"Turning it into a proper business" : the fate of complexity in distance learning corporate discourse

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2003-12

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Stasi, Mafalda

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the discursive patterns of a team of people working in the hi-tech microcomputer industry to develop and market a distance learning application during the years 1995 to 1999. The work is divided into three main sections, which deal respectively with the distance learning application, its affordances, constraints, metaphors, and in general how the learning theories and practices of the team under study were embodied in the tool; then the analysis moves to considering how people viewed and used the tool, and its position with respect to the historical, pedagogical and technological distance learning context; finally, the focus moves to the team itself, and to their working practices, processes and relations. Throughout the whole case study we can see the emergence of similar themes: specifically how the discourse and ideological strategies of the distance learning industry context attempt to simplify, deride, vii deny, or displace the inherent complexity of an ecological system such as that under exam; and how this complexity is ultimately irreducible and it always reemerges in gaps and disjunctions of the dominant discourse and practices.

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