Digital Literacies

The ‘sociomaterial workings’ of student writing

This is one of two oral papers that I’ll be presenting at the Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) conferences in December 2013:
The sociomaterial workings of a college writing assignment








The paper builds on previous work where I have tried to capture how ‘digital literacies’ across home-and-classroom interact in cyberspace, and how students leverage these literacies as resources to get work done. There is a lot of sociomaterial work which is glossed over and forgotten in the writing of students’ assignments. One of my aims is to uncover some of this. What is subtractive in learning?

The idea of the ‘sociomaterial’ is something I have explored in previous posts, but as people use the Web to get stuff done the notion of ‘public click pedagogy’ comes to mind, elaborated on by Bigum and Rowan here in this symposium paper submission This is the idea that whilst artefacts of learning (e.g. assignments) are often presented as neat, coherent and glossed, the work that goes in to them is anything but. Student writing is messy. This messiness – the impasses, breakthroughs, mistakes, and being lead far and wide – is the genesis of learning itself.

Think of an apple pie that someone baked for you. Sure we’re interested in the taste of the final product, but what about the messy ‘sociomaterial’ process that made it? Were the preferred type of apples used/available? Where were they from? Were there any problems with the cooker? Was it a gas or electric oven? What about all the other stuff that went in to the apple pie? What is its trajectory? The ‘workarounds’ and the ‘bricolage’ (LéviStrauss 1962) of the maker?

This paper had to have a very strict word limit, and I will expand on this in much more detail in the thesis and its tangential writings – which will also be posted.

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