P. Booth

Manchester Metropolitan University (UNITED KINGDOM)
This paper seeks to explore performative practices and identities at the interface between human relations and media technologies. As a catalyst for educational change we can read how technology produces ways of thought and behavior as extension of ourselves and the conditions in which we understand subjective realities through digital modes of knowledge exchange. Using the case study of the development of an educational mobile application the work addresses the way digital spaces can become specific and central to meaning and understanding, rather than an alternative form of delivery the learning place creates new interactions and the learner is able to engage with the research across larger knowledge networks, through use of applications and shared resources. The digital space in which a learner participates occupies a centre of meaning constructed by experience. The work identifies the significance of place and how this is structured through interaction with mobile technology. One of the defining characteristics of new technologies is they embody mass socialisation of Internet connections and activities based around the collective actions of communities of users rather than individuals. In this sense, much digital technology use can be seen as a ‘hybrid of tool and community’ (Shirky 2008, p.136), referring to services and applications that rely on ‘openly shared digital content that is authored, critiqued and reconfigured by a mass of users’.

I intend to present my work through the rationale of the development of a social networking mobile phone application to augment the physical classroom space and develop a new space for integration into a Mooc (Massively Open Online Course) that allows users to access and contribute as nodes of a mobile knowledge network. How do these transitory digital spaces become embedded with the experiences symbolic of a place of learning? The concept of place develops from understandings of large areas of open access digital space that is neither innocent nor neutral, but an instrument of the political; with a performative aspect for whoever inhabits it (Pouler in Scheer and Preiser 1994, p. 175). Marc Auge (2008) argues that the facts of post-modernity ‘point to a need for radical rethinking of the notion of place. Place, he argues has traditionally been thought of as a fantasy of a society anchored since time immemorial in the permanence of an intact soil’. How can we use technology to develop new sites of learning and alternative digital spaces?