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Digital literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? Key findings Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver Institute of Education, University of London

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Presentation on theme: "Digital literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? Key findings Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver Institute of Education, University of London"— Presentation transcript:

1 Digital literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? Key findings Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver Institute of Education, University of London

2 Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme Institute of Education, University of London Baseline work: iGraduate survey / Focus groups / multimodal journalling in year 1 Intervention studies in year 2: Academic Writing Centre Learning Technologies Unit Library

3 Key themes Characteristics of academic practice Limits on taxonomies of digital literacy The diversity of student experience Space and mobility Managing identities

4 Academic practice is both digital and textual Academic practices are overwhelming textual These are situated in social and disciplinary contexts Textual practices are increasingly digitally mediated These practices take place across a range of domains Students create complex assemblages enrolling a range of digital, material, spatial and temporal resources

5 Many students felt overwhelmed by the range of choice and availability of digital resources and devices Digital resources are increasingly widespread, but paper- based resources remain important (e.g. note taking, assessed work) The institutional digital infrastructure is highly valued, but can still cause frustration (e.g. management of logins) However, a small minority still try to limit their engagement with the digital, some to an extremely strong degree

6 Limits facing taxonomic accounts of digital literacy Students use a wide, and constantly changing, array of technologies in their studies The technologies included a mix of personal and institutional services and devices All students used sub-sets of the list of technologies; for any student, many technologies are irrelevant Lists are time specific, rapidly becoming dated even ‘stable’ uses of technology involves development, and old practices may no longer work (e.g. obsolete versions of software) The same technology can be used at different times for different ends (e.g. browsers for searching, shopping, etc ), and different technologies get used for similar purposes (e.g. facebook and LinkedIn for social networking)

7 As an example: our students Office tools (primarily Microsoft, plus Google docs and Prezi) Institutional VLEs (Moodle and Blackboard) Email (institutional, personal and work-based) Synchronous conferencing services (Skype, Elluminate) Calendars (iCal, Google) Search engines and databases (including Google, Google Scholar, library databases, professional databases such as Medline, etc), Social networking sites (Facebook,, LinkedIn) and services (Twitter) Image editing software (photoshop, lightbox) Endnote Reference works (Wikipedia, online dictionaries and social bookmarking sites such as Mendeley) GPS services Devices (PCs at the institution and at home, laptops including MacBooks, iPhones, iPads, Blackberries and E-book readers).

8 Diversity of student experience “The student experience” is not singular Evidence of marked differences in experiences and priorities across the four groups of students in our work PGCE, MA students, PhD students, Online masters’ students Different ‘orientations’ towards technology use Curation, combat and coping Each student showed different orientations at different times; these were not ‘types’ of student

9 ‘Curation’

10 For example when I attend a lecture or a session I always record the session, and it’s after the session, but sometimes I listen to the lecture again to confirm my knowledge or reflect the session...when I, for example we’re writing an essay and I have to...confirm what the lecturer said, I could confirm with the recording data.

11 ‘Combat’

12 I was like bullied into it by people saying, oh, you’ll be left behind if you don’t use Facebook. So yes, that was when I got into it, so... And then... so now I would say Facebook, I’m not the most... like I said to you in the focus group, I’m a bit uncomfortable about the whole kind of like Big Brother aspect. (Sally Interview 1) 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, and the thing is not, I don’t so much mind being bombarded with advertising as I mind having things put about me on things like Facebook that I don’t want. 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)

13 ‘Coping’

14 In my school, I… we had… our staff room was equipped… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven… seven computers now we can use and only one of them attached with a printer. So, actually we’ve got six PGC students over there, so it’s, kind of, everybody wants to get to that computer where you can use the printer. Yes, so in the end I found actually I can also use the printer from the library in the school. So, six student teachers tried to use other computer. So, it, kind of, sometimes feels a bit crowded. And when the school staff want to use it, well, okay, it seems like we are the invaders, intruders?

15 Space and mobility Studying is not restricted to institutional premises Work, home, place of study, coffee shops, parks, etc. Students travel between various sites Country-to-country, work commitments away from home, conferences, etc. Many of our students used more than one library Nearly all our students use technology to support remote and immediate access to digital resources Ownership, size, portability, connectivity, access to, and ‘readability’ of remote resources are important factors. Students use mobile devices during ‘downtime’ or ‘dead time’ to catch up on their studies

16 16

17 For me the most important thing is portability, because I use technologies, ICT, everywhere I go, anywhere I go. For example of course I use some technologies, PCs and laptops and my iPad in the IOE building, and in the IOE building I use PC, I use them in PC room, in library, and for searching some data or journals. In the lecture room I record my, record the lectures and taking memos by that.



20 Managing identities Digital resources distribute student identities across different domains or contexts These varied for students, but a simple delineation was between private, professional and student identities Use of resources and practices from one area of life could support activity in another (e.g. creating a quiet place to study at home) Management of boundaries was an important issue, and could place extra demands on students (e.g. maintaining multiple email accounts)

21 Example: spatial boundaries

22 One of the challenges of undertaking an online course is that most probably you will do this alongside ‘other’ activities such as a job or other. As a result you end up with multiple email addresses and different folders, files and docs in your computer. I am finding that one needs to be very organised and a practical thinker in order to: retrieve the information you need, navigate between one and in the other.

23 Project blog: Project webpage: ng/developingdigitalliteracies/DigLitPGAttribute.aspx ng/developingdigitalliteracies/DigLitPGAttribute.aspx Project contacts: Lesley Gourlay ( Martin Oliver (

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