A. Dominguez

DeVry University (UNITED STATES)
In the last decade, the physical and ideological spaces of education have drastically changed and now challenge the very foundations of the educational process. At the center of these transformations is the advent of distance learning. The Institute of Education Sciences defines distance education as flexible learning opportunities and may include, “live, interactive audio- or videoconferencing; prerecorded instructional videos; webcasts; CD-ROMs or DVDs; or computer-based systems accessed over the Internet.” In considering this definition, “Expanding the Frontier of Distance Learning: Pedagogical Shifts for Video Conference Classrooms” argues that the use of video conferencing technologies enhances the distance learning experience by extending the space of the virtual classroom by creating new contexts for instructor and student communication and collaboration. While digital distance learning has come under fire in recent years, the addition of real-time video interaction creates not only new possibilities for collaborative learning, but removes barriers often associated with distance learning as one-way knowledge processes. Rather, video conferencing creates an educational space that necessitates two-way dialogues and knowledge building. This argument thus interrogating the following questions: How does the use of video conferencing change the configuration of the virtual classroom and alter definitions of blended learning? How can flipped classroom pedagogies extend and enhance technological tools? What are the costs and benefits of this new education modality? In order to unpack these complex questions, this paper utilizes a case study of English Video Conferencing Classroom (VCC) courses at DeVry University (United States). VCC courses at DeVry connect multiple campus sites for a single class meeting, incorporating students from multiple locations. An instructor facilitates class meeting times and online discussions from a single location and must not only meet learning objectives, but create collaborative class environments across time and space. This method of delivery creates a new dialogical schema for students and faculty. In her landmark work on composition studies, Literacy, Ideology, and Dialogue, Irene Ward describes her theory of “functional dialogism” to examine the pedagogical modalities of the flipped classroom and student-centered learning. This paper builds on these conversations to consider flipped learning in relation to new distance learning platforms, such as VCC courses. To underscore and expand these ideas, I deploy a Cultural Studies methodology to examine the development of what theorist Benedict Anderson has described as “imagined communities” in relation to new educational spaces. By deploying this theoretical platform, I interrogate not only the technology of VCC education and how it alters learning processes, but consider new modalities of progressive pedagogy and coalition building through educational communities. Finally, I suggest that this pedagogical approach bridges the gap between academic and public discourse by marking academic space as a space of public discourse that is highly visible and dialogical. Placed in the context of globalization and internationalization, both within education and professional circles, VCC courses expose students to new communication modalities and competencies that will extend beyond the physical and virtual walls of the university.