Digital Literacies

Seminar at the Open University

Below is the Prezi for my recent talk at the Open University on ‘Academic Literacies’. The event commemorated the phenomenal achievements and contributions of Mary Lea to the field of ‘Academic Literacies’, and this was used as a basis upon which to explore future directions, opportunities and key issues for this research agenda.The Academic Literacies approach to research and pedagogy has, over the last twenty years, developed into a well-established, transdisciplinary, and international field of research. According to Brian Street, writing for the Teaching EAP blog,

Aclits was grounded in New Literacy Studies (NLS)/ Literacy as Social practice (LSP), which conceptualized literacy as social practice rather than an asocial, set of generic  skills. Specifically the theoretical shift in these fields has been from what I term an ‘autonomous’ model of literacy which assumes reading and writing are ‘autonomous’ of social context so just need to be taught at a universal level, to what I refer to as an ‘ideological’ model, which recognises that literacy practices vary across cultural contexts, including in the university context across different fields and disciplines (Street, 1984). To learn the writing required for a particular discipline, then,  involves more sensitive attention to context and meaning than is offered by the autonomous model or the study skills approach that has followed from it. The major methodological contribution is the use of ethnographic perspectives in literacy research and training, whereby teachers try to find out what the learners already know and then build on that.

My work draws from, and contributes to, some of the ‘ethnographic perspectives’ Street is referring to. For me, ‘Getting under the hood’ is precisely about opening up the literacies of assignment writing and their precarious nature: what digital literacies are used as a resource? Which are valorised or cast aside? Which worlds do they draw from? What can this tell us about learning and the smallest of impasses, breakthroughs, and workarounds that lead to its practical achievement?

Also available here:

Some tweets from the session:

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