Dr James Lamb 'Digital technologies and the configuration of learning space'
From Claire Sowton
It has never been more important to try and understand the complex relationship between digital technologies and those settings where learning takes place. The intimate relationship between technology and space has been seen and experienced this year as teaching rapidly shifted away from the lecture theatre and laboratory and instead found a home in those domestic corners where staff connected with students via screen. In the years prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic meanwhile, vast sums had been spent renovating the physical fabric of campuses across and beyond the UK, not least through the reconfiguration of spaces in order to exploit the potentialities of digital technology and pedagogy. At the same time, lecture capture and learning management systems have increasingly enabled students to access educational content beyond the classroom and outside the course timetable.
In this session, I argue that digital technologies profoundly affect educational spaces in ways that not only include, but extend beyond, the immediate interests of teaching and learning. Digital technologies enact particular disciplinary epistemologies and classroom power dynamics. They support the negotiation of new and impromptu learning environments beyond the campus. At the same time digital technologies, I will suggest, are complicit in the commodification and neoliberalisation of learning spaces and the educational practices that are performed in those settings. Brought together, these conditions call upon us to see digital technologies not merely as classroom tools or networked platforms for activity, but instead as actively shaping the performance of educational activity, space and the university itself.
To make this case, I draw on findings from my ESRC-funded PhD where I brought together sociomateriality, speculative research and sonic methods within a year-long ethnographic study set in the learning spaces associated with undergraduate programmes in architecture and history. I also build on work with colleagues from the Centre for Research in Digital Education where we investigated how online students conceptualise the university (Bayne, Gallagher & Lamb 2013), how learners use sound to negotiate space for learning (Gallagher, Lamb & Bayne 2016), how mobile technologies support opportunities for critically investigating the city (Lamb, Gallagher & Knox 2018) and a recent study that examined how lecture capture systems shape the spatial and topological arrangements of the classroom (Lamb & Ross, submitted for publication).
Although this session will refer to a number of higher education settings, it should be of interest to anyone who is interested in the ways that digital technologies profoundly affect the wide range of spaces where teaching and learning take place.
Bayne, S., Gallagher, M. and Lamb, J. (2013) Being ‘at’ University: the social topologies of distance students. Higher Education. DOI: 10.1007/s10734-013-9662-4
Gallagher, M., Lamb, J. & Bayne, S. (2016). The sonic spaces of online, distance learners. In L. Carvalho, P. Goodyear & M. de Laat (Eds.) Place-based Spaces for Networked Learning. Sydney: Routledge.
Lamb, J., Gallagher, M. & Knox, J. (2018) On an excursion through EC1: multimodality, ethnography and urban walking. Qualitative Research https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794118773294
Lamb, J. & Ross, J. (2020) Lecture capture, topology, and the spatial and temporal arrangements of the university. Submitted for publication.