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Personal Technologies as Masks: Issues of Persona and Identity in Learner Engagement and Professional Practice. Mark Johnson Claire Brierley University of Bolton. The Problem.

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Personal Technologies as Masks: Issues of Persona and Identity in Learner Engagement and Professional Practice

Mark Johnson

Claire Brierley

University of Bolton

the problem
The Problem
  • How to deliver a programme to instil Professional ethos, disposition, enculturation with computing students in a way which is manageable, sustainable, equitable in delivery and which in turn provides sustainable strategies and skills for learners to exploit beyond the course.
the traditional solution
The traditional solution
  • Work-based learning
    • Organisationally complex, doesn’t scale well
    • Much variety in the quality of learning experiences (for better or worse…)
    • Pedagogical scaffolding and intervention to support learner development sometimes difficult within work culture.
enculturation conversation practice and physical presence
Enculturation, Conversation, Practice and Physical Presence

“learning how to use different language registers (both spoken and written) in order to be understood by a particular individual or audience; learning that behaviour itself can be regarded as a form of non-verbal language which communicates in ways that are often more obvious to the receiver than they are to the sender “ (Bates)

To what extent is physical presence a requirement for professional enculturation?

To what extent does ‘professional practice’ (particularly in IT) entail physical presence?

To what extent can enculturation and learner development be achieved through virtual presence, and what pedagogical opportunities does it afford?

pedagogic strategy
Pedagogic Strategy
  • Privilege the teaching of personal strategies for the coordination and effective use of online tools over any content those tools might give access to.
  • Tools used:
    • Voice-over-IP (Skype) (personal interviews)
    • Feed aggregators (Netvibes, Firefox, Flock)
    • Coordination techniques (RSS, OPML, etc)
    • Wikis, Blogs
    • Discovery, coordination and participation in online communities (seeing online communities as learning opportunities)
  • Initial outcomes…
an online approach
An online approach
  • Manageability/scalability
  • Pedagogic intervention and scaffolding
  • Personal technologies not bounded by the institution, in the control of the individual
the instrumental dimension and the ple
The instrumental dimension and the PLE
  • Privileging tool usage over content delivery in line with PLE thinking
    • Technologies present barriers as well as opportunities
    • In eLearning, plethora of technologies creates new complexity for learners to manage (skills to use new tools, etc)
    • Computers afford opportunities to manage this complexity
      • Particularly through SOA
  • And more deeply…
    • Knowledge and action may not be separable
      • To know something may mean “to know how to act” (c.f. Gibson, Heidegger, Bhasar, Merlea-Ponty)
      • Important implications for the notion of ‘competency’…
the actions of learners with a ple
The actions of learners with a PLE
  • The learner performs two essential actions:
    • Those actions to maintain personal organisation
    • Those actions to maintain commitments to external agencies
  • These are inter-dependent
persona and identity



Persona and Identity



Personal Organisation


Presentation of ‘persona’:

Exchange of information with different communities of practice








persona identity and online communication
Persona, Identity and online communication
  • What is the difference between online enculturation and physical enculturation?

implications and questions
Implications and Questions
  • Persona and Social Commitments
    • It social interaction is mediated by technologies that afford greater control of persona, how does it impact on social commitment? (Flores)

Looser commitments  greater openness, opportunities

    • Does greater diversity of social commitment entail the need for technology to manage persona?
  • Questioning Barriers…
    • Competence, Knowledge…Action ??
    • Products and Processes
    • Work and Learning
    • Learning, Using, Living