Digital literacy practices and their layered multiplicity: a focus for study


This working paper reports on the preliminary findings of a PhD study which examines the nature of the digital literacy practices that arise when an adult learner (Sara) in a UK Further Education college completes writing assignments for her course. Drawing on the concept of ‘literacy events’ and ‘literacy practices’ (Scribner and Cole, 1981; Heath, 1983; Street, 1984) to complement and subsume traditional ‘skills set’ notions of digital literacy, it explores whether she uses digital tools agentively and decisively in her daily life to transform her classroom practice, as success in programmes of study depends on learners being able to negotiate and manage a variety of digital literacy practices commensurate with the literacy demands of a course.

This research adopts a multi-method ethnographic approach involving classroom observations, a multimodal recording of a digital writing event in process, and finally a semi-structured interview to analyse Sara’s applications of digital literacy in her daily life. Data show that Sara’s endeavour to mobilise her social digital literacy practices into a classroom-based literacy event allow her to successfully make the link between her own everyday digital literacy practices and the requirements of the course.

The relationship, therefore, between domains and digital literacy practices is complex and messy as such enactments of ‘translations’ disrupt the college’s attempt to ‘stabilise’ institutional digital literacy which it valorises in the classroom domain. It is argued that a ‘social practice’ approach to digital literacies, along with Actor-Network Theory sensibilities, allows researchers to observe and the sensitivity of classroom-based digital literacy events to the layered multiplicity of their contexts.

Finally, I contend that such research, when conducted in multiple case-study form, provides a basis for understanding how learners’ social digital literacy practices can be mobilised as resources for learning across increasingly porous institutional boundaries.”
Precise reference:

Bhatt, I. (2012). Digital literacy practices and their layered multiplicity: a focus for study. In: 62nd annual conference of The International Council for Educational Media. Nicosia (Cyprus), pp. 33-45

Read it on my academia.edu page

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