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Education as Space-Travel. Referred to in H817 EMA as Bamlett (2016c)

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 9 Aug 2016, 06:57

Referred to in H817 EMA as Bamlett (2016c).

Sometimes the fantasy that strikes off academic work that does not yearn for recognition in the external world is more interesting than the reality. I allowed myself one hint of it on p. 14 of my EMA. Here it is:

The aim of working with ‘disposition’ (relative to ensuring a responsive environment) is to yoke ‘affect’ onto learning motivations, facilitating educational space-travel of all kinds (Bamlett 2016c).

Whether I will get away with that, I have yet to find – probably on Christmas Eve this year – that’s usual with OU.

The reference comes following a discussion of Moore’s concept of ‘transactional distance’, the first language offered to us to talk about ‘distance education’. Unfortunately, there seems very little now about this apt matter though I found some great pointers in the work of Suzanne Shaffer of Penn State University,

What would it mean for the OU Learner to think of themselves as a ‘spacesperson’? While Moore thought of transactional distance as a place where shared meaning can get lost, that seems now we have so much experience of it, very lame. It does keep arising in the muddle-headed pursuit of ‘social presence’ online but that doesn’t help Open Education to find its feet in a way that respects learning as something more than the experience of a chat room.

Space Person 

         But 'social distance' too helped me to think of the meanings of ‘distance’ in Distance Education – those areas for especial attention. I believe distance is about:

  1.            Proximal / Distal relationship to subject-matter because of Socio-Cultural Association.
  2. 2.      The realms of ‘affect’ thrown up by confronting a subject’s ‘threshold concepts’ – fear, boredom, mania, resistance, love, hate etc.
  3. 3.       Differences in tools of understanding between different language communities – this could  refer to differences of language in France and Germany but equally to the language of  medics and social workers.
  4. 4.           Social Distance related to elite functions of a subject-matter. Thus, for instance it was not     unusual for a whole literature to be designed to exclude most of the population who speak   the language of the literature. Strangely, this effect is played on by Cavafy, who chose to    write with ‘katharevousa’ for a reason – and not because he didn’t like a ‘bit of’ demotic –  his poems make it clear he did.
  5. 5.      Geographical space – lots of value to be found here in the immediate contexts of intimate disclosures across huge space.
  6. 6.      Temporal space – the amazing effects of asynchronous discussion on the internet

I will leave it there, knowing I get exhausted more easily than the list should be.

That is why I refer to ‘educational space-travel of all kinds’. And here’s a bit I cut out of the EMA:

It refers to, ‘potential of travelling distances between knowledge that is tied to alienating affect (boredom, difficulty and cultural distance) and the willingness to approach it that can be offered by the access to systemic resources of the global web. This is even more the case when the web offers curated access to distributed resources that might once have equated with stores of intrapersonal intelligence – the ability, for instance, to answer questions on ‘University Challenge’.

Lucas & Claxton (2010:99) identify ‘functional fixedness’ as a means of disempowering learners from grasping more than the obvious affordances of resources. They see it as endemic to cultures dependent on teaching-to-the test rather than ‘lifelong-learning’.

All the best


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