Breakthroughs, Breakdowns, and Some Productive Pedagogical Paradoxes of Virtual Learning

Breakthroughs, Breakdowns, and Some Productive Pedagogical Paradoxes of Virtual Learning

Vachel Miller (Appalachian State University, USA) and Kelly Clark-Keefe (Appalachian State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-985-9.ch010


Learning sites in higher education have become more diffuse, diverse, and tangled. As instructors, we can hybridize our encounters with students, meeting them one week in class; another week, in virtual space. Our initial experimentation with hybrid learning has left us face-to-face with breakthroughs, break-downs, and deep pedagogical dillemmas. In this chapter, we voice our emergent sensibilities about the transformative potential—both for our students and ourselves—of inhabiting a hybrid learning environment. Our discussion is based on our observations of doctoral students’ interaction and engagement on-line, as well as our own embodied sensitivities about how we, as instructors, experience ourselves and our work in the pedagogical movement between our classrooms and virtual space.
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Warning: Transformative Learning Ahead

Our leadership course was not designed for direct application to the practical challenges that college and school administrators face. We aimed to bring students into another space behind and underneath their “day to day” work as leaders. We hoped that our students would encounter the course as a space of transformative learning in which they could reflect on the unexamined assumptions and frameworks they use to navigate their work and thus develop more inclusive, sophisticated perspectives. Such critical reflection on taken-for-granted ways of making meaning is the heart of transformative learning (Mezirow, 2000). Indeed, transformative learning is said to occur when learners experience a shift in ways of interpreting the world (Cercone, 2008) that leads to greater clarity and openness.

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