Complex people, actions, and contexts
Digital literacies have become central in today's society, used in various personal and public incarnations (Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear, & Leu, 2008), occupying prominent space in social and professional worlds (boyd, 2014; Leu et al., 2011). Despite digital literacies' centrality in society, schools have a notoriously difficult time integrating these into curriculum and instruction (O'Brien & Scharber, 2008). Accordingly, I asked: How do teachers in a large, public comprehensive secondary school navigate the challenges and benefits of digital literacies within the structure of Washington High, the curriculum, and their pedagogy? Using a case study design both ethnographic and collaborative in nature, I examined teachers' beliefs and practices to investigate how digital literacies were being used in the classroom, as well as why. Data included a school-wide survey, participant interviews and observations with six teachers, and informal meetings with school staff, most notably the vice-principal. Data was analyzed through the lens of theories of literacy curricular design (New London Group, 1996) and an eye toward New Literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006). Notable results include the finding that technology at Washington often plays out in fairly traditional, teacher-directed, "wine in new bottles" (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006, p. 55) sorts of ways. However, this study also concludes that why this is so moves far beyond these teachers' individual beliefs and practices. Their contexts (unreliable technology, control of uses imposed by the administration), their cultures (narratives of adolescents needing protection from themselves and others), and compulsory schooling itself (traditional conceptions of time and space, narrow definitions of success, high-stakes testing and teacher evaluations) all play dynamic and complicated parts in how digital literacies get taken up, along with teachers' own beliefs and practices. As such, I draw upon theories of complex personhood (Gordon, 1997) and complexity thinking (Davis & Sumara, 2008) in positing ways digital literacies may be utilized in relationship to schools. Implications address these practices' collaborative, creative potentials to transform schools.