On the Misappropriation of Spatial Metaphors in Online Learning
Keywords:online learning, learning environment, learning management system (LMS), Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE), personal learning environment (PLE), learning infrastructure
In online educational systems, teachers often replicate pedagogical methods, and online institutions replicate systems and structures used by their in-person counterparts, the only purpose of which was to solve problems created by having to teach in a physical environment. Likewise, virtual learning environments often attempt to replicate features of their physical counterparts, thereby weakly replicating in software the problems that in-person teachers had to solve. This has contributed to a vicious circle of problem creation and problem solving that benefits no one. In this paper I argue that the term ‘environment’ is a dangerously misleading metaphor for the online systems we build to support learning, that leads to poor pedagogical choices and weak digital solutions. I propose an alternative metaphor of infrastructure and services that can enable more flexible, learner-driven, and digitally native ways of designing systems (including the tools, pedagogies, and structures) to support learning.
Alfi, O., Assor, A., & Katz*, I. (2004). Learning to allow temporary failure: Potential benefits, supportive practices and teacher concerns. Journal of Education for teaching, 30(1), 27-41. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0260747032000162299
Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2018). Integrating learning management and social networking systems. Italian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(3), 5-19.
Blum, S. D., & Kohn, A. (2020). Ungrading: Why rating students undermines learning (and what to do instead). West Virginia University Press.
Bouygues, H. L. (2019). Does Educational Technology Help Students Learn? https://reboot-foundation.org/does-educational-technology-help-students-learn/
Brand, S. (1997). How buildings learn. Phoenix Illustrated.
Brown, M., Dehoney, J., & Millichap, N. (2015). The next generation digital learning environment. A Report on Research. ELI Paper. Louisville, CO: Educause April, 5(1), 1-13.
Cormier, D. (2014). Community learning - the zombie resurrection. http://davecormier.com/edblog/2014/05/25/community-learning-the-zombie-resurrection/
Dagger, D., O’Connor, A., Lawless, S., Walsh, E., & Wade, V. P. (2007). Service-oriented e-learning platforms: From monolithic systems to flexible services. IEEE internet computing, 11(3), 28-35. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/MIC.2007.70
Downes, S. (2008). Places to Go: Connectivism & Connective Knowledge. Innovate, 5(1). http://www.innovateonline.info/pdf/vol5_issue1/Places_to_Go-__Connectivism_&_Connective_Knowledge.pdf
Dron, J. (2006). Any color you like, as long as it’s Blackboard®. In. Hawaii: AACE.
Dron, J. (2007). Control and Constraint in E-Learning: Choosing When to Choose. Idea Group International. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-59904-390-6
Dron, J. (2016). P-learning’s unwelcome legacy. TD Tecnologie Didattiche, 24(1), 72-81. http://www.tdjournal.itd.cnr.it/article/view/891
Dron, J. (in press) How Education Works: Teaching, Technology, and Technique, AU Press
Dubos, R. (1969). American Academy of Allergy 25th anniversary series: The spaceship earth. Journal of Allergy, 44(1), 1-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0021-8707(69)90042-2
Ellis, R. A., & Goodyear, P. (2016). Models of learning space: Integrating research on space, place and learning in higher education. Review of Education, 4(2), 149-191. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/rev3.3056
Farrelly, T., Costello, E., & Donlon, E. (2020). VLEs: A Metaphorical History from Sharks to Limpets. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1). https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.575 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.575
Garrison, D. R., & Baynton, M. (1987). Beyond Independence in Distance Education: The Concept of Control. American Journal of Distance Education, 1(3), 3-15. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08923648709526593
Giera, J., & Brown, A. (2004). The Costs and Risks of Open Source. Cambridge, MA: Forrester Research Inc.
Goel, A. K., & Polepeddi, L. (2019). Jill Watson: A virtual teaching assistant for online education. In C. Dede, J. Richards, & B. Saxberg (Eds.), (pp. 120-143). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351186193-7
Goertzel, B. (2014). Artificial general intelligence: concept, state of the art, and future prospects. Journal of Artificial General Intelligence, 5(1), 1-48. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/jagi-2014-0001
Goodyear, P., & Carvalho, L. (2019). The analysis of complex learning environments. In (pp. 49-65). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351252805-4
Greene, E. B. (1928). The relative effectiveness of lecture and individual reading as methods of college teaching. Genetic Psychology Monographs.
Hattie, J. (2013). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Taylor & Francis.
Hofstadter, D., & Sander, E. (2013). Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. Basic Books.
Johnson, N., Bates, T., Donovan, T., & Seaman, J. (2019). Tracking online education in Canadian universities and colleges: National survey of online and digital learning 2019 national report.
Kauffman, S. A. (2019). A World Beyond Physics: The Emergence and Evolution of Life. Oxford University Press.
Kelly, K. (2009). Triumph of the Default. http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2009/06/triumph_of_the.php
Keuning, H., Jeuring, J., & Heeren, B. (2018). A systematic literature review of automated feedback generation for programming exercises. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 19(1), 1-43. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3231711
Kruchten, P., Nord, R. L., & Ozkaya, I. (2012). Technical debt: From metaphor to theory and practice. Ieee software, 29(6), 18-21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/MS.2012.167
Kohn, A. (2011). The case against grades. Educational Leadership, 69(3), 28-33.
Kohn, A. (2015). Four Reasons to Worry About “Personalized Learning”. http://www.alfiekohn.org/blogs/personalized/
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by (Kindle ed.). Chicago.
Lane, D. C., & Good, C. (2019). OERu’s delivery model for changing times: An Open Source NGDLE. In World Conference on Online Learning, Dublin, Ireland.
Lunenberg, M., Korthagen, F., & Swennen, A. (2007). The teacher educator as a role model. Teaching and teacher education, 23(5), 586-601. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2006.11.001
Martin, F., Chen, Y., Moore, R. L., & Westine, C. D. (2020). Systematic review of adaptive learning research designs, context, strategies, and technologies from 2009 to 2018. Educational Technology Research and Development, 68(4), 1903-1929. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-020-09793-2
Martindale, T., & Dowdy, M. (2010). Personal learning environments. Emerging technologies in distance education, 177, 193.
O’Neill, R.V., DeAngelis, D.L, Waide, J. B., & Allen, T. F. H. (1986). A Hierarchical Concept of Ecosystems. Princeton University Press.
Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. Denver, Colorado, 28. https://student.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~cs492/papers/neil-postman–five-things.html
Protopsaltis, S., & Baum, S. (2019). Does Online Education Live Up to its Promise? A Look at the Evidence and Implications for Federal Policy.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Publications. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1521/978.14625/28806
Salas, C. R., Minakata, K., & Kelemen, W. L. (2011). Walking before study enhances free recall but not judgement-of-learning magnitude. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 23(4), 507-513. https://doi.org/10.1080/20445911.2011.532207 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20445911.2011.532207
Skulmowski, A., & Rey, G. D. (2017). Bodily Effort Enhances Learning and Metacognition: Investigating the Relation Between Physical Effort and Cognition Using Dual-Process Models of Embodiment. Adv Cogn Psychol, 13(1), 3-10. https://doi.org/10.5709/acp-0202-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5709/acp-0202-9
Tichavsky, L. P., Hunt, A. N., Driscoll, A., & Jicha, K. (2015). “It’s Just Nice Having a Real Teacher”: Student Perceptions of Online versus Face-to-Face Instruction. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9:2. http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/ij-sotl/vol9/iss2/2/ DOI: https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2015.090202
Verbert, K., Duval, E., Klerkx, J., Govaerts, S., & Santos, J. L. (2013). Learning analytics dashboard applications. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10), 1500-1509. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764213479363
Weller, M. (2009). Using learning environments as a metaphor for educational change. On the Horizon, 17(3), 181-189. https://doi.org/10.1108/10748120910993204 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/10748120910993204
Wilson, S. (2008). Patterns of personal learning environments. Interactive learning environments, 16(1), 17-34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820701772660
Wilson, S., Sharples, P., & Griffiths, D. (2008). Distributing education services to personal and institutional systems using Widgets. In Proc. Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments-1st Workshop MUPPLE 8 (pp. 25-33).
Yen, C.-J., Tu, C.-H., Sujo-Montes, L. E., Harati, H., & Rodas, C. R. (2019). Using personal learning environment (PLE) management to support digital lifelong learning. International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design (IJOPCD), 9(3), 13-31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/IJOPCD.2019070102
Zhang, L., Carter Jr, R. A., Qian, X., Yang, S., Rujimora, J., & Wen, S. (2022). Academia’s responses to crisis: A bibliometric analysis of literature on online learning in higher education during COVID‐19. British Journal of Educational Technology, 53(3), 620-646. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.13191
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Jon Dron
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors contributing to the OTESSA Journal agree to release their articles under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. This licence allows this work to be copied, distributed, remixed, transformed, and built upon for any purpose provided that appropriate attribution is given, a link is provided to the license, and changes made were indicated.
Authors retain copyright of their work and grant the OTESSA Journal right of first publication.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in the OTESSA Journal.