About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 216-223
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain

INHABITING THE VIRTUAL: CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIPS IN NETWORKED LEARNING

C. Sinclair, S. Boon

University of Strathclyde (UNITED KINGDOM)
Academics have varying responses to engagement with networked learning. For some it may seem a giant step into the spotlight onto the virtual stage; for others, it provides an opportunity to step out of the spotlight and indeed out of classrooms altogether. Each of these extremes alters and potentially ignores the traditional dyadic relationship between academics and students. In this paper, we make a case for keeping relationships in view as teaching moves inexorably online.

Drawing on personal experiences as students, teachers and educational developers, we argue for the need to pay attention to the implications of what is projected on our screens and by whom. We have evidence of our own interpretations of the screen as both a potential barrier and an enabler with respect to learning. We explore the notion that younger students might not even see the screen––as there is little or no differentiation of experience whether online or off.

We write at a time when one of us is about to become the online teacher of the other, during the piloting of a professional development module in teaching and learning online. The “teacher” in this dyad has recently graduated with an MSc in E-learning and now feels called upon to project her new identity within a virtual environment. Her reflections draw on what she noted as a student and the conversations she had with specialists in higher education and specifically in e-learning. The “student” in turn has an opportunity to adopt a new perspective to virtual encounters from that of his previous experience of teaching online.

The paper examines what happens during virtual performances––including what is going on backstage––and the impact this has on our audiences. But who constitutes that audience? The question arises not only with the distinction between academic staff and students who are both seen projected on the screen; there are also digital selves, online profiles and numerous “versions” of all the participants in the pedagogic relationships online. Our identities, our representations, our projections are constantly flickering in the spotlight.

Ideas of time and space are particularly challenged in virtual environments. Immediacy and distance have an impact on online presence affecting relationships between the players. Online pedagogy has to take into account the need to build a relationship with someone who may not actually be there. As classrooms evolve, some of the participants may know one another in a “real” world while others have only virtual relationships. This inevitably affects the dynamics of the learning environment.

The paper tracks some challenges for online participants in thinking about the real and unreal and the associated changes in definition and reference of the word “virtual”. We have been adjusting our focus as we look at the screen. By deciding to participate in our virtual worlds, we have experienced challenges in performativity, multiplicity and hybridity. While the process has been sometimes uncomfortable, we have made a commitment to inhabit these virtual spaces. Our conclusion, again, is that we need to take our basic humanity with us. There remains an essential, if challenging, relationship between academics and their students that we must strive to engage and foster.
@InProceedings{SINCLAIR2011INH,
author = {Sinclair, C. and Boon, S.},
title = {INHABITING THE VIRTUAL: CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIPS IN NETWORKED LEARNING},
series = {3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN11 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-0441-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {216-223}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Sinclair AU - S. Boon
TI - INHABITING THE VIRTUAL: CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIPS IN NETWORKED LEARNING
SN - 978-84-615-0441-1/2340-1117
PY - 2011
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2011
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN11 Proceedings
SP - 216
EP - 223
ER -
C. Sinclair, S. Boon (2011) INHABITING THE VIRTUAL: CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIPS IN NETWORKED LEARNING, EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 216-223.
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