At the beginning of the pandemic, schools and universities were forced to ‘go online’ at short notice. We often refer to this as ‘virtual learning’, but is that really a good description? We think about the internet as something separate from the ‘real world’ we see in front of us, full of objects and people. The language used to describe it suggests this too – we talk about ‘the cloud’ and ‘the ether’, giving the idea that the online world is a special place, free from the messiness of the material world.
However, the reality of ‘online learning’ is also part of the that world. Computers, laptops and smartphones are objects, and we work with them in ‘real life’ settings. During the pandemic, millions of people had to set up and use digital devices at home for work or study. As we (more…)