Details of the method tracing teachers’ perceptions on educational activities’ and digitally mediated school spaces’ entanglement

To be cited as: Sarkio K., Korhonen T., & Hakkarainen K. (2022). Tracing teachers’ perceptions on digitally mediated educational activities’ and learning environments’ entanglement: A practice-oriented methodLearning Environments Research, Online 24 November 2022.

We developed (Sarkio et al., 2022) a methodological framework for tracing sociomaterial entanglement to explore the entanglement of school spaces, digital instruments, and teachers’ pedagogical activities, which implementation details are present.  The novel method exposes school spaces’ correspondence to educational needs from teachers’ perspective, which consolidates on the design of learning environments that are suitable for educational activities.

The method creates visualized knowledge as radar charts that serve as an input to

  • multidisciplinary stakeholders to design learning environments from educational activities point of view. The knowledge is created in visual and human interpretable format for input to the multidisciplinary stakeholders that collaborate in designing learning environments and need to understand the digitally mediated socio-pedagogic activities occurring in school spaces.
  • educational leaders to identify the cultivation needs in a school’s operational culture to direct support for those socio-pedagogic activities that should be strengthened in achieving the educational transformation process to take full benefit of innovative learning environments (ILEs) when occupied. The created visualizations disclose cultivation needs in a school’s operational culture to transform toward collaborative learning-centricity.

The following details for implementing the methodological framework rely on


Teachers’ Activities and School Spaces Inventory (TASSI)

We created the TASSI inventory (Table 1) to trace the sociomaterial entanglement of general upper secondary school teachers’ socio-pedagogic activities and ways of using school spaces. In TASSI teachers evaluate the introduced claims on 1-7 Likert scales, and it may be implemented on any regular online questionnaire tool.

Table 1 TASSI

Socio-pedagogic activity Spaces from the point of view of the school’s socio-pedagogic activities
Claim on spaces related to activities of school’s operating culture overall. Claim on spaces related to teacher’s own pedagogical activities.
Category Subordinate Evaluation: Importance from the perspective of the overall school culture (1 = Not at all important – 7 = Very important). Evaluation: Importance from the perspective of achieving teacher’s own pedagogic goals (1 = Not at all important – 7 = Very important). Evaluation: How often was the statement true (usage) during the last school year (1 = never, 2 = few times a year, 3 = once a month, 4 = few times per month, 5 = once a week, 6 = few times per week, 7 = daily).
Community and communal learning Communal knowledge building and sharing The new premises have an open and easily accessible flexible multifunctional space that encourages doing and experimenting together. In my teaching, I make versatile use of the school’s open multifunctional spaces as a learning environment.
Social skills, interactions, and encounters The new premises support social interactions and occasional daily encounters (e.g., sofa groups) and functional elements (e.g., a ping pong table). I intentionally use the school’s common areas to increase social interactions during the school day.
Teacher collaboration The new premises support courses implemented by teacher collaboration (e.g., visual connections between teaching facilities, smooth transitions). In my teaching, I utilize space solutions that support teaching in collaboration with other teachers (e.g., common spaces, spaces that can be converted with transfer walls, curtains or loose furniture).
Activities in pairs, in small groups and with the whole group The new premises are easily adaptable to the size of the teaching group. In my lessons, group sizes vary widely (e.g., pair work, small groups, whole group).
Sharing knowledge in different ways (parties, exhibitions, performances) The new building has facilities for organizing community events of various sizes (exhibitions, parties, performances) and sharing knowledge through various means. In my school, I organize community events in various spaces (exhibitions, parties, performances).
Creative, aesthetic environment​ The new premises provide a creative and aesthetic environment where it is a pleasure to learn. I spend my time increasing the comfort of school facilities.
Security​ In the new premises, openness and smooth connections increase safety through social control. In my teaching, I utilize the openness of premises and visual connections to increase social control and safety.
Involvement of guardians New space solutions (including transparency, accessibility and flexibility) strengthen the involvement of guardians in various meetings and events. I think of space solutions for involving guardians.
Learner wellbeing and inclusion Active participation in design of one’s own schoolwork and learning environment Different student teams will have their own facilities (e.g., student union space) for planning events and marking occasions. I participate in guiding student teams that plan and implement joint activities of the school.
in learning environment
The new school spaces support students’ active learning (e.g., various group work spaces, large whiteboards available to students, and mounting surfaces). In my courses, students need versatile facilities for group work (e.g., whiteboards, mounting surfaces).
Setting one’s own goals, planning and following one’s own learning There will be spaces in the building where I can have confidential discussions with students related to the planning and supervision of studies. I have individual discussions with students about their plans and goals for their studies.
Individual study paths The new facilities will make it possible to implement individual learning paths (e.g., combining distance and contact learning, flexible groupings). My course can be completed individually (e.g., flexible groupings, combining distance or contact teaching).
Physical activity throughout
school day
The building will come with a wide range of solutions that encourage students’ physical activity both indoors and outdoors (e.g., swings, chin-up bars, poles). I encourage students to engage in physical activity during the school day.
Multiprofessional collaboration The new student welfare group facilities will be easily accessible for multiprofessional collaboration. I am in low contact with multidisciplinary student welfare groups.
Future transversal competences Cross-curricular
New school spaces are being developed for the implementation of cross-curricular courses (e.g., visual connections between spaces, flexibility). I use different school facilities for a course that transcends subject boundaries.
digital activities
New school spaces are being developed to implement the most authentic and versatile ways of working possible (e.g., meeting rooms and remote connections, virtual and augmented reality, simulations). In my courses, I incorporate ways of working that are as authentic and diverse as possible (e.g., virtual and augmented reality, simulations).
Maker culture New spaces are being developed to suit makerspace working (experimental construction, crunching together). I use the makerspace in my teaching (experimental construction, working together).
Ecosocial education The new building itself represents the values of a sustainable future and circular economy thinking (waste prevention, materials management and reuse). I choose my course based on the learning environment and materials that promote a sustainable lifestyle, waste prevention, serviceability, and the reuse of materials/equipment.
Energy economy The development of new spaces is guided by a sustainable future (e.g., flexibility during the life cycle of the building), and energy efficiency is reflected in everyday life (e.g., energy and water consumption meters). I participate in sustainable school activities in my school and/or I monitor the energy consumption of high school facilities and act in an energy-efficient way (e.g., I turn off lights and electrical appliances).
Learning outdoors Various creatively implemented outdoor spaces suitable for teaching (e.g., a roof garden) are being developed for the new premises. I use the school’s own outdoor spaces as actively and creatively as possible in my teaching.
Ubiquitous learning Flexibility The new spaces have areas of activity that can be modified according to different individual learning needs (e.g., visual connections between groups, different visual and acoustic solutions). In my courses, I use the school spaces in varying ways according to the individual learning needs.
Diversity In the new spaces, it is possible to implement course content in a variety of different physical and virtual learning environments. I conduct my courses in a variety of physical and virtual learning environments.
Transparency The new spaces support an open culture of knowledge sharing and co-development. I work in spaces that support open knowledge sharing and joint development.
Gamification and functionality The new spaces support the functionalization and gaming of teaching, both physically and through digital technology. I use game and/or functional elements (physical or digital) in my teaching.
to surrounding society
The new building has good transport connections for the utilization of the surrounding society in education (including cooperation with companies and higher educational institutes). My courses visit the premises of various organizations in society.
Availability to external actors The new spaces are also actively used by other actors (e.g., evening use, hobbies). As a general rule, the school spaces I use are also used by external actors outside the school day.
Evaluation: Overall importance (1 = Not at all important – 7 = Very important). Evaluation: How often was the statement true (usage) during the last school year (1 = never, 2 = few times a year, 3 = once a month, 4 = few times per month, 5 = once a week, 6 = few times per week, 7 = daily).
Digital design of physical learning environments Readily available
digital instruments
Digital technology is readily available in a variety of spaces (including Internet connection and adequate charging plugs).
Internet of Things Objects and devices are connected to the Internet (IoT, Internet of Things), e.g., to measure the effectiveness of use and to utilize information in teaching.
Parallel design of digital instruments and physical spaces The design of the technological environment (e.g., wireless network, presentation hardware, personal machines, cloud services, maker tools) is carried out simultaneously with the planning of the operation of the physical spaces and considering the compatibility of their functions.
In-service support The design of the technological environment takes into account the support resources required for practical work (e.g., a person available to support the usage of digital instruments).
Design of virtual environments Innovative
learning technologies
Innovative pedagogical technology solutions to support learning together are implemented in the school spaces (e.g., immersion walls, virtual learning environments, virtual reality, augmented reality, voice shower).
Remote connection (course participation) Spatial solutions enable remote connections during school days for students to attend college and university courses.
Remote connection (companies, other educational institutes) In my courses, students are in remote contact with the surrounding society (e.g., collaborative projects with various educational institutions and companies).
Guardians’ involvement
through digital instruments
Digital technology enables the participation of guardians in various meetings and events.
teacher collaboration
Digital technology solutions (e.g., cloud services) support teacher collaboration in teaching and planning (e.g., developing course plans and sharing information).
co-teaching implementations
Virtual learning environments support co-teacher courses.
Supporting individual learning paths and guidance Digital technology solutions support the design of individual learning paths and the guidance of the student in a pedagogically meaningful way.


Generalized properties of the methodological framework

We transformed the presented TASSI inventory including socio-pedagogic activities and digital mediation, the related claims pertaining to their descriptive subordinates, and the subjective Likert scale evaluations as the generalized properties as follows:

i) The thematic categories and their subordinates as thematic metrics:

  • The categories of pedagogical activities are denoted by P1, …, PN.
  • Each categoryP1, …, PN has separate subordinates p1, …, pn with n ≥ 1. If PN  has no subordinates, i.e., n = 0, then PN  is treated as its own subordinate PN = p1.
  • Digital mediation, i.e., digital technology in support of pedagogical activities, is treated as its own category, denoted as PD.
  • The PD has subordinates of physical spaces pp and virtual spaces pv.

ii) Claims and related Likert evaluations in the questionnaire as quantified variables:

  • Each subordinatep1, …, pn, pp and pv has claims on school spaces’
    • realized usage u1, …, un.
    • the importance in achieving the educational goals g1, …, gn.
    • the importance in cultivating the school’s operating culture c1, …, cn.
  • Each claim is subjectively evaluated by a respondent Ri ∈ {1, …, m}, m ≥ 1 with a predefined numeric Likert scale of s ∈ {1, .., X}, X ≥ 3.


Producing the culture, goals, and usage indicators

For the sociomaterial analysis, the TASSI enabled us to align and deliver the three different values (usage, goals, and culture) for each socio-pedagogic and digital mediation subordinate. In order to do so, we calculated the mean of the responses to each claim, which indicated the average importance of spaces in achieving pedagogical goals and overall meaning in the school’s operational culture. The usage of spaces was evaluated by the frequency of use. Transforming this to the present sociomaterial intertwining mechanism is as follows.

The mechanism calculates numeric indicators I for usage (teachers’ responses around their experiential use of spaces), goals (the perceived importance of spaces in achieving pedagogical goals), and culture (the interpretation of the importance of spaces in the development of operational culture).

The summative normalized indicators Ipp, Ipv and Ipi, i ∈ {1, .., n}, I ∈ [0,1]  for each subordinate pp, pv and p1, …,  pn is calculated with the indicator function f, where si ∈ {1, .., 7} denotes the subjective evaluation of claims by the respondents Ri, i {1, …, m}, where m ≥ 1 is the number of respondents. The subjective evaluation scale  denotes in the realized school spaces usage claims: 1= never, 2 = few times a year, 3 = once a month, 4 = few times per month, 5 = once a week, 6 = few times per week, 7 = daily; and in the importance of school spaces’ usage in meeting the educational goals and space solutions in cultivating the school’s operating culture claims from 1 = not important at all to 7 = very important. Normalization may be omitted by setting max s = 1 as a result of which the summative indicator Ipp, Ipv, Ipi ∈ [0,1] reflecting to the evaluation scale si.



For each P1, …, PN the produced indicators Ipi of the subordinates p1, …, pn, and the produced indicators Ipp and Ipv of the subordinates pp and pv for PD are grouped according to the usage u1, …, un, goals g1, …, gn and culture c1, …, cn claims, denoted as usage indicators Iupp, Iupv, and Iupi, goals indicators Igpp, Igpv, and Igpi, and culture indicators Icpp, Icpv, and Icpi , i ∈ {1, …, n}. These grouped summative indicators are needed in order to examine the usage, goals, and culture aspects separately within each P1, …, PN and PD category.

For each P1, …, PN the mean indicators Ī are calculated with the basic averaging formula for usage indicators upi, goals indicators gpi, and culture indicators cpi, i ∈ {1, …, N}. The mean indicators are needed in order to examine the usage, goals, and culture aspects as a whole over the categories P1, …, PN.


Plotting the indicators to pedagogic activities and tracing the sociomaterial entanglement

To visualize the usage, goals, and culture perspectives on spaces (i.e., experiential realized use of spaces, perceived importance of spaces in achieving pedagogical goals, and the interpretation of the importance of spaces in cultivating operational culture), we plotted the calculated indicators to axes presenting the socio-pedagogic activities in a radar chart. For the sociomaterial intertwining mechanism, this is specified as follows:

To visualize the school spaces in support of socio-pedagogic activities:

  • as an entirety: The mean indicators upi (usage), gpi(goals), and cpi(culture), i ∈ {1, …, N } are plotted to a radar chart with corresponding dimensions of categories P1, …, PN and PD.
  • per each category P1, …, PN and PD: Series of the grouped summative indicators Iupp, Iupv, and Iupi (usage),  Igpp, Igpv, and Igpi(goals), and Icpp, Icpv, and Icpi (culture), i ∈ {1, …, n} are plotted to a radar chart with corresponding dimensions of the subordinates pp, pv and p1, …, pn .