Focal digital devices and meaning in digital education: an ethnographic study of Ghanaian schools

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Although extant research has addressed the importance of focal things and practices, as well as human values when engaging with digital technologies, a lot remains to be understood about the role of digital focal things in digital education. The paper argues that while Albert Borgmann understood digital devices as objects that render meaningless engagement, based on an ethnographic study of junior high schools in the Central region of Ghana, digital focal things can indeed invite meaningful learning experiences in digital education. However, despite positive gains there are also other aspects to this media ecology that raise tensions such as the trading and selling of student information and students becoming surveillance commodities. This paper begins with an overview of Borgmann’s philosophy, followed by an outline of methods and then moves to an analysis of digital focal things in the context of junior high schools in Ghana. The paper ends with concluding remarks.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalE-Learning and Digital Media
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Albert borgmann
  • digital education
  • digital literacy
  • ethnography

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