A Matter of Distance – Stepping into the ‘Dance’ of Practice through Eportfolios

Susan Sherringham
Insearch, Australia


The overarching project under consideration in this paper is that of supporting international students’ transition into university culture in Australia through the development of knowledge, skills and dispositions. In this context the concept of distance shifts from distance learning to distance load where students face many levels of distance in their transition to university. This paper suggests that a reconceptualisation of ePortfolios through practice theory may prove useful in addressing distance load. An ePortfolio reconceptualised as rehearsal and performance space, a supportive environment where students can metaphorically step in and out of the dance of learning, offers a conceptual frame for a personal journey, an apprenticeship into new ways of knowing, doing, and being, and an acculturation into practices and learning communities. It is proposed that by engaging with curriculum through an ePortfolio, informed by social practice theory, students not only develop skills and knowledge, but also more evolved dispositions that begin to embody technology as a valued and integral part of learning in a way that can be carried forward into their social and civic life. In conceiving of educational practice through the lens of practice theory, it is posited that the skills and knowledge (required) to actively engage in a society (characterized by digital technology) are learned and embodied through practices.

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