?

What happens when professional decisions are delegated to software algorithms and diagnostic instruments?

How are new governing regimes of professional work, such as innovation imperatives, excessive audit and logics of blame and scapegoating, reconfiguring responsibility?

How can professionals respond simultaneously to individuals in need, the obligations of their profession, the demands of their employer and an anxious society?

A major concern addressed by each chapter, and the book as a whole, is educating professionals in and for responsibility. Specific dilemmas and strategies are offered for educators in universities, workplaces and professional development contexts who seek new approaches to helping professionals learn to critically understand and practise responsibility today.

This book will appeal to a wide audience of education researchers and post-graduate students studying professional practice, professionalism and education across a wide range of disciplines. Health professionals, professionals working in private practices, such as law, architecture and engineering, newer professions such as social work and policing, and educational professionals at all levels will find stories and strategies reflecting key issues of their practice in this detailed exploration of professional responsibility and accountability.

The knowledge and decisions of professionals influence all facets of modern life, a fact reflected by the increasing and distinct emphasis on public accountability for what professionals know and do. The nature of this accountability has been fundamentally transformed in response to a changing context of market pressures, network arrangements, declining discretion and public trust, and public managerialism. To tackle these challenges, an important body of research has emerged which concentrates on the material elements and processes of professional learning, and considers how these affect wider society.

This volume presents specific pressures on professionals’ learning in different occupational contexts ranging from public school teaching to medicine and creative industry. These pressures are wrought by changing regulatory frameworks, changing modes of organising, changing demands and changing knowledge authorities in professional practice. The authors stress the importance of understanding these relations as sociomaterial webs through which the important moments of professional action and decisions emerge. This approach moves us beyond accepting ‘learning’ as an identifiable, individualist phenomenon by emphasising the multiplicities around professional practice ‘standards’ and ‘quality’, workarounds, responsibility, agency, and knowledge practices. As the chapters here demonstrate, sociomaterial perspectives raise new questions and methodologies that can highlight what is often invisible in the sometimes messy dynamics of professional learning, and point to new ways of promoting and supporting professional education.

This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Education and Work.

This book presents leading-edge perspectives and methodologies to address emerging issues of concern for professional learning in contemporary society. The conditions for professional practice and learning are changing dramatically in the wake of globalization, new modes of knowledge production, new regulatory regimes, and increased economic-political pressures. In the wake of this, a number of challenges for learning emerge:

more practitioners become involved in interprofessional collaboration

developments in new technologies and virtual workworlds

emergence of transnational knowledge cultures and interrelated circuits of knowledge.

The space and time relations in which professional practice and learning are embedded are becoming more complex, as are the epistemic underpinnings of professional work. Together these shifts bring about intersections of professional knowledge and responsibilities that call for new conceptions of professional knowing.

Exploring what the authors call sociomaterial perspectives on professional learning they argue that theories that trace not just the social but also the material aspects of practice – such as tools, technologies, texts but also bodies and actions - are useful for coming to terms with the challenges described above.

Reconceptualising Professional Learning

develops these issues through specific contemporary cases focused on one of the book’s three main themes: (1) professionals’ knowing in practice, (2) professionals’ work arrangements and technologies, or (3) professional responsibility. Each chapter draws upon innovative theory to highlight the sociomaterial webs through which professional learning may be reconceptualised. Authors are based in Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the USA as well as the UK and their cases are based in a range of professional settings including medicine, teaching, nursing, engineering, social services, the creative industries, and more.

By presenting detailed accounts of these themes from a sociomaterial perspective, the book opens new questions and methodological approaches. These can help make more visible what is often invisible in today’s messy dynamics of professional learning, and point to new ways of configuring educational support and policy for professionals.

This latest volume in the World Yearbook of Education Series focuses on a major and highly significant development in the governing of education across the globe: the use of knowledge-based technologies as key policy sources. A combination of factors has produced this shift: first, the massive expansion of technological capacity signalled by the arrival of ‘big data’ that allows for the collection, circulation and processing of extensive system knowledge. The rise of data has been observed and discussed extensively, but its role in governing and the rise of comparison as a basis for action is now a determining practice in the field of education. Comparison provides the justification for ‘modernising’ policy in education, both in the developed and developing world, as national policy makers (selectively) seek templates of success from the high performers and demand solutions to apparent underperformance through the adoption of the policies favoured by the likes of Singapore, Finland and Korea.

In parallel, the growth of particular forms of expertise: the rise and rise of educational consultancy, the growth of private (for profit) involvement in provision of educational goods and services and the increasing consolidation of networks of influence in the promotion of ‘best practice’ are affecting policy decisions. Through these developments, the nature of knowledge is altered, along with the relationship between knowledge and politics. Knowledge in this context is co-constructed: it is not disciplinary knowledge, but knowledge that emerges in the sharing of experience.

This book provides a global snapshot of a changing educational world by giving detailed examples of a fundamental shift in the governing and practice of education learning by:

• Assessing approaches to the changing nature of comparative knowledge and information

• Tracking the translation and mobilisation of these knowledges in the governing of education/learning;

• Identification of the key experts and knowledge producers/circulators/translators and analysis of how best to understand their influence;

• Mapping of the global production of these knowledges in terms of their range and reach the interrelationships of actors and their effects in different national settings.

Drawing on material from around the world, the book brings together scholars from different backgrounds who provide a tapestry of examples of the global production and national reception and mediation of these knowledges and who show how change enters different national spaces and consider their effects in different national settings.

This book joins a developing tradition of ‘practice-based’ conceptions of learning, but with a special interest in foregrounding the materiality of educational processes. It challenges educational views that are preoccupied with developing a particular kind of human subject, and argues that relations among materials – including texts and technologies, embodiment, tools and natural forces - are key to understanding how learning and knowing emerge in collective activity.

To critically examine materiality, the chapter authors draw from orientations associated with actor-network theory, but push forward these conceptions to create an important in-between place of inquiry in sociomaterial/STS studies and education. Most express concerns about visions of education that emphasise output driven learning, performativity, standardisation and representationalist forms of knowledge. They use sociomaterial approaches to make visible the everyday, particular micro-dynamics of education and learning. Their analyses reveal that power relations and the politics that infuse pedagogy are by no means confined to human interests and ideologies, but are created and sustained through materialising processes that are enmeshed with the social and semiotic. Ultimately, these sociomaterial analyses open new directions and vocabularies for reconceptualising what is taken to be pedagogy, where and how pedagogical processes occur, and what effects they have on culture and society.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Pedagogy, Culture & Society.

How can educational research have more impact? What processes of knowledge exchange are most effective for increasing the uses of research results? How can research-produced knowledge be better ‘mobilized’ among users such as practicing educators, policy makers, and the public communities?

These sorts of questions are commanding urgent attention in educational discourses and research policies now circulating around the world. This attention has been translated into powerful material exercises that shape what is considered to be worthwhile research and how research is funded, recognized, and assessed. Yet precisely what activities constitute effective knowledge mobilization, or even what is meant by ‘moving knowledge’, remains unclear. What politics are at play in determining knowledge ‘impact’ across radically different contexts? Who determines what counts as impact, and for what purposes? How are ‘results’ of educational research separated from its participants and processes? In addition knowledge mobilization also invokes debates about the languages through which knowledge is constructed, policy processes are enacted, and research unfolds.

This volume is unique in bringing together these wide-ranging issues of knowledge mobilization in education. The volume editors critically analyse these complex issues and also describe various efforts of knowledge mobilization and their effects. While the contributors themselves speak from diverse material, occupational and theoretical locations. Leading scholars in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia bring disciplinary perspectives from law, digital media studies, museum studies, journalism and policy-making as well as fields of education. Some speak from Anglo-‘Western’ perspectives but others such as Phan Le Ha (Vietnamese), Rui Yang (Chinese) and Dolores van der Wey (Haida/West Coat Salish First Nations) speak from Asian, Indigenous and diasporic locations.

This book joins a developing tradition of ‘practice-based’ conceptions of learning, but with a special interest in foregrounding the materiality of educational processes. It challenges educational views that are preoccupied with developing a particular kind of human subject, and argues that relations among materials – including texts and technologies, embodiment, tools and natural forces - are key to understanding how learning and knowing emerge in collective activity.

To critically examine materiality, the chapter authors draw from orientations associated with actor-network theory, but push forward these conceptions to create an important in-between place of inquiry in sociomaterial/STS studies and education. Most express concerns about visions of education that emphasise output driven learning, performativity, standardisation and representationalist forms of knowledge. They use sociomaterial approaches to make visible the everyday, particular micro-dynamics of education and learning. Their analyses reveal that power relations and the politics that infuse pedagogy are by no means confined to human interests and ideologies, but are created and sustained through materialising processes that are enmeshed with the social and semiotic. Ultimately, these sociomaterial analyses open new directions and vocabularies for reconceptualising what is taken to be pedagogy, where and how pedagogical processes occur, and what effects they have on culture and society.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Pedagogy, Culture & Society.

Responsibility and professionalism are increasingly issues of concern for professional associations, employers and educators alike. When bad things happen, professionals are often held personally accountable for complex situations. Professional Responsibility and Professionalism advances our approaches to professional responsibility from individual-centred, virtue-based prescriptions towards understanding and responding effectively to the multifaceted challenges encountered today by professionals working in dynamic complexity. The author applies a sociomaterial examination to specific examples drawn from different professional contexts of practice. She examines important implications for what professional responsibility and accountability might mean individually and collectively, and what it might be becoming when demands increasingly conflict, and when we accept that capacities for action are performed into existence in emergent and precarious webs of both human and non-human forces.

The chapters explore some of the most prominent questions in professional responsibility, including:

What does professional responsibility, and accountability, mean in the escalating complexities and conflicts confronting today’s professionals?

How does professional responsibility become developed and enacted, and through what social and material entanglements?

How should responsibility be determined in multi-agency and interprofessional practice?

What happens when professional decisions are delegated to software algorithms and diagnostic instruments?

How are new governing regimes of professional work, such as innovation imperatives, excessive audit and logics of blame and scapegoating, reconfiguring responsibility?

How can professionals respond simultaneously to individuals in need, the obligations of their profession, the demands of their employer and an anxious society?

A major concern addressed by each chapter, and the book as a whole, is educating professionals in and for responsibility. Specific dilemmas and strategies are offered for educators in universities, workplaces and professional development contexts who seek new approaches to helping professionals learn to critically understand and practise responsibility today.

This book will appeal to a wide audience of education researchers and post-graduate students studying professional practice, professionalism and education across a wide range of disciplines. Health professionals, professionals working in private practices, such as law, architecture and engineering, newer professions such as social work and policing, and educational professionals at all levels will find stories and strategies reflecting key issues of their practice in this detailed exploration of professional responsibility and accountability.

The knowledge and decisions of professionals influence all facets of modern life, a fact reflected by the increasing and distinct emphasis on public accountability for what professionals know and do. The nature of this accountability has been fundamentally transformed in response to a changing context of market pressures, network arrangements, declining discretion and public trust, and public managerialism. To tackle these challenges, an important body of research has emerged which concentrates on the material elements and processes of professional learning, and considers how these affect wider society.

This volume presents specific pressures on professionals’ learning in different occupational contexts ranging from public school teaching to medicine and creative industry. These pressures are wrought by changing regulatory frameworks, changing modes of organising, changing demands and changing knowledge authorities in professional practice. The authors stress the importance of understanding these relations as sociomaterial webs through which the important moments of professional action and decisions emerge. This approach moves us beyond accepting ‘learning’ as an identifiable, individualist phenomenon by emphasising the multiplicities around professional practice ‘standards’ and ‘quality’, workarounds, responsibility, agency, and knowledge practices. As the chapters here demonstrate, sociomaterial perspectives raise new questions and methodologies that can highlight what is often invisible in the sometimes messy dynamics of professional learning, and point to new ways of promoting and supporting professional education.

This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Education and Work.

This book presents leading-edge perspectives and methodologies to address emerging issues of concern for professional learning in contemporary society. The conditions for professional practice and learning are changing dramatically in the wake of globalization, new modes of knowledge production, new regulatory regimes, and increased economic-political pressures. In the wake of this, a number of challenges for learning emerge:

more practitioners become involved in interprofessional collaboration

developments in new technologies and virtual workworlds

emergence of transnational knowledge cultures and interrelated circuits of knowledge.

The space and time relations in which professional practice and learning are embedded are becoming more complex, as are the epistemic underpinnings of professional work. Together these shifts bring about intersections of professional knowledge and responsibilities that call for new conceptions of professional knowing.

Exploring what the authors call sociomaterial perspectives on professional learning they argue that theories that trace not just the social but also the material aspects of practice – such as tools, technologies, texts but also bodies and actions - are useful for coming to terms with the challenges described above.

Reconceptualising Professional Learning

develops these issues through specific contemporary cases focused on one of the book’s three main themes: (1) professionals’ knowing in practice, (2) professionals’ work arrangements and technologies, or (3) professional responsibility. Each chapter draws upon innovative theory to highlight the sociomaterial webs through which professional learning may be reconceptualised. Authors are based in Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the USA as well as the UK and their cases are based in a range of professional settings including medicine, teaching, nursing, engineering, social services, the creative industries, and more.

By presenting detailed accounts of these themes from a sociomaterial perspective, the book opens new questions and methodological approaches. These can help make more visible what is often invisible in today’s messy dynamics of professional learning, and point to new ways of configuring educational support and policy for professionals.

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