Archive for April, 2012


Monday, April 23rd, 2012

“…the learning technology community has raided other disciplines’ ‘toolboxes’ without always recognising the values and assumptions from which those tools have been developed.” (22)


Oliver, M., Roberts, G., Beetham, H., Ingraham, B., Dyke, M., & Levy, P. (2007). Knowledge, society and perspectives on learning technology. In G. Conole & M. Oliver (Eds.), Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research. London: Routledge. 21-37.

Challenging the Binaries

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I’ve had my abstract accepted for Challenging the Binaries, the Centre for the Study of Literacies International Conference at the University of Sheffield on the 29th and 30th of June. The paper will expand on ideas I discussed in a previous blog post. My abstract is as follows:

Drawing on my research into how PhD students are using social and participatory media, I problematize binaries associated with online identity by adopting two generally opposing social practices from lifelong learning studies: the ‘confessional’ and the ‘critical’ (Usher et al., 1996).

In a confessional practice, the learner is disempowered in accepting the dominant (often solitary) model of learning, aligning her subjectivities with formal educational discourses to articulate her own learning needs. Corresponding pedagogies are based on rhetoric of the ‘self,’ and manifest in professional profiling and portfolio development (Tennant, 2009). Identity is seen as stable, developmental and coherent across spaces of productivity, reinforcing binaries of formal and informal, and work and recreation.

In a critical practice, identity is multiple, fluid and fragmentary. Rather than adapting to specific learning contexts, empowerment is authenticated through questioning, challenging and potentially changing them through discursive practices. The literature on critical pedagogies locates the politics of self-representation within the cultural processes of education, and sees the learner as a socially and politically constituted agent able to shape her identity construction.

Through developing authentic representations of ‘doing a PhD,’ framed within the transformative nature of the doctoral learning experience, I argue identity construction extends beyond activities associated with thesis development and models of socialisation, to incorporate student agency within and across multiple practice contexts, ranging from entrepreneurialism to student activism.


Tennant, M. (2009). Lifelong learning as a technology of the self. In K. Illeris, Contemporary theories of learning (pp. 147-158). London: Routledge.

Usher, R., Bryant, I., & Johnston, R. (1996). Adult education and the postmodern challenge: Learning beyond the limits. London: Routledge.

The friend of man

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

On Tuesday, I attended the funeral of Richard Laight, an ex-colleague from the University of Nottingham who became a close and valued friend. Given his sudden and unexpected death, it was a very sad occasion, but one which also celebrated a life that had blessed many. I was asked to read this fitting epitaph. Richard will be greatly missed.

An honest man here lies at rest …
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of Age, and guide of Youth:
Few hearts like his with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.

Robert Burns | Epitaph on my own friend, and my father’s friend, William Muir in Tarbolton (1784)