part of the MSc in E-learning at the University of Edinburgh

Words and things that go bump in the night

Kress* contends that words are empty and have to be filled with meaning. The language Sian** uses in her article e.g. uncanny, phantoms, spectres, haunting and ghostliness is a good example, in my view, of words being far from empty. For me these words are full of associations with horror fiction and convey a distinctly evil twist. So much so that I had to work hard to ‘empty’ these words of their culturally acquired meaning in order to fill them with their academic meaning in the context of this article. The words had become barriers to accessing the ideas rather than illuminating them. Intellectual uncertainty, strangeness and anxiety inducing environments I agree can provide motivation and challenge to learn in a positive way but the language used here has negative connotations of fearfulness and dark forces which runs counter to the claims being made. The uncertainties of digital leaning spaces and places for learning may indeed spark strong negative emotional responses that could lead to a paralysis rather than a galvanising of new approaches to teaching and learning. Indeed the strangeness and fluidity of partial presence in and through digital space may unsettle to the point of inhibiting learning.

It seems to me that these are dangerous metaphors and should be used with care lest we forever cast negatively the exciting opportunities for learning and being in virtual environments shaped by digital technologies.

*Kress, G (2005) Gains and losses: new forms of texts, knowledge and learning. Computers and Composition. 22(1), 5-22.
**Bayne, S. (2010). Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education, vol 8, no 1, 5-13.

Posted by Geraldine May Jones on October 12th, 2011 at 11:07 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

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