Constructing a discipline: pedagogically focused knowledge production in open and distance education

Hewings, Ann and Seargeant, Philip (2014). Constructing a discipline: pedagogically focused knowledge production in open and distance education. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning, 29(2) pp. 131–144.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2014.951619

Abstract

This paper explores the ways in which module and curriculum development in the context of a distance education (DE) programme play an important role in ‘constructing’ a discipline’s object of study, thus contributing to the ways in which knowledge is understood in society. The paper examines how the process of module production both reflects and shapes the discipline within which the module is positioned, and looks at the ways in which the collaborative approach of module design used in DE contexts facilitates a sustained engagement with the issues that constitute disciplinarity. The context for this examination is an undergraduate module introducing distance-learning students to the subject of English language, its state and status around the world. This module constitutes the equivalent of one semester of student work and integrates various pedagogical resources to provide a comprehensive introduction to the subject. The production process, with input from academics across the globe and the use of specially commissioned audio-visual materials examining the existence of English worldwide, represents an attempt to incorporate disciplinary expertise from a broad range of sources. In reflecting upon the processes of module creation and dissemination in a DE context, the paper offers insights into the practicalities of pedagogically focused disciplinary knowledge production.

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