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New geographies of learning: distance education and being ‘at’ Edinburgh

Presentation for Spaces of (Dis)location, Glasgow, May 2012
by

Clara O'Shea

on 26 November 2012

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Transcript of New geographies of learning: distance education and being ‘at’ Edinburgh

New geographies of learning:
distance education and being ‘at’ Edinburgh The EdinSpace Project
c/- clara.oshea@ed.ac.uk and james.lamb@ed.ac.uk
Moray House School of Education
The University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH8 8AQ Locating spaces core:
An introduction to digital environments for learning (40 credit)
Research methods (20 credit)
Dissertation (60 credit)

20 credit options:
Digital futures for learning
E-learning, politics and society
Understanding learning in the online environment
E-learning and digital cultures
E-learning strategy and policy
Psychological and social contexts of e-learning
Information literacies for online learning
Online assessment
Effective course design for e-learning
Introduction to digital game-based learning C. Methodology What insight does this give us into learning design for high quality distance programmes? The sense of location and connection to an institution is differently, not less, important to students who are studying at a distance from their home university. connection, community and campus envy What does it mean....
to be a student at Edinburgh who is not in Edinburgh? http://edinspace.weebly.com/ Ontological differences? Participant: it all seemed to happen in some what of a blur really, I applied for a september start, was accepted for a jan start (2010 I think) and so the purple books arrived over the festive period, and I remember feeling rushed with the start of term, and working out how to log in to various sites, blogs, twitter etc. I was thinking about this on the way home tonight, it was a little like a Star Trek materialising thing, appeared as if from nowhere, and catapulted into IDEL. That said, the first few weeks, once we got started, were taken at a very welcome pace

Interviewer: That's a nice analogy - being teleported into a new world.

Participant: yes indeed, images of William Shatner wearing a slightly puzzled look, perhaps my laptop (precariously balanced as ever) could be thought of as my communicator/phaser :) Going boldly.... 'On a very different note, my mum and dad both used to live in Penicuik, so there was a slightly nostalgic part of me which thought Edinburgh study would be quite cool. we used to park in Nicholson street, near the round edinburgh uni building (not sure of name) when we went christmas shopping, when visiting grandparents...I was also given an Edinburgh scarf in my early teens...seems funny that I have now 'earned' the right to wear it' Interviewer: Why were you so eager, do you think, about starting the course at Edinburgh? Striclty because of the previous disappointing experience?

Participant: A combination of that and a sentimental, family connection to Edinburgh. My father is a Scots man and I have relatives living there. I've always loved the city and would love to have gone to the physical university. Mobilities, moorings and the sea of interaction *going into spaces
*being part of places
*spaces and places coming into us? 'I may not be physically on campus, but as with so much of learning, the campus goes with me - as part of my cognitive real estate if you will.' 'As a student you are doing more than just being in class... actually I think the extra curricular life is just as important. With this course you are not too sure about it. Like all 'new' students in real time you'd be shuffling at the door.... but here ... where is the door.... perhaps one could enter one symbolically....' Is ODL placeless and borderless?
What is the relationship between location, place and identity?
Does the institution have significance and meaning for students even if they never visit its material campus? (Fenwick, Edwards and Sawchuk 2011) SEDENTARISM

"The emergent mobilities paradigm problematises two sets of extant theory. First, it undermines sedentarist theories present in many studies in geography, anthropology, and sociology. Sedentarism treats as normal stability, meaning, and place, and treats as abnormal distance, change, and placelessness. Sedentarism is often derived loosely from Heidegger, for whom dwelling (or wohnen) means to reside or to stay, to dwell at peace, to be content or at home in a place. It is the manner in which humans should inhabit the earth. He talks of dwelling places (Heidegger, 2002). Such sedentarism locates bounded and authentic places or regions or nations as the fundamentalbasis of human identity and experience and as the basic units of social research (Cresswell, 2002, pages 12 ^ 15). It rests on forms of territorial nationalism and their associated technologies of mapping and visualisation which emerged out of the Enlightenment `cosmic view' of the world (see Kaplan, this issue)." (Sheller and Urry, 2006: 208-9) "Space is not the equivalent of 'place', which may represent a sedimented region or meaning. Spatiality, the sociomaterial effects and relations of space-time, is, more critically, a tool for analysis. Issues fr education and work include how space become specifically educational or learning spaces; how they are constituted in ways that enable or inhibit learning, create inequities or exclusions, open or limit possibilities for new practices and knowledge; and how space is represented in the artefacts we use in educational practices, such as maps and pictures.

Spatial theories raise questions about what knowledge counts, where and how it emerges in different time-spaces, how subjectvities are negotiated through movements and locations, and how learning is enmeshed in the making of spaces. They open up new approaches through which to explore educational issues, moving the focus of research from individuals or individual interactions to the ordering of the human and non-human in space-time, where particular spatial practices are enacted as teaching and learning." (Fenwick and Edwards, 2011) Community Nostalgia and sentimentality Campus envy 'I think I was always conscious that the institution was located in Edinburgh and that the staff were there, but I felt more a student of the course than of the University. I can remember accessing the library catalogue primarily for ebooks that I could download and that always seemed to be a 'university' space and reminded me of the institution. But in terms of community - the community of other learners - there was definitely no feelings of isolation - in many ways, my fellow students were the institution.' 'I feel I can draw on the same support that I could if I was there, although I suppose sometimes I feel popping across campus for a face to face discussion would help. I think the only times you really notice you're not there is if others are arranging to meet up, or if there are conferences taking place which you could attend. I don't really feel part of the wider university, it's the course that's my link with Edinburgh and as consequence I don't engage in much beyond that.' Rose (2007) critical visual methodology (using three different ‘modalities’ in the interpretation of the image: the technological, the compositional, and the social)
Reissman (2004) narrative analysis (thematic analysis, structural analysis, interactional analysis and performative analysis) Interviewer: What then do you think it means to be a student who is *at* Edinburgh Uni, but not *in* Edinburgh?

Participant: Ha, for the last five weeks, I've engaged with the course from five different cities in three different countries...it means to be online but also mentally, intellectually and even emotionally engaged with the course. It's not about where you live and breathe [it's] what you're reading about, studying, researching, creating. I think for me being at Edinburgh is being intellectually stimulated, thrown into uncertainty, sort of crisis, living with it, embracing it.'
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