Chalkface; interface; screenface: moving the metaphor of teaching towards the nexus of teaching and learning

Alison Ruth


This paper provides a nuanced metaphor for teaching and learning, taking into account newer mediated forms of learning that lie at the nexus of teaching and learning. Firstly, the paper navigates this metaphorical minefield by tracing the evolution of the terms for describing learning environments: specifically coalface, chalkface and interface. Secondly, it addresses ways of thinking about curriculum design, taking account of the different actors involved in curriculum — designers, teachers and learners — at the chalkface, the interface and in the proposed new metaphor — the screenface. The screenface metaphor is then elaborated both in terms of the shifts in thinking it can facilitate and the implications of viewing research into teaching and learning through this lens. The screenface is a useful metaphor, with application beyond this initial proposal providing new and fruitful questions that can be asked about teaching and learning.

Keywords: teaching; learning; technology; curriculum

(Published: 25 April 2012)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2012, 20: 17187 -


curriculum; teaching; learning; technology

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