The Web of Identity

Marguerite Koole from Athabasca and Lancaster Universities is presenting her paper, The Web of Identity: Selfhood and Belonging in Online Learning. She did a distance-learning master’s degree, and she felt disconnected with her faculty there, without any face-to-face engagement. She experienced few ah-ha moments within the required discussion forums. She did not relate to other  students in the program, and as a result of not feeling connected and engaged, she began exploring identity and how the individual differentiates between the self and other.

Her work around identity was influenced by Ricoeur (1992), Mead (1934), Ferreday, Jones, and Hodgson (2006). She was also interested in impressions management from Goffman (1959) and also saw Foucault’s work on the technologies of the self. She then demonstrated how these issues from Goffman could be interpreted through a Foucauldian lens, and then presented her Web of Identity Model. She includes an element of Cognitive Resonance component, which is an individual’s identityt as reflected or refracted through the strategies with the final goals to achieve a comfortable level of resonance and harmony.

There were numerous implications for learning, and it will be intersting to see how this model develops over time. I think that the follow-up questions at the end, many of which were very theoretical, demonstrates how rich this area may be.