Distilling complexity through metastability and mobility: The networked learning of Amara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Networked learning is defined as learning in which information and communications technology (ICT) is used to promote connections between learners, tutors, community, and resources. Building on this definition, this chapter explores the complexity of the connections on which this definition rests, the mobilities being generated by the relationality expressed within these connections, and the learning practices engendered as a result. The capacity of individuals or systems to generate or learn how to generate a metastability, a state of navigating the largely unmanageable aspects of complexity, “cannot be reduced either to the actions of individual actors or to persisting social structures” (Urry 2016: 59). It is a complexity that resists proportionality or linearity; small changes can generate large structural consequences, and individuals will, intellectually or dispositionally, exert considerable effort towards navigating and maintaining this metastability.

This chapter explores this complexity and metastability through Amara, a composite character personified as a Nepalese woman studying in a postgraduate programme in Europe to illustrate both this complexity and metastability. Drawing on mobilities frameworks, the habitus of Bourdieu is repurposed as disposition; a tendency of an individual to act, react, or think in a particular way based on the relational mobilities through which they move. Disposition is advanced as a necessary addition to the theorizing of mobilities, one that countenances Amara’s networked learning practices and the various practices and technologies she uses to maintain her numerous identities and engagements. It encapsulates a range of mobilities: material, communicative, imaginative, and corporeal; and ultimately, it is one that Amara must negotiate to maintain the systems of mobility on which she depends. Amara needs capacity to artfully maintain a metastability as she moves through the diaspora of her own mobility. This chapter explores this through Amara but suggests that a mobilities focus is critical in understanding the networked learning of international students generally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMobility, Data and Learner Agency in Networked Learning
EditorsNina Bonderup Dohn, Petar Jandric, Thomas Ryberg, Maarten de Laat
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783030369118
ISBN (Print)9783030369101
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mobilities
  • networked learning
  • international student
  • cosmopolitanism
  • sociomateriality


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