Digital Literacies

New Digital Literacies: new digital methods of research


Mostar tortoises © ibrar bhatt

I am pleased to announce a forthcoming publication in a collection entitled Digital Methods for Social Sciences: An Interdisciplinary guide to research innovation, published by Palgrave Macmillan. This chapter contribution is the second of three publications of mine which focus on the methods of my doctoral research, their theoretical background, and their implications and influences on: a) research into digital literacies and learning, and b) digital methodologies for social sciences generally.

The first of my methods-related papers (Bhatt & de Roock, 2013) is here:

And the third is currently in preparation.

In this forthcoming chapter (de Roock, Bhatt & Adams, forthcoming: 2015), my co-writers and I present an argument for the adoption and utility of newer, digital methods as part of ethnographic explorations of literacy and learning in digital environments. As literacy practices are continuously changing with the rapid evolution of digital media, bringing what Albers et al. refer to as a “sea change in the conception and practice of literacies” (Albers et al., 2014: p. xi), then a critical discussion of how literacy research is carried out is essential. In this chapter we outline some reflections to support this claim, in order to advance how research into digital learning and literacy could be carried out.

My research is guided by early works emerging from the paradigm which came to be known as the ‘New Literacy Studies’ (NLS, e.g. Barton and Hamilton, 1998; Baynham, 1995; Ivanič, 1998). These research studies were radical in their re-conceptualisation of ‘literacy’, but in so doing had to also be radical in their methodological approach to substantiate this new paradigm, and demand certain kinds of methods with an explanatory programme to yield insights that were, up until then, either unknown or unimportant to those who held a traditional conception of literacy. That traditional conception being that Literacy is: 1) exclusively a matter of ability, or cognitive skills; 2) that these skills are to be applied the same everywhere; and 3) that such abilities will most likely be attained through teaching of Literacy.

I am pleased that this contribution is appearing in a transdisciplinary collection, as problematising the utility of ‘digital methods’ in literacy research also has wider implications to push not just the boundaries of literacy studies, but also for the social sciences generally.

Perhaps in order for NLS inflected studies to retain their ethnographic edge, another revolution in methods will have to occur, one which is more sensitive to the unique character of literacy practices in digital environments? This forms the basis of my three methods-focussed publications and interest in the evolution of research methods generally.

From the abstract:
“de Roock, Bhatt, and Adams seek to bridge the gap between changing literacy practices and research methodologies in the field of Literacy Studies. Expanding the discussion of ‘digital methods’, they detail and discuss approaches to the collection, management, and analysis of their multimodal data of classroom literacy activities.”

I will post further details when the chapter is published.

Albers, P., Holbrook, T. and Flint, A. (2014) New Methods of Literacy Research. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis.
Barton, D. and Hamilton, M. (1998) Local literacies: reading and writing in one community. London: Routledge.
Baynham, M. (1995) Literacy practices: investigating literacy in social contexts. London; New York: Longman.
Bhatt, I. and de Roock, R. (2014) Capturing the Sociomateriality of Digital Literacy Events, Research in Learning Technology, Special Issue: Scholarship and Literacies in a Digital Age, Vol. 21 (4)
Ivanič, R. (1998) Writing and identity: the discoursal construction of identity in academic writing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
de Roock, R., Bhatt, I. and Adams, J. (forthcoming: 2015) Video analysis in digital literacy studies: Exploring innovative methods, In ‘Digital Methods for Social Sciences: An Interdisciplinary guide to research innovation’, Snee, H., Hine, C., Morley, Y., Roberts, S. & Watson, H. (eds.), Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

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