Higher education as a visual practice: Seeing through the virtual learning environment

  • Bayne S
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As certain areas of practice in higher education shift online, the work of learners and teachers increasingly takes place within the domain of the image. The ‘digital turn’ we are experiencing, both in higher education and in the wider culture, accompanies an ‘iconic turn’ in which the logic of the image as it emerges on our screens has a growing influence over our working, thinking and learning practices. Visuality gains a new urgency as we move further into the digital age. This paper considers and critiques the form of visuality which increasingly mediates between pedagogy in higher education and digital space – the interface of the virtual learning environment or VLE. If the spatial organisation and visuality of the screen both represents and creates a value system and an ontology, what social and pedagogical practices does the VLE interface reflect, inform and inscribe? What meanings does it produce? What version of pedagogy does it ‘make visible’, and what alternatives does it blind us to?

Author-supplied keywords

  • E-learning
  • Image
  • Interface
  • Semiotics
  • VLE
  • Visuality

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  • Sian Bayne

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