Chronotopes in learner-generated contexts. A reflection about the interconnectedness of temporal and spatial dimensions to provide a framework for the exploration of hybrid learning ecologies of doctoral e-researchers

Antonella Esposito, Albert Sangrà, Marcelo Maina


This work is concerned with a reflection on the construct of “chronotope” (Bakhtin, 1981) as a conceptual tool suitable for illustrating the affordances of emerging Web 2.0 learning ecologies of doctoral researchers. For the purposes of this work, the chronotope is considered as an analytical lens suitable for illustrating the movements of PhD researchers across shifting space/time configurations (affordances) arising from scholarly environments increasingly permeated by digital mediation.

The conceptual framework under construction looks at the intersection of time and space being produced by self-directed PhD students, engaged in sifting the learning opportunities provided both by institution-bounded and self-organized learning ecologies in the open Web. The focus is on the role that personal technologies – especially social Web tools and environments – play in the function of supporting academic identity building in the course of a doctorate and in affecting the boundary crossing activities undertaken by PhD e-researchers in their efforts to draw opportunities from hybrid (analog/digital; formal/informal) learning ecologies.

The developmental phases of a doctoral journey (Gardner, 2009), along with the interweaving of past-present-future in the “identity-trajectory” of PhD students (McAlpine & Amundsen, 2011), are adopted to provide a preliminary frame for the object of study. It is argued that the notion of chronotope, understood as multiple and variously appearing institutional constraints and individual motivations, can help to make sense of the extent to which this new ‘species’ of doctoral e-researcher is able to co-evolve within the academic culture of the local research training environments.


learning ecologies, chronotopes, doctoral students, social Web

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