Themed article: emotion online: experiences of teaching in a virtual learning environment

Sarah Gilmore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Using qualitative data drawn from one specific instance of workplace virtuality and emotion — the experience of delivering online seminars using `chat-rooms' — we explore how emotion was productively transformed through the use of virtuality in a teaching and learning setting, a workplace environment for thousands of academics. Using social constructivist and psychoanalytical theories of emotion, we discuss three emotional categories grounded in these data: 1) intimacy; 2) play; and 3) pride/shame, which were experienced in response to a range of student behaviours seemingly encouraged by the online seminar setting. We argue that the characteristics of virtuality as a medium of communication — namely the absence of the body, diminution of paralingual cues and removal of physical socio-spatial indicators–force a renegotiation of the 'feeling rules' that govern traditional classroom settings which in turn contributes to a more emotionally suffused teaching experience for online tutors. Given that the emotional experience of being an online teacher is notably under-theorized in the andragogic literature, our focus in this article is on the emotional implications of virtual teaching rather than virtual learning. We conclude by stating the need for further research into virtuality, emotion and teaching given the clear andragogical implications we discuss, the predicted rise in the use of virtual technologies as educational tools and the impact this may have on the emotional working lives of the academics who are called upon to mobilize them.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)581-608
    Number of pages28
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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