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

3 Replies to “The Theatre of Space”

  1. Hello Helen,

    Yes having a lot of freedom in a learning space can be challenging. What an interesting way of doing something quite different with Moodle :). I guess there is still a strong structure though in that the story will have a narrative line even if the students get to decide what it is. Or could multiple students take the same story off in different directions? How would the discussion forum as a tool enable or constrain that? I hope more people do contribute!



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