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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


The Power of the Pen: Virtually Speaking

Heather E. Duncan.

We live in the Age of Information in a networked world. It seems paradoxical that despite vast and worldwide linkages, many individuals feel disconnected and alone. In education, there are concerns regarding the ever-widening gap between access to information and the creation of knowledge. Dialogue is a dynamic living entity that catalyses the fluid creation of meaning though human interaction. It characterises an epistemological relationship, a praxis to unite theory and practice. Intertwining the philosophies of Bohm, Bakhtin, and Freire, this paper explores the educative power of virtual dialogue, asynchronous communication across time and space, as a means to overcome the dual paradoxes of a networked world and isolated individuals, freedom of information yet lack of knowledge. Virtual dialogue is built on mutual trust, respect and celebration of diversity. It provides an equal forum for interaction as well as space for reflection and suspension of assumptions. It is an asynchronous process by which we open ourselves to listening and responding. By melding our own internal voices and the external voices of others, by processing information into knowledge, together we create something new. This paper defines the role of dialogue in adult learning, the responsibilities of learners and teachers, and suggests policy for virtual education.


Heather E. Duncan  (Canada)
Doctoral Student
Educational Administration, Faculty of Education
University of Saskatchewan

Heather Duncan is completing her first year doctoral student in Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan. Her dissertation topic is Social Capital: A building block for virtual learning communities? Heather has spent most of her working life in education -- a high school chemistry teacher and department head, as well as teaching adult evening art classes in Scotland, and latterly as a high school principal in Manitoba, Canada.

  • Dialogue
  • Virtual education
  • Adult learners
  • Role of the virtual teacher

(Virtual Presentation, English)