Her research aims to create a more critical and nuanced discussion about digital technologies and education

Catarina Player-Koro’s inaugural lecture will take place on 11 April at 10:50-11:20 at the University of Borås and will be open to the public. For more information, see the calendar on the university website at hb.se.

The Academic Ceremony will be conducted on 22 April to celebrate the installation of Catarina Player-Koro as Professor of Educational Work at the University of Borås.
Read more about the Academic Ceremony

Any conversation with Catarina Player-Koro will show her inquisitiveness and eagerness to decipher how things hang together. Inquisitiveness is always a driving force for her, whether dealing with theoretical intricacies in her role as a researcher or within a more private context, when looking into her personal background and how it has shaped her.

“My mother has been a role model to me throughout my life. As she did not have the opportunity to study as a young girl herself, she has always encouraged me to develop my intellectual faculties. Without her unfailing support, I would not have been able to enter the world of academia the way I have” said Catarina Player-Koro.

A strong interest in technology

Catarina Player-Koro has always been interested in technical matters which, at first, led her towards the path of engineering. Attracted to the teaching profession, she trained as a teacher of mathematics and natural science subjects for years four to nine of primary education. During the 1990s, she worked in independent adult education as a teacher of mathematics and computer studies.

The students there during the nineties were often young people who had not been successful during their early school years. Encouraging them to believe in themselves and in their capacities became a major mission of her teaching.

“My strongest recollection from this period is that one of my pupils, despite many previous misgivings, actually became a Professor of Mathematics due to the encouragement he had received during my classes.”

The road to her professorship

 Catarina Player-Koro has been teaching at an academic level within the areas of Informatics, teacher education and studies at the Master’s and doctoral level since 1998. She received her doctoral degree in Applied Information Technology towards Science of Education at Gothenburg University from 2015 to 2021.

When she started working as a Lecturer at the University of Borås in 1998, she had no previous experience of the academic world or of what doing research implied. She soon grasped, however, that this was an environment that suited her perfectly.

“I love academia. It means becoming part of an organisation that always strives to reach the heights of knowledge and sophistication. Being together with people who, despite varying areas of interest, share a common urge to learn more, and to understand how things function, is very stimulating,” said Catarina Player-Koro.

That she was to go on to become a professor was something she had never dreamt of when, at the age of fifty, she received her doctorate. Her new role has been very important to her, as it has increased her opportunities to assist others with other academic matters.

“Through my role as a professor, I will be able to participate in the founding of an academic and pedagogical milieu at the department. In addition, I will be able to spread knowledge about the digital aspects of different professions, education, and teaching.”

Research on digitalisation of schools and education

 Catarina Player-Koro have been active in researching the integration of digital technology into schools. Her studies of digitalisation take as their point of departure a critical examination of the discourse around technological determinism: that digital technology has the ability to revolutionise teaching, schools, and education systems. In that area she has studied consequences of school digitalisation both from a classrooms perspective, but also from a political perspective where the consequences for education due to globalisation, marketisation, and neoliberal governing has been in focus.

Her research on school digitalisation has received attention both within academia but also in the media. Digital technologies have often been argued for and implemented in schools and education with hopes that the technology should solve educational problems and significantly reconfigure education for the better.  Catarina Player-Koro has, through her studies strived for a more critical and nuanced discussion about expectations with digital technologies in education and also consequences of the fact that digitalisation has become an important part of education policy and the privatisation and marketisation of education.  

“Early on, I started questioning whether computers were the solution to everything. Through the research I and others carried out, evidence was found to prove that the didactic ability of a teacher is of greater significance than the tools used in schools. I usually say that we can leave the technical aspects to the end and start by first talking about what we wish to achieve. It is important for teachers to feel that they have the authority to bring things up with their leaders based on their own competencies,” said Player-Koro.

Continued focus on education policy and implications of school digitization

 What does the future hold for the research area? Catarina Player-Koro envisages a continued focus on education policy, the teaching profession, and digitalisation. Teachers’ work and education has in many ways been both structured and controlled through the digital infrastructure of schools. The consequences of that needs to be investigated and discussed.  

Being a researcher is a way of life

Being a researcher is, for Catarina Player-Koro, more of a lifestyle than a job. A beach holiday is more pleasant when she has brought some scientific articles with her to read and reflect upon. Her spare time is devoted to outdoor activities and physical exercise. And she truly enjoys her role as a grandmother.

Catarina Player-Koro

Doctoral thesis: Reproducing Traditional Discourses of Teaching and Learning Mathematics: Studies of Mathematics and ICT in Teaching and Teacher Education, 2012.

A person who has been a major source of inspiration: Neil Selwyn – a researcher who at an early stage questioned the extended use of digitalisation in schools and is the main leader within this area of research

My best advice to junior researchers: Try to pick subjects that interest you, and that you feel passionate about, regardless of whether you will get funding or not. 

Latest reading experience: Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgård 

Hidden talent: Can play both the saxophone and the clarinet