Various kinds of information and communication technologies (ICT) are common elements for educational purposes in higher education. Researchers have found that educational issues have been put in the background in favor of technology when it comes to teaching with ICT. Investments and efforts have been prioritised concerning hardware and software, and teachers' skills development have been focused on learning how to use specific software programs technically. However, teachers are also asking for skills development concerning pedagogical issues in relation to ICT. Mishra and Koehler (2006) argue that one of the reasons pedagogy has not been given more space is lack of theories that can help us understand the integration of technology in education.
In order to use ICT teachers have to step into them to show presence and to conduct their teaching. Research has emphasised that presence is important in online learning and thus it becomes an issue of pedagogical interest. Embodiment as a way of showing presence has not been highlighted as other aspects of presence has been. Therefore this study sets out to study teachers' embodiments online. The study has an online ethnographical approach where the analysis is based on data from two case studies where different ICT are used; It's learning and Second Life. Each focuses on a course at university level that is held entirely online. Practice theory (Schatzki, 2002; Schatzki, 1996) and concepts of being a body, having a body and instrumental body have been used for analysing how teachers are stepping into embodied presence.
Bodily presence implies choices where personalisation of teacher embodiment is afforded by the systems but not demanded. The embodiment is ranging from a default to a personalised one. This study shows that it is possible to customise the embodiment which happens but not always. Further, both the online and offline body is actualised in the online setting. What happens in the practice online is not cut off from what happens offline. Teaching in a virtual world is a matter of managing several bodies that overlaps to a more or lesser degree. There is a need to consider that being a body includes several bodies, not just one. To teach in a virtual world comprises knowledge and skills of manoeuvring the bodies and of teaching subject matter, with both of them in the foreground from time to time. Teachers' bodies online could be understood as instrumental, used for doing teaching in the online setting. The border between the bodies and the ICT is blurred and it is difficult to discern where one ends and the other begins.
Mishra, P. & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Teachers College Record 108(6), 1017-1054.
Schatzki, T. (2002). The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Schatzki, T. (1996). Social practices: A Wittgensteinian approach to human activity and the social. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.