It's not all about the learner:
a sociomaterial account of student
digital literacy practices
Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliv...
Mainstream accounts of digital
literacies
The DigEuLit project:
• ‘Digital Literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability...
‘Digital literacy defines those capabilities which fit an
individual for living, learning and working in a digital
society...
Features of these accounts
• Assume DLs to be quantifiable, stable, generic and
transferable entities, ie taxonomic
• Seen...
Critique 1:
New Literacy Studies
An NLS definition
‘The constantly changing practices through which people
make traceable meanings using digital technologi...
So digital
literacies:
• Are also overwhelmingly
textual and concerned
with meaning-making
• Are situated in range of
cult...
However…
NLS perspective restores the focus on meaning-making
and situated practices, but…
There is a need to theorise the...
Critique 2:
Sociomaterial perspectives
Material assemblages
Humans, and what they take to be their learning and social
processes, do not float, distinct, in cont...
Removing the agency of texts and tools in formalising
movements risks romanticising the practices as well as the
humans in...
So digital
literacies are
• Emergent through
networks of human and
nonhuman actors
• Constitutive of ‘context’,
spaces and...
JISC project research findings
Data collection
• Longitudinal multimodal journaling
involving 12 volunteers
• 4 groups: doctoral, MA, PGCE & distance
• 3...
Nonhuman actors
I feel like, also that Google is equally watching
you. You know, they’re all watching you, they’re all
try...
Not just digital
…It’s not necessarily the working with, sort of, the traditional
practices, but much more about the, you ...
Co-constituted spaces
19
Co-constituted spaces
• That’s really interesting how much I use the iPad for a
start everywhere and anywhere...And I have...
Conclusions
Mainstream accounts position learners as free-floating,
romanticised agents unencumbered by material
concerns
...
Project blog:
http://diglitpga.jiscinvolve.org/wp/
Project webpage:
http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearni
ng/d...
References
Beetham, H. (2010) Review and Scoping Study for a Cross-JISC Learning
and Digital Literacies Programme. JISC,
w...
References
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-
Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University...
It's not all about the learner: a sociomaterial account of digital literacy practices
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It's not all about the learner: a sociomaterial account of digital literacy practices

  1. 1. It's not all about the learner: a sociomaterial account of student digital literacy practices Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver Networked Learning Conference 2014
  2. 2. Mainstream accounts of digital literacies The DigEuLit project: • ‘Digital Literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthesize digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action; and to reflect upon this process’. (Digital competence; digital usage; digital transformation) (Martin & Grudziecki, 2006: 255)
  3. 3. ‘Digital literacy defines those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society’ (Beetham, 2010) • Access • Skills • Social practices • Identity
  4. 4. Features of these accounts • Assume DLs to be quantifiable, stable, generic and transferable entities, ie taxonomic • Seen as residing in the individual and amenable to ‘development’ of the student • Cognitive or attitudinal, mixture of capabilities, skills and attributes • Gives the impression of ‘learner-centredness’, however learners and enacted situated practices are absent
  5. 5. Critique 1: New Literacy Studies
  6. 6. An NLS definition ‘The constantly changing practices through which people make traceable meanings using digital technologies. Within this broad definition, specific aspects of digital literacies can be investigated and explored further, understood as in many ways offering a continuity to our understandings of literacies in general as social practice’. (Gillen & Barton, 2010: 9)
  7. 7. So digital literacies: • Are also overwhelmingly textual and concerned with meaning-making • Are situated in range of cultural, social and disciplinary contexts, and physical and temporal domains • Involve engagement with multiple devices and platforms
  8. 8. However… NLS perspective restores the focus on meaning-making and situated practices, but… There is a need to theorise the digitally-mediated semiotic practices, particularly: The relationship between the student, text and device The multiply distributed nature of digital literacies (Gourlay, Lea & Hamilton 2013)
  9. 9. Critique 2: Sociomaterial perspectives
  10. 10. Material assemblages Humans, and what they take to be their learning and social processes, do not float, distinct, in container-like contexts of education, such as classrooms or community sites, that can be conceptualised and dismissed as simply a wash of material stuff and spaces. The things that assemble these contexts, and incidentally the actions and bodies including human ones that are part of these assemblages, are continuously acting upon each other to bring forth and distribute, as well as to obscure and deny, knowledge. (Fenwick et al, 2011: vii)
  11. 11. Removing the agency of texts and tools in formalising movements risks romanticising the practices as well as the humans in them; focusing uniquely on the texts and tools lapses into naïve formalism or techno-centrism. Leander and Lovvorn (2006:301), quoted in Fenwick et al 2011 (p104)
  12. 12. So digital literacies are • Emergent through networks of human and nonhuman actors • Constitutive of ‘context’, spaces and time • Locally negotiated, created and maintained
  13. 13. JISC project research findings
  14. 14. Data collection • Longitudinal multimodal journaling involving 12 volunteers • 4 groups: doctoral, MA, PGCE & distance • 3-4 interviews per person over 1 year • Images, videos and presentations • A powerful stimulus for discussion
  15. 15. Nonhuman actors I feel like, also that Google is equally watching you. You know, they’re all watching you, they’re all trying to sell you things […] You know, I don’t want my friends to spy on me, I don’t want my friends to know what I listen to on YouTube. (Sally Interview 1) My third half of my brain is Google scholar. (Frederick Interview 2) I think they (the technologies) control me as well, because I can’t really do anything without them (Faith Interview 1)
  16. 16. Not just digital …It’s not necessarily the working with, sort of, the traditional practices, but much more about the, you know, our physical bodies in space, rather than… And thinking about online environments as being… the iPhone, or whatever it is, connected to a projector, or working then with the iPad, and connecting, so you’ve got this kind of circuit within a physical space. (Django Interview 1) My favourite way of studying something is sitting down with a book and…a pen and some yellow paper and taking notes…. And then I will use the technological side as well, because… Yes, I like combining the two, but I also like to be… the demarcation lines between them, you know, if I, if I have a reading to do then I can, then I almost, I invariably print it off and highlight. (Juan Interview 1)
  17. 17. Co-constituted spaces
  18. 18. 19
  19. 19. Co-constituted spaces • That’s really interesting how much I use the iPad for a start everywhere and anywhere...And I have the information there all the time constantly, and I just feel as though I don’t have to be anywhere physical at all anymore... (Django Interview 3) • I’ll only work at the computer usually to actually do the final part of writing an essay. I enjoy… the image of being, sort of, in a dusty, you know, sort of, wooden shelved, kind of, old library, where it’s, sort of, cosy and warm, that’s, you know, I like that and that’s a part of the experience of studying that I enjoy. (Juan interview 1)
  20. 20. Conclusions Mainstream accounts position learners as free-floating, romanticised agents unencumbered by material concerns Space should not be seen as a neutral backcloth of ‘context’, but as part of emergent assemblages ‘Learner-centredness’ need not lead to neglect of the sociomaterial Close study is needed of student experiences, resources and the assemblages they create / curate
  21. 21. Project blog: http://diglitpga.jiscinvolve.org/wp/ Project webpage: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearni ng/developingdigitalliteracies/DigLitPGAttribute.aspx Project contacts: Lesley Gourlay (l.gourlay@ioe.ac.uk, @lesleygourlay) Martin Oliver (m.oliver@ioe.ac.uk)
  22. 22. References Beetham, H. (2010) Review and Scoping Study for a Cross-JISC Learning and Digital Literacies Programme. JISC, www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/funding/2011/04/Briefingpaper.pd f Fenwick, T., Edwards, R. & Sawchuk, P. (2011) Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: Tracing the Sociomaterial. London: Routledge. Gillen, J. & Barton, D. (2010) Digital Literacies: A Research Briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning Phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. London: London Knowledge Lab. http://www.tlrp.org/docs/DigitalLiteracies.pdf Gourlay, L., Hamilton, M. & Lea, M. (in press) Textual practices in the new media digital landscape: messing with digital literacies. Research in Learning Technologies Special Issue: Digital Literacies and Digital Scholarship.
  23. 23. References Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor- Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lea, M. & Street, B. (1998) Student writing in higher education: an academic literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education 23 (2), 157- 172. Leander, K. & Lovorn, J. (2006) Literacy networks: following the circulation of texts, bodies and texts in the schooling and online gaming of one youth. Cognition and Instruction 24 (3), 291-340. Martin, A., & Grudziecki, J. (2006). DigEuLit: concepts and tools for digital literacy development. Innovation in Teaching And Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, 5 (4), 249 -267.

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