Transitioning Across Networked, Workplace and Educational Boundaries: Shifting Identities and Chronotopic Movements

  • Sue TimmisEmail author
  • Jane Williams
Part of the Research in Networked Learning book series (RINL)


This chapter focuses on transitions across educational, workplace, physical and online settings, for those on professional undergraduate programmes where continual movements between work-based placements and university environments are commonplace. It introduces the idea of chronotopic movements, drawing on Bakhtin’s concept of a chronotope or space:time configuration. By analyzing how students in higher education work across different settings and time frames through this perspective of chronotopes, we show the influence of chronotopic movements on transition, their disruption of learning across boundaries and their mobilisation as resources to help solve boundary-related problems. Six medical students created video diaries to document their use of digital technologies whilst on clinical placements. Chronotopic movements were analysed in relation to access, management of resources, creating and repurposing artefacts and cultural transitions. Networked learning environments helped manage the changes in space and time and helped students adapt to, and make sense of, different spaces and create their own hybrid ‘places’. We conclude that the dynamics of fluid, shifting boundaries of space and time are amongst the key changes that networked learning environments have made possible for working and studying in higher education. Chronotopes can act as resources for mobilizing human agency and supporting students’ sense making when transitioning across boundaries. Yet they also present conflicts as multi spatio-temporal working places increase. Investigating chronotopic movements can reveal how spatiality and temporality frame our actions, including the hidden tensions and cultural challenges of boundary crossings, making this a rich seam for further research and investigation.


Chronotopes Transition Work-based learning Network Boundary crossing Agency 



We would like to thank the following doctors who were student co-researchers on the research project discussed above for their invaluable contribution to earlier work on this topic and their participation in the original study: Amy Hardeley, Joanne Lee, Charlotte Mann, Camilla Milner-Smith, Catherine Trappes-Lomax, Laura Tyler .


  1. Altrichter, H., & Holly, M. J. (2005). Research diaries. In B. Somekh & C. Lewin (Eds.), Research methods in the social sciences (pp. 24–32). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bonderup Dohn, N. (2009). Web 2.0: Inherent tensions and evident challenges for education. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4, 343–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Büscher, M. (2005). Social life under the microscope? Sociological Research Online, 10(1). Retrieved from Scholar
  5. Dahlstrom, E., Walker, J., & Dziuban, C. (2013). The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology (Vol. 2010). Louisville, KY. Educause Center for Analysis and Research. Retrieved from
  6. Ecclestone, K., Biesta, G., & Hughes, M. (2009). Transitions and learning through the lifecourse. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Ellis, R., & Goodyear, P. (2010). Students’ experiences of e-learning in higher education: The ecology of sustainable innovation. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Holland, D., Lachicotte, W., Jr., Skinner, D., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Knight, P., & Yorke, M. (2013). Learning, curriculum and employability in higher education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Kumpulainen, K., Mikkola, A., & Jaatinen, A.-M. (2014). The chronotopes of technology-mediated creative learning practices in an elementary school. Learning, Media and Technology, 39, 53. Retrieved from  10.1080/17439884.2012.752383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lemke, J. L. (2004). Learning across multiple places and their chronotopes. Paper presented at the AERA 2004 Symposium, San Diego, CA. Retrieved from
  12. Ligorio, M. B., Loperfido, F. F., & Sansone, N. (2013). Dialogical positions as a method of understanding identity trajectories in a collaborative, blended university course. International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, 8(3), 351–367. Retrieved from Scholar
  13. Lillejord, S., & Dysthe, O. (2008). Productive learning practice - A theoretical discussion. Journal of Education and Work, 21(1), 75–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lorino, P. (2010). The Bakhtinian theory of chronotope (spatial-temporal frame) applied to the organizing process. Proceedings of International Symposium on Process Organization Studies. Theme: Constructing Identity in and around Organizations. June 11–13, 2010, Rhodes, Greece Retrieved from
  15. Monrouxe, L. V., Rees, C. E., & Hu, W. (2011). Differences in medical students’ explicit discourses of professionalism: Acting, representing, becoming. Medical Education, 45(6), 585–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Reay, D., Crozier, G., & Clayton, J. (2010). ‘Fitting in’ or ‘standing out’: Working class students in UK higher education. British Educational Research Journal, 36(1), 107–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Säljö, R. (2010). Digital tools and challenges to institutional traditions of learning: Technologies, social memory and the performative nature of learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26, 53–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Timmis, S. (2012). Constant companions: Instant messaging conversations as sustainable supportive study structures amongst undergraduate peers. Computers and Education, 59(1), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Timmis, S. (2014). The dialectical potential of cultural historical activity theory for researching sustainable CSCL practices. International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, 9, 1556. Retrieved from 10.1007/s11412-013-9178-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Timmis, S., & Williams, J. (2013). Students as co-researchers: A collaborative, community-based approach to the research and practice of technology-enhanced learning. In E. Dunne & D. Owen (Eds.), The student engagement handbook: Practice in higher education. Bingley: Emerald.Google Scholar
  21. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wertsch, J. V. (1991). Voices of the mind: A socio-cultural approach to mediated action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Centre for Medical EducationUniversity of BristolBristolUK

Personalised recommendations