Digital global learning: The world of images, affect and new understandings

Year: 2012

Author: Donnelly, Debra, Grushka, Kath

Type of paper: Refereed paper


This paper reports on an innovative pre-service teacher training course at the University of Newcastle, Australia that utilizes visual digital competencies to investigate a critical global education agenda. This course uses a post-structuralist framework informed by contemporary visual media communication methods and contends that the produced works evidence the paradigm shift from print text with images as illustration to an image/text collaboration in the communication of sophisticated and nuanced meanings in the digital environment. It further contends that harnessing visual media culture and the possibilities afforded by image manipulation technologies is an excellent strategy for developing understandings about global issues and challenges in the context of students' disciplinary prescriptions and can move them beyond these to evolve their global citizenry identity. Digital visual technologies are also presented as a powerful vehicle for transformative learning (Buckingham, 2007; Walsh, 2007; Cope & Kalantzis, 2008; Levstik & Barton, 2004) where critical citizenry insights and empathic understandings propel agency. The artworks produced in the course are positioned as learning objects for the pre-service teachers to embed in their practice with the aim of countering cultural stereotypes, discerning and repairing the view of the "other" in a post-colonial era. This course seeks to cultivate open-mindedness, engagement and empathy with the diverse cacophony of global voices through digital image and text montage (Grushka and Donnelly, 2010). This paper unpacks the pedagogies of learning in a digital learning environment and, citing recent cognitive neuroscientific discoveries, highlights the role of the affect in learning and its utility to encourage empathetic global citizenship.