Online learning: narratives of (dis) location

Slade, Sharon; Galpin, Fenella and Prinsloo, Paul (2008). Online learning: narratives of (dis) location. In: 3rd International Conference on E-Learning, 26-27 Jun 2008, Cape Town, South Africa.



The growth in using ICT to plan more effective learning in higher education necessitates a critical appropriation of the impact of ‘transactional immediacy’ on students’ experiences of online learning and teaching. As institutions attempt to counter the effect of ‘transactional distance’ by exploring opportunities offered by asynchronous and synchronous online learning environments, the ‘immediacy’ of online education is often valorised. ‘Transactional immediacy’ in online learning can result in experiences of disorientation and dissonance. These experiences, though, are not necessarily negative.

This paper shares findings from a study of students’ online journals in the Professional Certificate in Management, offered by the OU Business School. The study found ample evidence of a variety of dislocations which students experience, but also a variety of locating strategies employed by students to deal with the multifaceted disequilibrium some experience in learning online. This dislocation can be technological, epistemological and ontological. In their learning journals, students reflect on such experiences, but also document a variety of strategies to self-author. This paper aims to provide a theoretical foundation for the notion of (dis)location in online learning; presents qualitative research findings regarding the (dis)locating experiences of students, and shares ideas for the design of online learning experiences within a hermeneutical framework of (dis)location.

The findings have implications for the design, management and administration of online learning, and specifically for the use of online learning journals.

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