Thursday, 5 March 2009

Dialogue - Is there a clue in the title?

The term 'dialogue' itself has begun to intrigue me, as a route to learning.

I am wondering whether the word itself might hold the secret to the concept of learning and interaction I am trying to tune into? Being made up of the greek words dia and logos - I thought there would be something relevant in the 'dia' part of the word in terms of a 'process involved' and/or some form of inbuilt collaboration or connection which would be both pivotal and dynamic within the process as a whole.....

A quick check of some Greek/Latin dictionaries has revealed possibilities for this. Although, as I remember from old, one word in Ancient Greek or indeed Latin can mean many in English. Hence numerous interpretations can therefore be deducted in reality. Never-the-less, to humour me and follow my train of thought the ones which interest me - (since they support what I am trying to seek out) are:

DIA: between; on account of; through midst of; by agency of; throughout; in among; during; by means of; by mouth of; by aid of; mutual relations; one with another; different directions & variance. For definitions of 'Dia' check here and here

LOGOS: 'that by which inward thought is expressed'; word; talks; speech; conversation, a saying. From the Latin: thought; opinion; reason. For definitions of 'Logos' check here and here

In fact LOGOS, if we take the most literal meaning of 'that by which inward thought is expressed', could be associated with more textual (as opposed to verbal) forms of conversation. This sort of association could offer scope for digital environments to credibly underpin a conversational pedagogical shift or approach within education.

This aside, LOGOS is obviously individualistic in nature and concerned with the externalisation of something which happens inwardly with all its contextual assumptions, prejudice and bias. DIA, meanwhile, seems to expect a degree of collective interaction or collaborative effort. When linked with LOGOS, the whole concept seems to have an unfinished subtext, bringing its connotations of 'throughout', 'during' and 'in the midst of' to the forefront. Such unfinished business neatly aligns itself with notions of education as an ongoing process and life long learning.


  1. I didn't know this. I thought dialogue was the two person version of monologue because I assumed dia derived from duo. So I would describe most e conversation as multilogues! But I'm clearly wrong.

    However I think e conversations are liberating just in that it is possible to follow multiple conversations at the same time whereas in the real world it is one at a time (I am a man, can't multitask) and there is always some annoying windbag who dominates the conversation and some shy retiring sort who never gets a word in edgeways.

    Having experimented in class with both oral/aural conversations and text chatrooms there are lurkers in both but the lurkers are different people in each case

  2. Hi dave,

    yes that is very interesting observation - that lurkers in an online environment tend to be different people to those who would lurk in face to face situations.

    Do you think there is some sort of role reversal when shy retiring types go online, gain in confidence and find a voice or do you think the power dynamics that can be embedded in conversation. as you describe, disappear or simply manifest elsewhere when online?

    If power dynamics still exist online conversation, how do you think they manifest themselves in cyberspace? (Cyberbullying apart)

  3. Multilogues are also a very interesting concept - this makes me think of the quote I included in our readings from Salmon's Etivities book

    "studying in a kind of hypertext" and "impulses from here and there..... from some-one rather than some-thing"

    or something like that....

    I imagine some-one trying to tune in to the airways on the radio, picking up reception - listening to check if its the channel they want and then moving on. When the tunner falls between several channels chat and conversation collide, overlap etc.

    Do multitasking and hyperactivity lead to greater integration of knowledge and understanding do you think?


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