During our recent event, The Mobile Campus: Imagining The Future of Distributed and Digital Education at The University of Edinburgh, Michael Gallagher and I invited our group of 24 students, researchers, learning technologists and lecturers to simultaneously take a photograph of their surroundings. Through this elicitation of images we hoped to get a sense of the different types of 'learning spaces' being occupied across the group, which spanned several campuses and continents.
Since the event, I have pulled the photographs together into a composite image:
Click on the composite image to enlarge
The images shown here could be analysed and then interpreted in a range of ways, however to start with I have attempted to group them under some broad themes: nature; institution; office; home; transit. Some of the photographs transcend these categories. It would also be easy to extend the number of themes.
Although the Mobile Campus event didn't set out to generate research data, it would still be interesting to subject the photographs to some kind of visual analysis. Thinking for instance about Gillian Rose's nine methods of visual analysis (2011), perhaps content analysis or a form of anthropological analysis might enable us to ask what the photographs tell us about the ways that the university is performed across a range of spaces and settings? Another line of inquiry would be to consider how the presence of overtly domestic spaces contrasts with the ways that online education is often (visually) portrayed as overtly sophisticated, clinical and high-tech. Looking across the images, plants outnumber computers while there is an even balance of 'homely' and 'officey' spaces.
The snapshots offer an interesting glimpse into the different ways that the campus is performed and how teachers and learners engage with the university. Without making any claim to generalisability based upon images from a single event, it is tempting to consider whether this approach might help us to think about pedagogy and the nature of the university itself, as education becomes increasingly mobile and dispersed.
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I am a Lecturer in Digital Education (Education Futures), within the Centre for Research in Digital Education at The University of Edinburgh.