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Heterotopia in Networked Learning: Beyond the Shadow Side of Participation in Learning Communities

Research output: Working paper

Publication date2010
Place of PublicationLancaster University
PublisherThe Department of Management Learning and Leadership
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameManagement Learning and Leadership Working Paper Series


As it has evolved, networked learning (NL) has come to emphasise the importance of the collaborative learning aspects and possibilities of online learning. The importance assumed for 'collaboration based' forms of participation within NL has almost become ubiquitous and is frequently seen as an unquestionable good aspect - a utopian view of participation which does not acknowledge the 'shadow side' of participation in learning. In the paper we examine some of the darker sides of collaborative participation which in its extreme manifestations can be experienced as normative and, we suggest, a form of tyranny of the dominant and which instead of having a liberating effect, reinforces a form of oppression and control. We argue this is most likely to be the case in the absence of reflexivity and understanding of different ways and approaches to participation. We go on to suggest an alternative and potentially more productive perspective which, after Foucault, is a heterotopian one. A perspective that acknowledges and assumes disruption and which disturbs our customary notion of ourselves. Participation in heterotopian spaces is disturbing and ambiguous, but it offers a space in which to imagine, to desire and act differently.