Data gathered from digital archives of formal asynchronous text-based discussions, periodic professor-led and weekly student led informal synchronous, auditory discussions, as well as focus group and individual interviews, provided evidence of emergences of complex sociomaterial assemblages (Decuypere and Simons, 2016). Initially fragile assemblages (Fenwick and Edwards, 2012) included instances of letting go of previous physical attachments and gathering new online attachments. For example, participants reported forming strong attachments among cohort-based peers during residential sessions as enabling them to engage in scholarly discussions, but having to let go of these attachments when they engaged in non-cohort based, online fall coursework. Simultaneously, participants had to re-establish their presentation of self, academic “voice,” and sense of belonging. Differences among participants’ familiarity and comfort with digital technologies, as well as awareness of social practices associated with working with these technologies, resulted in individual participants encountering diverse obligatory points of passage for engagement (Mol and Law, 1994). For some participants, an obligatory point of passage was developing technical skills. For others, it was overcoming tensions between obligation to contribute and insecurity about how much or how often to contribute. For still others, it was finding a sub-group of course members with whom they felt comfortable sharing draft ideas ahead of full-group discussions.
In this session, we plan to provide pause-points for audience discussion and critique. During our presentation of study themes and key findings, participants will be provided with samples of anonymized data. In small groups, participants will be asked to identify instances of student engagement with learning resources, the instructor, and peers. Delegates will be asked to reflect on their own online teaching practices in relation to the study data. A follow-up facilitated discussion will problematize the notions of student engagement, innovative teaching, and learning spaces and practices.
Decuypere, M., and Simons, M., 2016. On the critical potential of sociomaterial approaches to education. Teoría de la educación, 28(1), 25-44.
Fenwick, T., and Edwards, R., 2012. Researching education through actor-network theory. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Mol, A., and Law, J., 1994. Regions, networks and fluids: anaemia and social topology. Social Studies of Science, 24(4), 641 – 671.