Online learning doesn’t happen online …

Jo McKenzie tweeted a nicely tidied up comment from me at the ISSOTL conference recently.

Jo tweet

One of the reasons I wanted to mention this at the conference is that good empirical research into the study practices of “online” learning is surprisingly scarce. We have a couple of nice examples of research on people configuring their learning spaces in the next book to come from the Laureate project. The book is called “Place-Based Spaces for Networked Learning” and should be published by Routledge in 2016. Two chapters that are right on the topic:


Chapter 7: THE SONIC SPACES OF ONLINE, DISTANCE LEARNERS  (Michael Sean Gallagher, James Lamb and Sian Bayne)

If you are interested in this area, see also: Kahu, E. R., Stephens, C., Zepke, N. and Leach, L., 2014. Space and time to engage: Mature-aged distance students learn to fit study into their lives. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(4), 523–540 ( )


  1. Update June 2017: That line about “learning happening where the learner is” has been picked up by Roberto Martinez-Maldonado, Davinia Hernandez-Leo, Abelardo Pardo and colleagues in their work tracking students across physical and digital spaces.
    See Multimodal Learning Analytics Across Physical and Digital Spaces for more – including links to their papers.
    Also there’s a call for papers for a User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction Special Issue on the theme of Multimodal Learning Analytics & Personalized Support Across Spaces (deadline 1 Nov 2017).

  2. Thanks Isa and Anders. I’ll follow up on your suggestions. I have a chapter in the 2008 Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology that starts to make the point in the following way:

    “Categorizations of instructional approaches and of the experience of learning are rarely symmetrical. A worldview that makes perfect sense to the teacher or instructional systems designer may well prove unrec-ognizable to the learner. This issue is particularly thorny when we talk about flexible learning, distance education, or blended learning. Who bends what in flexible learning? Where is the distance in distance education? What gets blended in blended learning?”

    Goodyear, P. (2008). Flexible learning and the architecture of learning places. In M. Spector, D. Merrill, J. van Merrienboer, & M. Driscoll (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (3rd ed., pp. 251-257). New York: Routledge.

  3. Nice approach, a mix of spaces, places and time. Anders Norberg (Umea) wrote about time-blended concepts. In our chapter about blended learning, we also argue that there is no such thing called distance learning, the learner is present when s/he learns. (Jahnke & Norberg, 2013). And from our tablet studies in education, we learnt that offline and online worlds are merging towards a new kind of classroom: CrossActionSpaces (Jahnke, 2015, Routledge book). Perhaps this is what you mean with blending spaces, places and time?

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