The affordances of digital literacies on a foundational language course

Aditi Hunma, Moeain Arend and Gideon Nomdo (UCT)

Situated within a New Literacy Studies paradigm, this presentation looks at how a new ‘blended’ curriculum model launched earlier this year shifts the shape of literacy practices on a foundational language course, DOH 1002F Language in the Humanities.  In many ways, the course attempts to narrow the gap between the literacies students bring to the academy and the academy’s literacies.  While close to a third of the overall intake on this course are mainstream students, most of the students are registered on the Humanities extended degree programme (EDP).  The need to embed digital literacies into the course was influenced firstly by a visiting scholar’s recommendation that students should be exposed to the complexity of texts and held longer in an analytical mode instead of being expected to take a particular position in a debate.  It also arose out of curricular changes taking place more broadly within the Humanities Education Development Unit (EDU) where the importance of additional writing-intensive interventions was felt particularly for first year undergraduate Humanities students.  This presentation focuses more narrowly on how the acquisition of and engagement with basic and more advanced digital literacies through our course website supported the acquisition of academic literacies and course content more generally.  It asks the following question: How does the engagement with digital literacies ‘hold’ students longer in an analytical mode when engaging with texts?  It also seeks to expand the notion of academic literacies, with a new emphasis on digital literacy practices.  We argue that a broader view of academic literacies is key to understanding the interplay between digital literacies and students’ identities as writers in the academic context.  This is especially important because the acquisition of academic literacies has always been seen as one of the important vehicles for widening and sustaining access to the university for all students.

Affordances of digital literacies

Presentation Slides


Getting under the hood: accounts of assignment writing in classrooms

Ibrar Bhatt (University of Leeds)

In this session I report on aspects of my recently submitted doctoral research which explores assignment writing tasks in Further Education classrooms. I approach the writing of assignments as controversies which require deep exploration, as learners navigate their way through a course of study. Specifically, I attend to the ecology of digital literacy practices (the impasses, breakthroughs, workarounds, etc.) by problematising the impact of cyberspace in the classroom, as learners undertake their work using whatever digital media is at their disposal.

Drawing on recent work in Literacy Studies, and using a sociomaterial approach, I uncover complex digital literacy practices emerging in and through assignments as emerging ‘assemblages’, often in contrast to digital demands imposed by normative classroom culture and policies. I show that this ‘assemblage’ is tied together by political and managerial decisions, economic imperatives, teachers’ aims and practices, learner habits of use, material artefacts and their properties, etc. All of these agencies shape a certain choreography of digital literacy practices arising during classroom tasks; practices which draw from their own worlds as they, in turn, enact the precarious world of assignment writing.

Ibrar’s presentation slides