Transitioning across networked, workplace and educational boundaries: chronotopic movements and cultural adaptations

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This chapter focuses on transitions across educational and workplace, physical and online settings, for those on professional undergraduate programmes where continual movements between work-based placements and university environments are commonplace. The chapter introduces the idea of chronotopic movements, drawing on Bakhtin’s (1981) concept of a chronotope or space:time configuration. Emphasising chronotopic movements help to show that chronotopes are not isolated but intersect, conflict and generate new forms. By analysing how students in higher education work across different settings and time frames through this perspective of chronotopes, we show their influence on the process of transition, how they can disrupt learning across boundaries and how they can be mobilised as resources to help solve boundary-related problems. We draw on findings from a study of third year medical students on clinical placements,working across clinical and educational settings. Six students created video diaries to document their use of digital technologies for studying across the different settings in which they worked. Chronotopic movements were analysed in relation to access, management of resources, creating and repurposing artefacts and cultural transitions and adaptations. Networked learning environments assisted in managing the fluidity and changes in space and time across different clinical and educational cultures and contexts and helped students adapt to and make sense of different spaces and create their own hybrid ‘places’. We conclude that the dynamics of fluid, shifting boundaries of space and time are amongst the key changes that networked environments and the Internet have made possible for the practices of working and studying in higher education. Chronotopes can act as resources for mobilizing human agency and supporting students’ sense making when transitioning between contexts and cultures. Yet they also present their own challenges as the possibilities of online:offline, multi spatio-temporal working places increase and not all such transformations are positive for learners. Investigating transitions through analyses of chronotopic movements can reveal how spatiality and temporality frame our actions including the hidden tensions and cultural challenges when learning and studying across contexts, making this a rich seam for further research and investigation of higher education student learning and experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch, Boundaries and Policy in Networked Learning
EditorsThomas Ryberg, Christine Sinclair, Sian Bayne, Maarten de Laat
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages124
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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