Sites for power and knowledge? Towards a critique of the virtual university
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AbstractIncl. abstract & bibl.
Traditional discourses emanated from sites where agents of knowledge received their professional formation. Postmodernists suggest that the principle that the acquisition of knowledge is indissociable from personal formation is becoming obsolete and that the nature of knowledge cannot survive the information technology revolution unchanged. We examine these propositions with reference to a qualitative study of university staff who were developing and using World Wide Web (WWW) courses. The interview material supports the view that the WWW exemplifies a weakening of the framing of knowledge, has an elective affinity with the individual indulgence of postmodernism and is not effectively controlled through the community of science. Yet the WWW is parasitic on the project of modernism. Its user-friendly surface conceals extreme underlying complexity. The project of reducing professional training to the telematic transmission of an organised stock of knowledge is shown to be ultimately incoherent because it ignores the crucial need for implicit understanding and skill.