(Dis)embodiment in social media space

Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the role of embodiment in learning. It’s one of those neglected matters (there a lot of neglected matters when it comes to learning spaces – maybe I should rattle off a series of posts to include topics like friendship, presence, leaderful learning, graphic media…).

The key point from yesterday was how much can be conveyed through ‘being there’ – physical embodiment within an actual space. The subject of the discussion was the embodiment of dance and, by inference, intimacy and flow as a context for learning. I won’t steal the thunder of my colleague by explaining further here, but I hope to link to her work soon.

So, to this evening and the subject of disembodiment and presence in learning space. It’s a brief and quite tenuous observation about space. As this evening’s #LTHEchat got underway my colleague Sue Beckingham throws out a tweet in response to question 1. She’s on a train on her way back from the #OER17 conference. She says she’s on her way and hopes to contribute but is unsure that she will be able to contribute much. My reaction was, this comment has already said so much about learning space. Implicit in her comment was the value of the tweetchat space to her, the people taking part and the validity of the subject. Her physical embodiment on a train hurtling home at a hundred miles an hour late in the day reinforced her sense of ‘dis-placement’ (an idea I have been writing about recently for publication is the value of having no fixed abode or corporeal association). Like negative space in a painting, this simple articulation ‘answered the essential question’ of tonight’s tweetchat: “what do we mean by learning space?” Indeed, my concluding comment intended to summarise the discussion was that learning space is first and foremost a personal construct, but one that values the potential of a social discourse and co-operative experience. When people tell you why learning spaces matter to them, actual/physical/technical factors (e.g. Sue’s lack of reliable technical connectivity) are subjugated to affective and ontological matters. Individually and collectively, what matters is that we share a co-operative space full of good intent that gives succor to our own interest and thinking. Learning space is mutually validating. Sue’s (possible) lack of actual presence nevertheless resulted in her having a valued yet disembodied presence.  (Here, disembodiment is used to mean non-attendance in person, physically or digitally). I suppose the idea of ‘here in spirit’ captures what I’m getting at. Learning space can be thought of in quite intangible terms.

About amiddlet50

Educational developer working in academic innovation in higher education in the UK
This entry was posted in learning space, Possibilities. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to (Dis)embodiment in social media space

  1. Interesting points raised here. So an embodied presence (person in a physical learning space) could transgress from being engaged to disengaged temporarily (looks out the window, check the phone, chats to a peer) and also for extended periods (disinterest, lack of understanding).

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