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 International Journal of Education and Development using ICT > Vol. 5, No. 5 (2009) open journal systems 


Scarce resources: Conflict and sharing in discourse around primary school email use

Nicola Pallitt, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Abstract
This paper discusses email use in a South African primary school. A conversation analysis of children’s interactions around email activities challenges assumptions about the digital divide. This approach suggests the advantage to be gained by viewing the context of children’s use of technology as a shifting set of communicative possibilities, rather than something that is determined solely by the physical presence or absence of computers. The paper describes how children negotiate and communicate around scarce resources in their environment. These scarce and shared resources are not limited to the physical equipment in the computer lab, but include the communicative possibilities offered by software and other individuals. This paper focuses on children sharing email addresses and using email’s affordances of privacy to gain or avoid individual attention from the teacher. Discourse is treated as ‘talk-in-interaction’ and provides evidence of children managing the limited resources available to them.


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International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. ISSN: 1814-0556