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Power and Resistance in Informed Learning

Informed Learning Applications: Insights from Research and Practice

ISBN: 978-1-78769-062-2, eISBN: 978-1-78769-061-5

Publication date: 26 August 2019


Purpose – This chapter contributes to the development of informed learning pedagogy by examining its innately political character. Through examining issues of power that arise in a particular educational setting, the aim is to illuminate how power (and resistance to it) needs to be carefully considered by practitioners who engage with informed learning pedagogy.

Theoretical Approach – Foucault’s view of power, defining it as something that can be both generative and repressive, and which works only in combination with resistance to this power, is specifically drawn on to illuminate how dialogues between students give rise to changed information practices.

Design – Twenty groups of learners, each of five to seven students, engaged in a series of three complex informed learning activities, and generated extensive datasets as they recorded their dialogues to online discussion boards within the Blackboard course management system used on a postgraduate course in educational technology. These data were supplemented by interviews with a number of students and the course tutor.

Findings – The information practices of the groups developed in different ways depending on a number of factors consistent with informed learning. Students were motivated by achieving high grades, and data reveal that students respond to surveillance from teaching staff and each other by communicating outside of the official discussion board space. This is illuminating because by resisting power in this way students develop new practices that are specifically relevant to their group, and shows how dominant power and resistance to it help develop facets of informed learning.



Webster, L. and Whitworth, A. (2019), "Power and Resistance in Informed Learning", Ranger, K.L. (Ed.) Informed Learning Applications: Insights from Research and Practice (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 46), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-131.



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