Situated E-Learning: Empowerment and Barriers to Identity Changes

Situated E-Learning: Empowerment and Barriers to Identity Changes

Anne Adams (Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1915-9.ch012
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E-learning can free us from bound concepts of who we are. However, our digital identities relate back to varied real world situations within which we live. Situated implications of identity changes are frequently not understood by e-learning systems. This chapter provides a detailed review of situated learning concepts and identity reformation accounts within five case-study situations (i.e. within healthcare, prisons, developing worlds, field based, and virtual worlds) with varied e-learning technologies (i.e. Web2, virtual learning environments, mobile, tabletops1, and virtual worlds). Issues of situated identity, practices, and the impact on real world contexts are reviewed. Findings identify that e-learning systems must be designed to support variations in situations, student awareness, and reflection around implications of identity reformation. A theory and practice approach supports understanding e-learning impacts and future dilemmas. The chapter also provides a review on issues of support and coping mechanisms for impacts from situated learning identity changes.
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2. Introduction

Different approaches to e-learning have the potential to free us from predefined concepts of who we are. Often these forms of real world identity constructions are based around restrictions imposed by our physical, situational and social context. Prisoners are literally confined to identity stereotypes imposed by the institutions within which they are incarcerated. Disabled and disadvantaged students can be trapped in static concepts of themselves by their physical and financial circumstances. Work pressures can also limit our ability to perceive of ourselves beyond the limits of our current post. Education has the potential to change not only concepts of our own identity but also how others perceive us. E-learning, in particular can enable this transformation through its ability to take the learning to the students situation.

The tools, technologies and practices associated with e-learning can provide greater access to education at a distance wherever we are and whenever we want. These resources also provide potential students with an opportunity to recreate their real world identity through supported staged exploration and development of their digital identities. This is a difficult process for a student to undergo as they are required to balance and merge multiple digital identities with their real world identities whilst all are in constant flux through the learning process. The development requires a constant interplay between online identities and real world identities within different situations. It must also be understood that these developmental changes are often impacted by real world situated and sociocultural barriers to the transformative power of learning. Without additional situated support, concerning digital impacts on real world identity reformation, students can feel isolated from the educational process and the identity changes needed to empower their real world identity. This chapter will review several reported situated e-learning case-studies that the author has investigated with a specific reflection on the concepts of identity reformation. It is hoped that through reflection of these case-studies a deeper understanding of the impact of digital identities on situated real world identities will ensue.

This chapter will help those in e-learning and beyond:

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