Pedagogy as design: a social semiotic approach to learning as communication
In the paper I outline ways in which a Social Semiotic theory deals with learning. In that approach to education, learning is conceived as semiotic work, an interest-driven transformative process of engagement with the world, as well as its outcome in forms of student "identity". Social Semiotic theory asserts that learning takes place in all social-cultural environments, including spaces of formal learning, designed by teachers to promote communication and interaction around subject curricula. The success of communication as learning depends on the students' interpretation, as their response to the curricular "prompts" put forward by their teachers. In this, teachers have a new and crucial role in their students’ learning, as designers of learning environments, including the place and working of power in these environments: in shaping kinds of agency and, in that, the kinds of meaning that can be made. As we can observe, contemporary technologies for the production and dissemination of messages are becoming ubiquitous. Given these environments, it is crucial that educators are aware how the neo-liberal market promotes its form of identity - that of "consumer" - so that teachers can make conscious pedagogical choices that will give students the resources to make their own, informed decisions about the world.
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