Doctoral Dialogue in a Virtual Space
Authors: Readman, M.
Start date: 29 July 2015
The Doctor of Education (EdD) programme in the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) at Bournemouth University is a ‘blended’ course for education professionals in creative/media disciplines, comprising short residentials and a virtual learning environment (VLE). It is the latest example of the Centre’s commitment to developing innovative pedagogies, and the metaphor of the ‘classroom’ is often invoked in order to stress the significance of the VLE.
The VLE is bespoke, and designed to facilitate dialogue between the Participants. The course team suggests that this conversation is vital to the students’ learning and the formation of a community of practice (Lave and Wenger 1998). Unlike traditional doctoral programmes, this EdD enrols students in cohorts and uses the VLE to construct and consolidate this cohort identity.
This presentation examines a number of things in relation to this programme: the practices of ‘governance’ employed by tutors on the VLE to stimulate and direct particular forms of dialogue; the nature of the ‘virtual’ interactions between the participants, including tutors; the experience of users, including their occasional resistance to, and avoidance, of participation; and the nature and affordances of the interface. Through doing this work it will be possible to reach some conclusions about the different modes of participation and address that are manifested on the VLE, to suggest some possible explanations or interpretations of these, and to assess the relative success of different strategies designed to encourage participation.
Ultimately this presentation represents a critical engagement with the rhetoric about the benefits of ‘virtual learning’ and the possibilities of nurturing doctoral dialogue in a virtual space.