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A social semiotic account of (mobile) learning AERA - San Diego, 13-17 April 2009 Elisabetta Adami - University of Verona Gunther Kress - Institute of.

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Presentation on theme: "A social semiotic account of (mobile) learning AERA - San Diego, 13-17 April 2009 Elisabetta Adami - University of Verona Gunther Kress - Institute of."— Presentation transcript:

1 A social semiotic account of (mobile) learning AERA - San Diego, April 2009 Elisabetta Adami - University of Verona Gunther Kress - Institute of Education London

2 Questions motivating the study to what extent can a theory of communication explain (conceptions of) learning? to what extent can a theory of meaning (-making) underpin conceptions of learning? to what extent do mobile devices reconfigure (conditions of) learning?

3 Assumptions Learning: the transformative engagement with an aspect of the world which is the focus of attention of an individual; on the basis of principles brought by her or him to that engagement; leading to a transformation of the individual’s semiotic/conceptual resources Affordances = representational constraints and possibilities, types of representations fostered and hindered by a given medium, both materially and socially (Kress & van Leeuwen, 1996/2006). The affordances of any technology shape ways in which we communicate and in which we make meaning about ourselves and the world -> affordances shape the way we learn Medium Affordances -> background/foregrounded skills for its use

4 Social semiotic analysis of Smartphones Affordances of: – Hardware design – Software design – Functionalities Habitus Skills Implications for education

5 Hardware/Software design Primacy: Visual output Navigational over textual input Menu-based semiotics Content generation and text creation: Representation-as-selection (inter)activity = navigation/selection among options

6 Functionalities: Imaging Immediacy, real-time, quantity Representing (everyday) reality by capturing and selecting it becomes a ‘naturalized’ activity – every fact achieves further significance – the environment is lived so as to capture/represent it – life-world is turned into an artefact to be (re)used

7 Functionalities: Web browsing Mobility: interpersonal connectivity + information access – Less strategic planning  more tactical thought – Intolerance to fixity / stability Environment is supplemented with online info: – Blurring of online/offline worlds – Life Experiencing: informed activity (no need of risk-taking) – Learning = grabbing reliable info about your environment

8 Functionalities: Features of mobile Web browsing – merging sites and times of information/relations/activities – merging online/offline environments Trend to ‘representation-as-selection’: – selected artefacts rather than texts created in writing – a new textual genre: mobile s

9 Functionalities: GPS positioning ‘Live’ contextualization of the self in the discursive representation of geography Displacement of the self Geographical record of ‘a life’ Movement -> representation/artefact

10 Functionalities: Lifeblog a multimodal chronological representation of the whole activity with the device a multimodal diary automatically recorded and assembled while using the device life turns into a visual artefact which can be (re)used

11 Multi-functionalities Immediacy and real-time Adaptation and flexibility (from other devices) The more functionalities, the more likely their use in their default settings (‘templates’) Personalization is index of expertise (interest)

12 Skills fostered Representation as selection + recontextualization Adaptation and flexibility ‘how-to’ (processes) over ‘what’ (contents) (local/operational) tactics over (global) strategies Real-time multi-tasking synergy over fine-grained focus

13 Learning how-to access, select, capture, use in real-time global/collective info/events for local/individual aims/activities

14 Implications Production = selection and transformation = consumption (re-use) usability, selection, bricolage, mobility = ‘freedom’ and ‘creation’ blurred boundaries: information/relations/activities; time/space; online/offline learning: how-to access, select, capture, use in real-time global/collective info/events for local/individual aims/activities A new commodity generates new (newly-shaped) needs and purposes

15 Implications for education Foregrounded skills: – Selection + Re-contextualization – How-to – Real-time tactical and multi-tasking thinking Navigational aids in the era of the ideology of choice - style - as the politics of choice - aesthetics - as the politics of style - ethics - as the politics of value and evaluation Background skills: – Strategic/global planning – Text-creation from scratch – Architecture building (rather than navigation among options) – Focus on contents, on accuracy and reflection – Life = risk-taking, exploration, ephemeral experiencing

16 Conclusions Can social semiotics – by exploring changes in representation and communication – explain changes in habitus of learning? a merely rhetorical question… !

17 Thank you! A social semiotic account of (mobile) learning AERA - San Diego, April 2009 Elisabetta Adami - University of Verona Gunther Kress - Institute of Education, London


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