This is an experimental video abstract where I have attempted to provide a ‘lay’ account of the fundamentals of my research within a two and a half minute recording. I decided to do it out ‘in the wild’ as it were, on campus, during a brisk morning in just one take. Apologies for the slight moments of background noise, for which I have provided a script below.
The thesis will be uploaded onto an official institutional repository in a few weeks, and I will post the link.
Thanks to Anna Wang for – just about – holding the camera, and Hafsa Naib for editing tweaks.
My name is Ibrar Bhatt, and you’re watching a video abstract of my PhD thesis which I have completed here at the University of Leeds, in the School of Education. My PhD research is about how learner assignments got written in classroom contexts, and how digital media and Internet connectivity shape the kinds of practices of digital literacy which get drawn into the writing of assignments.
Assignment tasks perform a very important pedagogic function, and they are key moments as learners navigate, or negotiate, their way through a course of study. A bit like going along a gentle, quiet river in a canoe and occasionally becoming misdirected or hitting the rapids. The assignment then acts like a funnel, as an event everything converges upon it, and it brings the learner back on track after their misdirection. Assignments are therefore central to the learner experience, and can teach us a lot about practices of digital literacy and learning.
This leads me to view assignments as theoretical and practical controversies which require unpacking and exploring in order to better understand how digital literacies are played out in learning scenarios. So in my endeavour to explore and unpack assignments, I attend to the digital literacy practices which emerge during their writing, and the kinds of practices drawn into their completion.
I argue that connectivity of the Internet and deployment of digital media in classrooms contribute to new and emerging ‘assemblages’ of people and things. These assemblages are tied together by things like political and managerial decisions, economic imperatives, teachers’ aims and practices, learner habits of use, and digital artefacts and their affordances and properties, etc. The combined effect of all of these agencies is a certain choreography of digital literacy practices arising, a certain version of what digital literacy and digital learning are and how they should be done. Interestingly, this can sometimes run contrary to more anarchic or informal practices of learners, albeit in the completion of their course assignments.
So my research asks, what do these assemblages look like? What kind of digital literacy practices emerge through them? And what can these insights tell us about digital literacy and learning, and how educational assignments – as evolving pedagogic forms – could be better understood and designed.
I hope you enjoy reading the thesis and that it’s useful for your work in technology, education, and new methods of ethnography. Thank you.
Bhatt, I (2014) A sociomaterial account of assignment writing in Further Education classrooms, PhD thesis (submitted: Nov 2014), School of Education, University of Leeds.