Home-schooling for children with disabilities during the pandemic: a study of digital-, musical- and socio-economic conversion factors

Kjetil Klette Bøhler* (Corresponding Author), Education in the North

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article investigates how increased focus on home-schooling influenced children with disabilities ́ everyday education during the pandemic. Specifically, I focus on how children with disabilities were able to engage in home-schooling on digital learning platforms according to their own interests during the pandemic. Conceptually I draw on theoretical arguments developed within the ‘capability approach’ with a particular emphasis on “conversion factors” as this model allows me to identify the different mechanisms that may hamper, and/or enable, children with disabilities ́ learning practices. I pay specific attention to what I call digital-, musical- and socio-economic conversion factors, and describe how these three contexts (musical practices, digital platforms and socio-economic background coupled with ethnicity) influenced the children’s educational experience.
Three lessons can be learned. First, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds became even more consequential during the pandemic, as many children with disabilities were left more on their own and offered less support from educational institutions and the welfare services due to various infection- control measures. This placed single mothers and parents with few resources and/or immigrant backgrounds in a particularly vulnerable position as they struggled to make the ends meet while absorbing all of the new responsibilities of home-schooling. Second, many people experienced the new virtual classroom as chaotic, which marginalised children with disabilities who had trouble handling online social codes, either on teaching and learning platforms or through social media. Third, musical practices represented an important part of some children’s everyday education which parents discovered anew during the pandemic. Music facilitated learning while simultaneously contributing to a sense of well-being and social participation for their children. More work is needed on how musical practices, digital technologies, and socio-economic features may hamper and facilitate the educational experience of persons with disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-248
Number of pages28
JournalEducation in the North
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgement and funding
I want to thank my colleague Elisabeth Ugreninov at NOVA: Norwegian Social Research, OsloMet University, for great collaborative work in carrying out this research project, and for insightful comments to earlier drafts throughout the processes that helped me improve my argument. I also want to thank the other colleagues at NOVA for insightful comments on prior versions of the article and I am grateful for the constructive critique provided by the reviewers of my article. Taken together, all this productive critique helped me articulate my argument in a more nuanced and convincing manner. I also want to thank Fakhra Salimi and my anonymous informants for participating in this study and for sharing their important views. Lastly, I want to thank the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, who funded this research project and for a fruitful dialogue with them throughout the process.


  • music
  • children with disabilities
  • education
  • capability
  • conversion factor


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