Our editorial summarizes what we consider the main contribution of this publication:
In this special issue we offer an extensive exploration and conceptualization of the visual and material dimensions of education and learning, bringing together a cluster of emerging scholarly ventures that investigate how people create, explore, interpret, negotiate, adjust, contest, transform and envision learning environments. This edited collection of research papers shows the versatility of the growing field of schoolscape studies and the high potential of recent theoretical and methodological innovations to investigate the visual and material dimensions of education and learning. The studies share the view that premises designed for education as well as other spaces can equally serve as sites of teaching and learning. Among others, the papers ask what the environment offers and how images, multimodal texts and artifacts can be used to enhance (language) learning and communication. The empirical case studies apply a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, bringing innovation into the generation, presentation and analysis of data from varying educational institutions and mundane settings covering geographical sites from Europe and North America.
[...]The special issue includes our editorial, seven original research papers and Durk Gorter's comprehensive review paper. With Petteri, we are glad that this venture attracted a group of scholars representing different approaches and career stages. We are very grateful for their cooperation, openness and flexibility which made this special issue possible.
The present special issue is the first systematic collection of studies that deal with educational policies and practices from a linguistic landscape point of view (see also Gorter’s commentary in this issue). As first ventures into a specific theoretical concept, methodology or theme, the chosen empirical case studies advance numerous fields of applied linguistic inquiry.
The table of contents provides an overview of the richness of topics and methods discussed in the special issue:
- Studying the visual and material dimensions of education and learning (Petteri Laihonen and Tamás Péter Szabó)
- Multiple language signage in linguistic landscapes and students’ language practices: A case study from a language immersion setting (Sanna Pakarinen and Siv Björklund)
- Shifts and stability in schoolscapes: Diachronic considerations of southeastern Estonian schools (Kara D. Brown)
- The environment of a bilingual classroom as an interactional resource (Teppo Jakonen)
- The advantages and disadvantages of quantitative methods in schoolscape research (Timo Savela)
- An ecological community becoming: Language learning as first-order experiencing with place and mobile technologies (Dongping Zheng, Yang Liu, Andrew Lambert, Aitao Lu, Jared Tome and Daniel Holden)
- SIGNS: Uncovering the mechanisms by which messages in the linguistic landscape influence language/race ideologies and educational opportunities (Steve Daniel Przymus and Alan Thomas Kohler)
- Focal social actions through which space is configured and reconfigured when orienting to a Finnish Sign Language class (Elina Tapio)
- Linguistic landscapes and trends in the study of schoolscapes (Durk Gorter)
It is our pleasure that Linguistics and Education accepted our proposal that we submitted in late 2015. At that time, we were in the preparation phase of a two-day colloquium for Sociolinguistics Symposium 21 in Murcia, Spain. Our colloquium also had the title Studying the visual and material dimensions of education and learning, and some of the presenters are among the authors of the special issue (the program of the colloquium is available in the symposium booklet, on pages 106–108 and 210–213).
The papers of this special issue have been available in a close-to-final in press version since last autumn, and we learnt that some of them are on university course reading lists, and some of them already got cited. It shows that this publication started to reach its audience, and we hope it will be used extensively in research and teaching.
You can read our editorial for free until 6 May 2018 using this link. Enjoy!