Breaking down container-like, imagined geographies of learning. 

Breaking down container-like, imagined geographies of learning. 

...there is no such thing as a boundary. All spaces are porous to a greater or lesser
degree. For example, bodies caught in freeze-frame might look like envelopes but, truth to
tell, they are leaky bags of water, constantly sloughing off pieces of themselves, constantly
leaving traces – effluent, memories, messages – through moments of good or bad encounter
in which practices of organization and community and emnity are passed on, sometimes all
but identically, sometimes bearing something new (Thrift, 2006, p. 140-141). 

Course Syllabus - Spatial Learning: Place, Trajectories, Networks

Summer, 2014, M-F, 1:10-3:00

Instructor: Ty Hollett


Office: Wyatt Center, 150-3

Office Hours: Please contact me to setup an appointment.


Contemporary culture and theory have adopted a number of moving metaphors to describe how “space” emerges, including “flows” (Appadurai, 1996), “liquid life” (Bauman, 2005), and “networks" (Castells, 1996). These flows and movements include those of people, material goods, media, and more. Space, then, is not a static entity, but a social production. Still, despite the “spatial turn” that has shaped thinking in other disciplines, space continues to be understudied and under-theorized within education. Thus, this course explores thinking surrounding space, place, and mobility in order to combat discourses that position the classroom as a container, as a fixed site where teachers and researchers expect learning to take place (Leander, Phillips & Headrick Taylor, 2010). This is theory-driven course that aims to provide students with a spatial lens with which they can approach future work and research in—and across—learning settings. We'll begin with a recent fundamental review working to combat classroom-as-container discourses. Then, we'll take a deep dive into citations within the review, coming to understand learning in terms of (theories of) place, trajectories, and networks. We'll conclude with recent emphases on connected learning. 

Course Objectives: 

  • Introduce the spatial turn in the social sciences and its impact on literacy and learning. 
  • Compare and contrast spatial perspectives on learning and literacy, including learning in place, learning trajectories, and learning networks. 
  • Analyze and critique current efforts to extend learning across settings. 

Required Texts:

All readings are available on OAK. 

Assignments and Grades:

Active Engagement/Check-In Preparation (20%)

Summary Critiques (30%) [Note: This links to a Google Doc through which you will submit your work. You will also have a chance to see others' work. I will also write these with you, so you can see my thinking, too. There is a model there so you have an example from which to work]. Posted before Noon. 

Reading Discussion/Moderation (10%)

Connected Learning Case Analysis (30%) [Note: Summary of project below rubric]

Final Pecha Kucha Presentation (10%)

Note: We will also maintain a collection of class notes during small/group discussions. Use this link daily to access and contribute to those notes. 


Week 1: The social spaces of learning

M (6/9)

Introduction: Imagined geographies and container-like visions

Examples from connected learning

To read (for following class): Leander, Phillips and Taylor (2010), p. 329-336; Leander and Sheehy (2004), p. 1-4; Lemke (2004) [Browse this piece, but no need for summary/critique unless certain things really speak to you]

To do: Browse PDFs and choose a reading to facilitate/moderate. Tell me your selection tomorrow. 

Ongoing: Summary/critique of reading each day. Be sure to read the directions on the Google Doc.  

T (6/10) 

The changing social spaces of learning

Read: Shields (2011) "Henri Lefebvre"; Lefebvre (1991, excerpt; choose one to be an expert on); a summary of key points is available here.

W (6/11)

The social production of space

Read: Anderson (2008) on "For Space"; Massey (1994)

R (6/12)

Space as a "simultaneity-of-stories-so-far"

Read:  Leander, Phillips and Taylor (2010), p. 336-341 (section on learning in place)

Do: Prepare for check-in

F (6/13) Check-Ins

Preparation for following week [Place]

Individual check-ins (Room 164): Be prepared with questions, if you're struggling with anything; or, be ready to dig through and talk about the Connected Learning Case Analysis.

Jay: 1:00-1:20
Luke: 1:25-1:45
David: 1:50-2:10
Dave: K: 2:15-2:35
Jacob: 2:40-3:00 

Read: Nespor (1997, Introduction and Chapter 1) [Note: The Nespor readings are longer than previous readings]. 

Week 2: Learning in place


Tangled up in school (Part 1)

Overview of this week's readings: Learning in place

Read: Nespor (1997, Chapter 3)

Ongoing: Summary/critique of reading each day 

(6/17) Tangled up in school (Part 2)

Read: Ehret and Hollett (2013)

(6/18) (Re)Placing School

Read: Burnett (2012)

(6/19) The (Im)materiality of educational space

Read: Leander, Phillips and Taylor (2010), p. 341-344 (section on learning trajectories) 

Do: Prepare for check-in

(6/20) Check-ins

Preparation for following week [Trajectories and Networks]

Individual check-ins (Room 164)

Jay: 1:00-1:20
Luke: 1:25-1:45
David: 1:50-2:10
Dave: K: 2:15-2:35 
Jacob: 2:40-3:00 

Read: Zacher (2009)

Week 3: Learning trajectories and networks

(6/23) Negotiating childhood in the city

Overview of this week's readings: Learning trajectories and networks

Read: Erstad et al. (2009) 

Do: Prepare for project overview

Ongoing: Summary/critique of reading each day 

(6/24) Learning lives

          Brief project overview (1 slide, 5 minutes to present; 5 minutes to discuss)

Read: Wortham (2004) [Facilitated by Jay]

(6/25) Emergence of classroom identity

Read: Leander, Phillips and Taylor (2010), p. 344-349 (Learning networks); Fields and Kafai (2009) [Facilitated by Jacob]; Steinkuehler (2007) [Facilitated by David K.]

(6/26) Tweens and constellations 

Do: Prepare for check-in

(6/27) Check-ins

Preparation for following week [Connected Learning]

Individual check-ins (Room 164)

Jay: 1:00-1:20
Luke: 1:25-1:45
David: 1:50-2:10
Dave: K: 2:15-2:35 (Google Hangout)
Jacob: 2:40-3:00 (Google Hangout?)

Read: Ito et. al (2013); Kumpulanein and Sefton Green (2014) [Consider beginning Jenkins et al (2009) since it's longer than most of our readings].

Week 4: Connected Learning

(6/30) Introduction to connected learning

In Class: Develop a presentation for newcomers on the principles of connected learning .

Luke and David, here; Jay, Dave, Jacob, here

Read:  Jenkins et al (2009, long but quick)

Ongoing: Summary/critique of reading each day 

(7/1) Participatory culture

Read: Barron et al. (2013) [Facilitated by Luke]

(7/2) Pathways and ecologies

Do: Finish final project

(7/3) Pecha-Kucha Final Presentations

(7/4) No class