Left to their own devices: The everyday realities of ‘one-to-one’ classrooms

Neil Selwyn, Selena Nemorin, Scott Anthony Bulfin, Nicola Frances Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    The past decade has seen the expansion of personal digital technologies into schools. With many students and teachers now possessing smartphones, tablets, and laptops, schools are initiating one-to-one and ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies aiming to make use of these ‘personal devices’ in classrooms. While often discussed in terms of possible educational benefits and/or organisational risks, the actual presence of personal devices in schools tends to be more mundane in nature and effect. Drawing upon ethnographic studies of three Australian high schools, this paper details ways in which the proliferation of digital devices has come to bear upon everyday experiences of school. In particular, the paper highlights the ways in which staff and students negotiate (in)appropriate technology engagement; the ordinary (rather than extraordinary) ways that students make use of their devices in classrooms; and the device-related tensions now beginning to arise in schools. Rather than constituting a radically ‘transformational’ form of schooling, the paper considers how the heightened presence of personal technologies is becoming subsumed into existing micro-politics of school organisation and control.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)289-310
    Number of pages22
    JournalOxford Review of Education
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017


    • BYOD
    • classroom
    • computer
    • digital
    • ethnography
    • iPad
    • laptop
    • School
    • smartphone
    • student

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