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Morphologies of knowing: Fractal methods for re-thinking classroom technology practices

posted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Julianne LynchJulianne Lynch, Joanne O'MaraJoanne O'Mara
This chapter is inspired by an ontology of fractals and the onto-epistemological sensibilities of the writing of Benoit Mandelbrot. Stimulated by resonances between the ontologies of practice theory and characteristics of fractal geometry, we provide an introduction to three fractal concepts—similarity across scales, fractional dimensionality and infinite length—that might be used to think about classroom technology practices as ‘fractal like’ and to support new approaches to working with and reporting classroom data. The introduction of widespread digital technology usage in primary schools is relatively new, and much of the research has focused on the provision of technology rather than social practices of curriculum enactment. We argue that new methods are needed to move beyond technocentric approaches to research and to sensitise educators to the new materialities of digital technology practices. Drawing on data generated during a study of technology practices in primary school literacy education, we use fractal concepts to experiment with approaches to moving from data to an account of that data. We argue that fractal geometry’s characterisation of complexity as patterned irregularity offers a potentially useful tool for thinking more expansively about technology practices than is seen in dominant research paradigms, and that the pragmatism of fractal geometry is instructive in our own foregrounding of the epistemological challenges of producing accounts of technology practices.


Title of book

Practice methodologies in education research

Chapter number



166 - 186


Taylor & Francis

Place of publication

London, ENg.





Publication classification

B1 Book chapter




Julianne Lynch, Julie Rowlands, Trevor Gale, Stephen Parker