Virtually Everywhere: Exploring Place in Online Learning

Date: December 13, 2022 at 09.00-10.00 Eastern Standard Time (ET) / 15.00-16.00 Central European Time (CET)

Place: The webinar takes place on Zoom, and a link will be shared closer to the event.

Video Available Here

Speaker: Catherine Esposito, Penn State, United States


The diffusion of online learning has undoubtedly impacted not only how students learn but also where they learn.  Within the field of internationalization in higher education, such changes have eroded the strong link with mobility, opening the way for more innovative solutions which connect students across the globe in online environments, through programs such as COIL and virtual exchange.

As such online learning modalities reduce the relevance of students’ physical location, they necessitate a reconsideration of our understanding of place in higher education and particularly among internationalization efforts.  Where do participants of international online exchanges locate themselves, and how do they mediate between their physical and online spaces during such exchanges?  Can and should the online environment be truly immersive, in ways similar to more traditional mobility programs?  

This talk will draw upon the work of philosophers and humanistic geographers as well as empirical research on place in online exchanges. Together, we will consider the possible ways of understanding place online: for example, as a negation of space, aligned perhaps with Augé’s notion of non-place or Relph’s placelessness; as relational, drawing upon assemblage theory; or in light of Massey’s reconceptualization of place, as open and hybrid, as an ever changing process.

Catherine Esposito is an Instructional Design Team Lead at the IT Learning and Development department at Penn State.  She holds a Master’s degree in International Higher Education from Boston College.  Her research interests include playful learning, virtual worlds, and sense of place and belonging in online learning environments

The event will be chaired by Tessa DeLaquil, Boston College, United States.

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