p-Learning’s unwelcome legacy

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Jon Dron


Formal teaching of adults has evolved in a context defined, initially, by the constraints of physical boundaries. Classroom walls directly entail timetables, norms and rules of behaviour, social segregation into organized groups and, notably, the course as a fundamental unit of instruction. Our adult education systems are well adapted to provide efficient and cost-effective teaching within those boundaries. Digitally embodied boundaries are far more fluid, open, permeable, scalable, metaphorical and fuzzy.
This has helped to drive the increasing dominance of e-learning in intentional informal learning and yet methods that emerge from physical boundaries dominate institutional e-learning, though they are a poor fit with the media. This paper is an exploration of the implications of the removal of physical boundaries to online pedagogies, many of which challenge our most cherished educational foundations and assumptions.

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