123 paper

Learner identities in transition: Getting to know our students better through a comparative investigation of two British and Australian postgraduate programs

Sophie di Corpo
School of Public Health and Community Medicine
University of New South Wales

Siân Bayne
Higher and Community Education
University of Edinburgh

This paper describes research in progress, which aims to explore the ways in which learners in higher education negotiate issues of identity performance when making the transition between face-to-face learning and learning online. The research compares the talk of two groups of British and Australian learners engaged on courses in which an initial period of classroom-based learning is followed by collaborative, internet-based study.

Drawing on methodological tools provided by discourse analysis, the project is working with discussion-board transcripts generated in the context of online learning to formulate a methodology appropriate for analysing the ‘frozen talk’ of the online discussion. Insights from this analysis will be used to draw conclusions on how identities are ‘written’ within online courses, how this differs from identity construction in conventional learning contexts, and how differing institutional, cultural and pedagogical factors affect modes of identity construction among learners in such ‘blended’ learning environments.

Keywords: blended learning, identity, discourse analysis, online communication