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Risky Opportunities: Developing Children’s Resilience through Digital Literacy in Thailand

This project develops a case for defining appropriate concepts of risk and opportunity in the digital domain for children in Thailand; it explores what the consequent balance is between, regulation/policing of this domain on the one hand, and active user empowerment on the other. It defines “digital literacy”, in a way that is appropriate for Thai society, while bearing in mind international good practice. This is achieved on the basis of detailed, in-depth fieldwork in Thai schools, using an Action Research methodology. The Participatory Action Research framework for this study positions children as subjects who have their own power and competence to influence the study, and ultimately the development of digital literacy education. By using three schools, in two stages of fieldwork, the theorization of digital literacy is thoroughly grounded in a comparative study of different practices. At the centre of this method is the development of a classroom “module” – a set of learning activities designed as both a research tool and a practical intervention in the pedagogical process. My study argues that the contest around the notion of the ‘good child’ has shaped children’s experiences of online use, in Thai society. In the offline world, the digital literacy classroom practice has been dominated by singular ideologies (a restricted code) around both the seniority value embedded in Thai society and neo-liberal prescriptions for developing ‘citizens for the 21st century’. So the piloted digital literacy module was neither successful nor unsuccessful, in itself, for “promoting” an enhancement of digital literacy because, in the end, it exposed a flaw in this way of thinking about education. In such complex situations, no set of teaching and learning tools can be separated from the codes and hidden curricula that determine their effectiveness. In the online world, many Thai children regularly take responsible risks, and build resilience for themselves. Digital literacy education needs to be transformed to liberate children from overly rigid, and risk-adverse, classroom practice, thus contributing to the development of ‘grown-up-ness’ in Biesta’s term (2013) which, in turn, contributes to the ‘formation’ of the person. Therefore, the desirability of building digital resiliency has emerged from this project as a better way of thinking, where resiliency is a complex capacity to respond openly, within situations where risks and opportunities may be interwoven, and these situations may include the classroom itself, as well as personal, familial, and other social spaces and situations.
Type of thesis
Kaewseenual, S. (2018). Risky Opportunities: Developing Children’s Resilience through Digital Literacy in Thailand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11712
The University of Waikato
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