Helen Walker

I had some inclination as to what I might find when I embarked on this week’s task to search for my own online tracks and traces. Having previously been a senior leader in a secondary school, I occasionally Googled myself to check that all was well. I used to be in the local media a lot as I was the lead on a high profile new build project; however, that presence is no longer in the present and I wasn’t sure if those echoes and traces of my past role would remain.  In recent years I have adopted a coward’s stance when it comes to social media, so I wasn’t entirely sure about what confusions, absences or presence I might find.

The majority of the first page of the Google search was as expected. I knew about Helen Walker the actress and her car wreck…

Helen Walker

However, as I scrolled down the page, I was surprised to see my face:

First page of Google - bottom of page

This was a link to my one and only Google+ post, made earlier this year:


I know that Google are likely to promote posts from Google+ but it was really interesting to see that minor networking activity could result in such presence, especially as I didn’t get to one of my curated personae until page 4 of the Google search; I’m the second one from the bottom in this screen grab:

Finally my work

Clicking through on the Facebook and Linkedin links on this first page yielded the sort of results I would have expected; as these sites know it is me, I appear at the top of the results.


Linkedin - top 25 profiles

As for the rest of the Helen Walkers out there, they seem to be a very studious bunch, which is useful to me; I’d be happy to be confused with Dr. Helen Walker or to be thought of as an astronomer. If there is identity conflation and confusion, the other Helen Walkers aren’t letting the side down:


I had a play with some of the other search tools which were recommended to us. QuillConnect yielded some fascinating information about my Twitter story:


I found the information about my followers particularly enlightening; as I consider how I can build a more effective online presence, it’s good to know who is ‘influential’ so that my efforts can, perhaps, be more targeted:


It was also heartening to find out that our micro-network is a positive one:


I tried Wolfram Alpha but got a repeated error message:

WolframKlout was interesting though. Klout claims to measure influence based on your activity, connections, etc. across a range of social media sites. I tried it first with Facebook and got a rating of 10/100 (apparently the average is 40):


This, however, didn’t concern me too much as Facebook is very much a personal medium. I treat all my posts with caution (as though I was standing in the middle of my town pronouncing forth with a megaphone) but I don’t use my personal page for professional networking. The Twitter result, when it comes though in 24 hours, will be of greater interest as I see that as my professional feed. I’ll be interested to see what Klout advises in terms of building a presence; I have some concerns that it may just be a clever way to get me to distribute spam.

Given my sense of guilt about my own control of my social media presence, I was relieved by what I uncovered in my searching; my presence wasn’t large but nor was it negative. I found little that was historical and nothing created by anyone other than me. What I did find was recognisable as ‘me’; I didn’t feel the sense of disconnect or disjunct which Clara, Marshall and Nicola discussed. It will be interesting to repeat some of these activities in a few months time to see what impact my efforts to reinvigorate my social media are having.

Personae Paralysis

mediaThe task this week required us to search for our own online tracks and traces. As my primary feeling about my social media presence is guilt about not effectively maintaining it, I was worried about what I might find. Working as an edtech consultant, my professional life is fragmented: I work as a contractor for a number of different companies as well as running a number of my own. This complicates the construction and maintenance of my online personae: I work in different roles, for different companies, in different places. I am acutely conscious of the convergence of these professional roles when, for example, I update LinkedIn: might my followers be confused about who I work for or what I do? This nervousness around what Meyrowitz (quoted in boyd, 2014, p.31) terms ‘collapsed contexts’ has resulted in a form of social media inertia where I have simply avoided the effective creation and curation of both my ‘formal’ and ‘networked’ selfs (Barbour and Mitchell, 2012). As boyd notes, “the ability to understand how context, audience and identity intersect is one of the central challenges people face in learning how to navigate social media.” (p.30). This challenge has resulted in a form of paralysis for me: I created a ‘formal’ online presence on LinkedIn some time ago and left it at that.

This week’s readings and activities have proved to be a call to action. Ignoring my presence, ignoring the need to develop a professional persona is not an option if I want to maintain professional credibility. As Turkle notes (quoted in boyd, 2014, p. 36), people who went online had to consciously create their digital presence. My presence is currently weak and outdated. Importantly, the lack of busy-ness on my social media profiles indicates (erroneously) a lack of busy-ness in my professional life. I am not effectively engaging in what Goffman (cited in boyd, 2014, p.47) terms ‘impression management’ and the impression ‘given off’ is one of inactivity.

As I have noted previously, online identity creation is about words; as Sundén states, creating a digital persona is about ‘people typing themselves into being’ (quoted in boyd, 2012, p.37). Stearn’s point is similar ‘ communicators must consciously re present themselves online.’ (quoted in Barbour and Mitchell, 2012).

So, this week I have:

However, I’m competing in an arena where my peers are actively creating impressive impressions of themselves and their work. So, for me, it’s now not enough to simply ‘do’; I have to show and tell.

boyd. d. (2014). Identity: why do teens seem so strange online. It’s Complicated: the social lives of Networked Teens, pp. 54-76 Available (full ebook text) from: http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf
Ronson, J. (2015) How one stupid tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s Life. New York Times, 12th February 2015. Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html
Barbour, K.  and Marshall, D.  (2012) The academic online: constructing persona through the www.  First Monday, 17(9) [Online].  Available fromhttp://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3969/3292

SL Macbeth

When I first started teaching English years ago, Kartouche was available in my school. This was a virtual environment which allowed you to construct scenes from various Shakespeare plays and control the characters within them, manipulating their voices and their actions. It was clunky and difficult to use and the students didn’t really enjoy working with it; the UI was difficult, at times impenetrable. The product’s still around but it appears to have moved away from its Shakespearean focus.

Although Kartouche wasn’t a successful execution of a virtual, interactive Shakespearean environment, I have always liked the concept of using VWs to teach English. When I was a teenager, Shakespeare only came alive for me when I finally made it to the theatre to see King Lear. Film adaptations get close but  I think it would be interesting to explore whether VWs get closer to evoking a sense of immersion within the action of the play.

I decided to see if such environments were available in Second Life.

Googling brought me to the Metaverse Shakespeare Company (previously the SL Shakespeare Company) which looked wonderful. They staged virtual performances of Shakespeare’s plays within an in-world Globe Theatre.


However, further searching revealed that the company had folded due to funding issues and their virtual Globe no longer ‘existed’.

Gone Globe

What a shame that virtual realities are affected by real-world economics.

I eventually found Macbeth, a space inspired by and evocative of the play. It’s an exploratory world, rich in ambient sounds and imagery; quotes from the play whirl around the space, snatches of songs are heard. Upon arrival, you find yourself above the witches’ cauldron and the words of their spell can be heard and seen.

Arrival Macbeth._001

It’s a bleak space to arrive in and it is always night – even if you adjust the time of day within SL. Walking away from the cauldron, I felt a sense of tension. I know the play, its horrors and its violence, and I was concerned about what I might find. The space was coherent in terms of mood: it was dark and echoed the tones of the tragedy throughout.

Arrival Macbeth._007

Arrival Macbeth._003
Useless boxes
Landing not allowed

My first visit threw up some anomalies within the space. There were some boxes which
didn’t appear to do anything and a modern building which was definitely not in the original play; I later realised that this was located on a nearby island onto which I wasn’t permitted to land. Exploration of this space by secondary age pupils would require careful scaffolding and direction: the teacher would need to be an effective tour-guide.

I also found some interesting learning ‘artefacts’ within this domain. Leather-bound copies of the play were scattered around the space and, when opened, presented me with a number of tasks and activities to do ‘in-world’ and ‘out of world’.

Macbeth resource

In certain spaces I was encouraged to interact with the objects and in others, my actions invoked responses: when I sat on the throne, for example, there was cheering which quickly gave way to sobbing.

Touch the objects * Listen to the soundscape * What do you notice? * What can you hear?

It is an evocative space filled with shadows, ghostly figures and hints of chaos.


When I discovered the dagger, I quickly found myself in the ‘Chamber of Blood’ and was asked to think about what it felt like to be in this space but also to reflect on the particular SL experience of what it felt like to lose control of my avatar.

chamber of blood

There are also playful and engaging  moments of accidental agency; by mistake I sat on a crow and ended up flying in the night sky.


SL Macbeth offers a virtual environment where you could explore the play with students; it is by no means a ‘complete’ space – I have yet to discover the banquet or Birnam Wood – but it is consistent in its rendering of the atmosphere of threat which pervades Macbeth.


It would be an interesting activity to take the students there and explore the micro spaces, discussing with learners, what happened here, who is this and who says this? It also offers a rich space for (re)enactment, with the students’ avatars fulfilling the roles of the characters within Macbeth. The students could, potentially, build within this domain, creating other scenes, vignettes and echoes of the events, themes and characters within the play.

It is, above all, a compelling and immersive place, suggesting the dark tones of the tragedy and offering a creative space within which to explore Macbeth.


A thought snippet: all by myself

It has been interesting to spend time alone within Second Life this week and to explore what my identity feels like when not ‘with’ ‘others’ within the space. Fornäs’ notion of ‘identity-producing interactions’ (Fornäs et al. 2002, p.34) suggests, on first reading, that my virtual identity is heightened when interacting with other avatars within the space. However, the whole of Second Life is a construct, a space designed for avatar interactions and thus identity-producing.

My first solo journey was to Sparta where I was looking for the God of War of the treasure hunt. I was relieved to find that the space was deserted – of avatars – but I was in a constructed space filled with a sense of human agency and humour (more anatomically correct ‘bits’ had been added to the statues in the virtual museum for example). I was interacting with others, with the objects they had placed there and with the spaces they had created.


My second journey was to a space created in response to Macbeth. I have detailed information about this journey here.

The shivers of teleportation

Navarathna’s shot film. ‘A journey into the metaverse’ playfully and powerfully explores the concept of identity and the supposed boundaries between the ‘real’ self and the ‘virtual’ self, between the real world and the virtual world. It offers a response to Boellstorff’s question, ‘Can the avatar speak?’ (Boellstorff, 2008, p. 149). The narrative focuses on an avatar, abandoned by his creator in Second Life who sets out to find his ‘God’. The avatar initially becomes the master but the film real and virtualexplores how boundaries between virtual and real identities are mutable and shifting; the notion of separation is a false construct and, for the avatar/real ‘self’, ‘chance, reality and virtuality (lose) all sense of definition’. The film blends real world and virtual world footage, further blurring the sense of boundaries between the two domains.

Sannyasin: a religious ascetic who has renounced the world by performing his own funeral and abandoning all claims to social or family standing

Set in part in India, the film draws some interesting parallels between the fate of the central avatar/self and the Sannyasin, who renounce the material world. Further, meditation, and its power to ‘free the mind and lose ego’ is also referenced. Navarathna thereby alludes to the key concept of what our smeditationelf, our identity is. Where does it lie? What is it? Is virtuality a way of accessing our true, more authentic self? Is the self without place, without fixity, a concept explored by Dennett. In drawing parallels with meditation which requires us to separate from thought, from ego and develop a different sense of what it is to ‘be’, Navarathna posits exploration and immersion within the virtual is also ‘freeing’ – our self can ‘slip through the crack.’

Boellstorff, T. (2008). Personhood. In Coming of Age in Second Life (pp. 118-150). Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Me, myself and I

This week we have again been exploring notions and experiences of identity through immersion within Second Life. I have spent more time ‘there’ this week: engaging in the treasure hunt, exploring learning spaces, having a ‘voice’ tutorial and dancing. The strong sense of presence I experienced in Week 7  has been consolidated and extended this week through further virtual adventuring and through more interactions in Holyrood Park. Although I don’t identify with the physicality of my avatar (I haven’t yet got round to altering ‘her’) I do have a strong sense of being present through her: for example, I visited Echo Beach to test my sound and, when a large, muscular, scantily-clad avatar also arrived, I quickly left, feeling a sense of threat and inappropriateness. Marshall/Pancha’s refrain ‘it’s only pixels’ rang in my virtual/metaphorical ears as I teleported out. I did enjoy dancing later that day though and truly felt a sense of ‘presence enacting itself as an embodied activity’ (Taylor, 2002, p.44), an embodiment powerfully linked to vision (M. White, 2006)’ (quoted in Boellstorff, 2008 p.134) and, in this instance, sound (George Benson…)

Silverback's new avatar
Silverback’s new avatar

We explored this sense of connectedness with our avatars further in Thursday night’s tutorial. Paul/Silverback appeared as a Gorilla: he had spent 600 lindens (£4) on this as he had such a strong reaction against the set of default avatars which Second Life offers. He mentioned that, when his avatar initially appeared, he felt like he was ‘lying’ and so was willing to invest real money to change his virtual self. He had invested in  his ‘projective’ identity, projecting his own ‘values and desires onto the virtual character’ (Gee, 2003, p.55) and seeing ‘the virtual character as (his) own project in the making’ (ibid, p.55). As Boellstorff notes, avatars are ‘the modality through which residents experienced virtual selfhood’ (2008, p.129); if I end up spending more time in Second life beyond this week, I too will invest more in developing my avatar and, probably, changing its sex.

Like all of our learning on the course so far, because we are engaged with the spaces we are reading about and exploring, loop input methodologies were at play this week. This was strongly felt when our tutor Rory/Algernon Twang.asked us to explore Gee’s concept of virtual spaces offering a more risk-free environment: a ‘psychosocial moratorium’ (p.67). In the discussion which followed, I highlighted that I felt that our interactions within this virtual world and in our other tutorials felt more risky that real-life more sustained interactions as they were irregular and therefore more imbued with a sense of import. This was, I felt, especially true where voice was concerned as this felt more like the ‘real’ me spilling into the carefully curated, virtual ‘me’. Cultivating a community of inquiry through ordered and controlled discussion forums is different to ‘exposing’ a facet of one’s identity through voice. I certainly feel more comfortable, as I have touched on before, with an identity constructed from text. As the virtual opiniontator showed, I wasn’t the only one to feel like this. The gorilla disagreed.

Voice tutorial_009

This is of real interest to me at the moment as I am currently devising and delivering a sequence of webinars for teachers at the schools I work with. They will be asked to interact with me and with each other via voice through Skype for Business and I will now be attuned to how unsettling this can potentially be. To have a facet of yourself, of your identity disembodied can be disconcerting, even if it is re-embodied within an avatar.

Boellstorff, T. (2008). Personhood. In Coming of Age in Second Life (pp. 118-150). Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Gee, J. P. (2003). Learning and Identity: What does it mean to be half-elf? In What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (pp. 51-71). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

I like the way you MUVE

We had our tutorial this week within Second Life (SL) a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE). Prior to the tutorial, we had an orientation session and undertook some key readings by Warburton (2009) and Dawley and Deede (2014).

Warburton’s exploration of the ‘profoundly immersive experience’ of SL and his assertion that one has ‘a feeling of being there and a strong sense of co-presence when other avatars are present’ (p.419) echoed my experience within the orientation session. I felt like I was an extension of myself (p.417) and experienced a stronger sense of being ‘with’ my peers and my tutors than I have in previous weeks via the other media we have explored. As Warburton notes, co-presence is a central tenet in Garrison and Anderson’s definition of successful learning transactions within a community of inquiry. The tutor ‘Frank’ asked us at one point during the orientation session to follow him to one of the tutorial spaces; the sense of following him and walking next to my colleagues enhanced and extended my sense of shared presence.

The tutorial session started in the same way as the orientation session: we gathered near the fountain and there was time for trouble-shooting questions and casual discussion. Dolly Mix taught ‘me’ how to dance and I chatted one-to-one with Sarah Roguish about the readings.

We then moved to the tutorial space and, sitting around the camp-fire, we began to discuss the readings.


Superficially, this IM chat discussion could be argued to have  offered the ‘same’ experience as the chat in Skype however it did feel different; the mood and tone was more relaxed. This might be because we all ‘know’ each other a little better now or maybe it was because of the SL environment and the more ‘natural’ modes of interactions; as Warburton notes, ‘avatars behaved very much like their real-world counterparts’ (p.419).


The playfulness of the media, the ability to add visual gags – such as Dolly Mix eating her popcorn throughout the tutorial – all helped to make this environment one which was less formal and more absorbing; I was focused and present throughout.

As Warburton outlines, some of the many affordances of SL include ‘extended and rich interactions’, ‘immersion’ and ‘community presence’. My experience of what Dawley and Dede term ‘situated embodiment’ (p.728) meant that I felt psychologically present within the discussion and within the space.

Warburton, S. (2009). Second Life in higher education: Assessing the potential for and the barriers to deploying virtual worlds in learning and teaching. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(3), 414-426.
Dawley, L., & Dede. C. (2014). Situated learning in virtual worlds and immersive simulations. In J.M. Spector, M.D Merrill, J. Elen, & M.J. Bishop (Eds.), The Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology (4th ed.). New York: Springer.

The Theatre of Space…continued

Last week, I set up a collaborative writing exercise in Moodle. Below is the result; I think Susie’s contribution would be a more fitting end to the story but I do like Andy’s bathetic and disconnected contribution!

I think that this exercise was successful to a degree; a narrative was produced and the students reflected on and incorporated some of the ideas which we have been exploring in recent weeks.

The narrative doesn’t succeed as a story however; there is a lack of cohesion and development after the first few entries. I think more scaffolding from me as a teacher might help: some comments and suggestions after each entry about where the story might go next and what might be incorporated.

I’d be interested to explore the potential for other spaces and media to support collaborative narratives: would more visual media afford a richer narrative stream? Could video ‘pass-the-baton’ work as well for the production of stories as it has for Karen’s space/mini-bio task? How about Second Life as a space to generate stories, not just characters and settings? As a former English teacher, such opportunities and possibilities are exciting and offer the potential for plurivocal, multimedia, rich and complex narratives for students to engage with and produce.

The Theatre of Space: a Collaborative Tale

Picture of Karen Barns
Re: The Theatre of Space…
by Karen Barns – Sunday, 1 November 2015, 8:23 PM

Elegant evening gowns swept along the theatre aisles as the people made their way excitedly to their seats, ushered along the corridors by the flickering gaslights. Their chatter rose to the vaulted ceiling and echoed around the theatre walls. They had been chosen, Professor Marcello had said. Come tomorrow night you will  be shown! I will show you how the world will be! A world without walls, where we communicate as quickly as our thoughts can travel, and printed words will hang on clouds in the air. You will be amazed!

The tuning violins slowed as the pianist sat down at his instrument with an exuberant flourish of his coat tails. His hands poised dramatically above the keys as the curtains slowly opened.

At the top of the stairs, a tall, ashen man sat quietly in the red velvet chair, his beady eyes slightly squinting against the heavy cigar smoke which hung in the air. He listened to the chatter dim as Professor Marcello emerged from the darkness of the stage, holding a small black box as tenderly as a fragile butterfly. And with a deep slow breath, the man rose to his feet.

Picture of Sarah Rogerson
Re: The Theatre of Space…
by Sarah Rogerson – Monday, 2 November 2015, 8:43 AM

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Rhizome’ said the man. The curtains opened and the audience gasped. A sense of fear and dread filled the room and the tall, ashen man retreated. The rhizome stood on the stage, powerful and omnipresent, tenticles twitched and flailed simultaneously. The first few rows of the audience were sslowly getting covered in rhizome goo. The rhizome opened her mouth to speak and a slow whine came out of all of her mouthes as she growled: ‘I am region, I am network, I am institution, I am fire.’ The rhizome stopped and a tentacle flew back to the furthest row in the audience where….

 Picture of Paul Townsend
Re: The Theatre of Space…
by Paul Townsend – Tuesday, 3 November 2015, 9:02 PM

…stood the diminutive space-time detective, Alacratisa. A wry smile crossed her face, “Gotcha Root Face” see intoned, and pressed the shimmering virtual button at her fingertip.

The beautiful surroundings of the theatre wobbled and then collapsed into a pile of pixels which blew away, as sand in a storm. The dilapidated interior of the antiquated theatre stood in their place. The musty air filled Alacratisa’s nostrils as the code-space implants withdrew their steely tentacles from her elven nose. She turned to Hamish’s avatar, “Well, professor McRae, there’s your event. The smooth surface of the fabric underwent catastrophic corruption when the Rhizome interfered with the natural order. The striations are there for all to see.”

“Hum,” mused erudite tutor in his Scottish brogue, “but the theatre’s still so beautiful.”

  Susie Greig
Re: The Theatre of Space…
by Susie Greig – Thursday, 5 November 2015, 9:23 PM

Just then the the gaslights began to splutter. Then BANG! Stars burst from first one and then the next. Green swirls and stars filled the Theatre. Reflecting from the many ornate surfaces. All at once the the fireworks burst forth from every fitting. Professor McRae gasped in awe – “I almost can’t believe this is real life”.

Down Under Education
Re: The Theatre of Space…
by Andy Hynds – Friday, 6 November 2015, 12:52 AM

The damp air clung to my clothes as I shuffled through the dark.  The crunching underfoot, undermined my feeling of security.  Whispers of  wind, caressed my face, as I walked closer to the edge of the stairway.  As the cold reached my legs, I could feel the hairs rising on my neck.  In the distance a flickering faint light drew my attention,  I walked to it, feeling uncomfortable yet drawn to the light.  I walked more surefooted as my need to reach the light became more urgent.  At last I reached the goal and the gentle running of water could be heard inside, Feeling for the entrance I grasped the handle and pushed it, applying more  pressure to open the door, it moved.  Suddenly surrounded, and bathed in white light I relaxed, and breathed easy, I had found the toilet…

My double Second Life

I joined Second Life last Saturday as ‘MollyBloom7’. It was an isolating and unsettling experience. I found ‘myself’/my avatar on a virtual beach, the sound of waves was unexpected, as was the presence of other avatars around me. I was reminded of ‘Lost’.

The interface was confusing at first and I didn’t know what to do or how to interact with the ‘Others’ on the shore. It was not a pleasant birth; I would have preferred to have been born into a closed white space where I could have learned how to interact before deciding to go out and join my Second Life.

Via Moodle, I followed the link to Holyrood Park/Vue South and felt immediately different. There was nobody there but that was fine. The space felt structured and familiar; the virtual (v.) objects helped: there was a v.noticeboard, a v.bench, a v.fountain: familiar items which suggested civilisation and which connoted safe public places. The sound of the fountain was also calming, much more so than the waves on a bleak beach. There was a cat there too – Nora.  Given my own Joycean name choice, this felt reassuring and serendipitous. A gift had also been left for me – a welcome pack: I put on the t-shirt which was in it. This was an agreeable and ordered place to ‘be’.

Molly Bloom in Holyrood Park

Before the orientation session the following day, I decided to change my avatar; having read about harassment in SL, I decided that I wanted to adopt a gender-neutral name and a male avatar. Like others in the group, I was also underwhelmed by the limited, limiting and sexualised range of female avatars.

second life sexism

So Ariel McBloom was – almost – born. Unfortunately, he appeared only as red mist which wouldn’t form or bake. So I spent the session – somewhat appropriately – as a disembodied swirl of crimson cloud.

The orientation was such good fun. I was genuinely excited to see the others from the course arrive: a ragbag collection of monsters and weirdly adapted avatars: ‘misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!’*


We learned to fly, to take photos, to interact and to use the maps. Some others also went on to learn how to dance to. I found it an engaging, playful experience: I was fully present within the virtual arena. I was ‘there’.

This playfulness of SL is what has captivated me this week; I was surprised that some others didn’t respond in the same way:

What's the point

But a number of us did:


It will be interesting to see if we actually learn through play: I suspect that the ice-cream van full of treats which has arrived in Holyrood Park will have something to do with that:


*Romeo and Juliet, I.i.169


The Theatre of Space

This week’s task was challenging.  We were asked to extend and develop the metaphors we have been constructing and co-constructing into an educational resource or practice. We were also asked to explore an online environment to develop an educational activity. There was also the option to combine both activities.


I found the broad terms of the assignment paradoxically impeding: there was so much I could do I didn’t know where to start. This gave me an interesting insight into the seemingly contradictory impact that ‘free’ and ‘open’ tasks can have on our learners. Smooth is not necessarily always positive and striated spaces can be easier to navigate and work within.

There was also, I felt a deliberate contradiction within the task itself: last week we were indulging in creative extremes, developing complex and extended metaphors within open spaces and even, like Yoyu and Ruth, going freestyle and freehand. This week, we were asked to re-examine those and other encapsulating metaphors but within more constrained and restrictive environments: how could we focus the energies of the metaphors into ordered learning resources and approaches? And how could we potentially deploy Moodle and other learning spaces to develop our ideas and engage our peers as learners? We had to yoke the bacchanalian chaos of our metaphoric playfulness into the Apollonian arenas of striated learning spaces and environments.

Edwards (2014) gave me the prompt I needed to activate a new metaphor; in his examination of what considerations of spatial theories offer to our understanding and definitions of education, he posits:

‘This shifts attention from a focus on the cognito of the individual subject who learns about the world ‘out there’ to a notion of education as a gathering of agencies to experiment and act in the world – an actor-network’. (p.527).

This distinction, ‘between individuals learning about the world – a distancing – and collectives intervening in or learning as a way of being in or enacting the world – getting closer’ (p.527) gave me the notion of working within the linear and contained space of Moodle to offer learners an opportunity to act together on a learning stage. And so I developed the ‘Theatre of Space’.


By actively encouraging the plurivocal, multiplicities and the chaotic, there is the possibility of repurposing a striated space to take on some of the characteristics which are connoted by open spaces: ‘mobility, openness, cosmopolitanism and freedom’ (p.528). Further, if we accept Edwards’ notion that ‘education is association’ then encouraging dialogue, play and communication within a striated, closed space, we are offering ‘spatio-temporal ordering of mobilizing, mooring and boundary marking in the valuing and enacting of certain practices as educational’ (p.530). I am encouraging fellow actors to temporarily take to the stage and play their part in moving our shared story forward.

Karen has begun the story – quite brilliantly – and I hope that others will contribute. However, we’re moving into our new Second Lives soon so perhaps the spaces we have created over the last few weeks will soon be forgotten.



Edwards, R. (2014) Spatial theory in networked learning. Proceedings of the 9th international Networked Learning Conference, University of Edinburgh. Retrieved: 22 October 2015 from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2014/abstracts/pdf/edwards.pdf