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Open education as a 'heterotopia of desire'

Gourlay, L; (2015) Open education as a 'heterotopia of desire'. Learning, Media and Technology , 40 (3) pp. 310-327. 10.1080/17439884.2015.1029941. Green open access

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The movement towards ‘openness’ in education has tended to position itself as inherently democratising, radical, egalitarian and critical of powerful gatekeepers to learning. While ‘openness’ is often positioned as a critique, I will argue that its mainstream discourses – while appearing to oppose large-scale operations of power – in fact reinforce a fantasy of an all-powerful, panoptic institutional apparatus. The human subject is idealised as capable of generating higher order knowledge without recourse to expertise, a canon of knowledge or scaffolded development. This highlights an inherent contradiction between this movement and critical educational theory which opposes narratives of potential utopian futures, offering theoretical counterpositions and data which reveal diversity and complexity and resisting attempts at definition, typology and fixity. This argument will be advanced by referring to Gourlay and Oliver's one-year longitudinal qualitative multimodal journaling and interview study of student day-to-day entanglements with technologies in higher education, which was combined with a shorter study focused on academic staff engagement (see article for full text reference). Drawing on sociomaterial perspectives, I will conclude that allegedly ‘radical’ claims of the ‘openness’ movement in education may in fact serve to reinforce rather than challenge utopic thinking, fantasies of the human, and monolithic social categories, fixity and power, and as such may be seen as indicative of a ‘heterotopia of desire’.

Type: Article
Title: Open education as a 'heterotopia of desire'
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1029941
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2015.1029941
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Learning, Media and Technology on 30/04/2015, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17439884.2015.1029941.
Keywords: OERs, Latour, Foucault, heterotopias, sociomateriality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475566
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