'Google Speak': The discursive practices of search in home-education

Main Article Content

Renee Morrison


Learning with technology is increasingly understood to be a social process involving unique and telling discourses. An emerging research agenda has resulted, investigating the links between ‘talk’ and student technological practices but is yet to include home-education. Preliminary evidence exists of a relationship between particular types of ‘talk’ and success with particular online activities, namely online search. This may prove especially pertinent to home-educators who report that their most prolific online activities are those reliant upon search engines like Google. This paper presents select findings from a study into online search and the associated discursive practices among early primary students and their parent-educators in Australia. Data from observations, tests and interviews with five home-educating families were analysed recursively using a system guided by Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis.  Specifically, this paper seeks to investigate: which discursive practices are privileged in these sites during online search; the extent to which these practices contribute to relations of power and the extent to which these practices are found alongside effective online search.  Findings revealed a prevalence of inequitable discursive practices, those that either inhibited the equal conversational power of speakers or which naturalised inequitable power relations more generally. These discursive practices were found alongside ineffective online searches. Notwithstanding, participants continued to speak positively about search engines and their educational power. This rhetoric-reality gap is theorized in the paper as the work of dominant ideologies surrounding technology in education.  Findings can assist the growing number of home-educators and their students to use online search more effectively. Insights regarding links between discursive practice and search practice may also help ensure that discourse helps to maximise the educational benefits associated with online search.

Article Details

How to Cite
Morrison, R. (2022). ’Google Speak’: The discursive practices of search in home-education . Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 10, DT82-DT106. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2022.387
Special Issue: Digital technologies supporting dialogical education
Author Biography

Renee Morrison, School of Education (Queensland), Australian Catholic University, Australia

Renee Morrison’s research focuses on technology and the capacity to assist educators and students reach their full potential in the 21st century. Her research profile also investigates the changing role of teachers today, including those in alternative systems (home-education), and highlights the relationship between ICT use and effective pedagogies. Specifically (but not exclusively) Renee’s work considers how search engines like Google are being used in educational environments and how they may be better used to enhance educational outcomes. A focus on ‘Generational Digital Divide’ rhetoric and upon ensuring discourse is used as a resource, rather than an obstacle for pedagogies is also present in her research. Renee is interested in challenging asymmetries in power and knowledge as manifested in discourse and in contributing knowledge which may serve to question pervading ideologies surrounding today’s students and educators. She has experience in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies; particularly Critical Discourse Analysis and semiotics. Previously Renee’s research has employed Gramsci’s concept of Hegemony and Cohen’s Moral Panic.


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