Criticality and the exercise of politeness in online spaces for professional learning



Watson C, Wilson A, Drew V & Thompson TL (2016) Criticality and the exercise of politeness in online spaces for professional learning. Internet and Higher Education, 31, pp. 43-51.

This research examines masters-accredited online professional learning aimed at fostering criticality and a disposition to collective professional autonomy. Drawing on a model of online learning conceived as a nexus of cognitive, social and teaching presence, we focus principally on the interaction between cognitive and social presence, and the ways in which written language mediates social presence in fostering a critical disposition to professional learning. A key concept for analysing this ispoliteness, predicated on Goffman's construct of ‘face’, i.e. the work individuals do in presenting themselves to others. We conclude that the ‘collective face wants’ of the online community led to the creation of an online space in which participants were supported by their peers to do ‘being critical’. The purpose of the analysis presented here is to contribute to theory around ‘social presence’ in order to further the understanding of collaborative learning in online spaces and hence to support the development of pedagogical practices aimed at facilitating this.

Cognitive presence; Collective face wants; Critical thinking; Face; Face threatening act; Identity; Masters level learning; Networked learning; Social presence; Teaching presence

Internet and Higher Education: Volume 31

Publication date31/10/2016
Publication date online07/06/2016
Date accepted by journal06/06/2016

People (3)


Dr Valerie Drew

Dr Valerie Drew

Lecturer in Education Leadership, Education

Dr Terrie-Lynn Thompson

Dr Terrie-Lynn Thompson

Senior Lecturer, Education

Professor Cate Watson

Professor Cate Watson

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences