Academic, interrupted: exploring learning, labour and identity at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic

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This paper explores the learning and labour of academics during the beginnings of the novel coronavirus outbreak in 2020. Our photo-based research project surveyed academics about their experiences, and makes visible the impact, of the changing built and virtual environments, on academics’ practices, relationships and identities. We theorise these shifting work-home arrangements, the academics’ learning, their emergent agencies and renegotiations of relationships using the theory of practice architectures. Even though these changes seemed collectively shared, our findings lead us to conclude that the COVID-19 disruptions to academics’ labour were not experienced equally. The agency of academics, their capacity to learn new practices, undoubtedly shaped their responses. However, we believe that academics’ relative privilege also undergirds this agency, although it does not do so in toto. The shifting practice arrangements during the beginnings of the pandemic have enabled and constrained, but these practice architectures have also uncovered, inflected and renewed imaginings long forgotten.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-335
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • architecture
  • pandemic
  • learning
  • higher education

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