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Category: Digital Literacies

Hospitality: a promising philosophy for designing online courses & fostering critical digital literacies #moocmooc

In addition to POT Cert, I’ve enrolled on a few other MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The first of which, entitled MOOC MOOC, takes a look at the phenomenon of MOOCs themselves…, naturally.

And it was here, within the customary introduction stage of the course a reference by Kate Bowles @KateMfD  to “hospitable pedagogy” immediately caught my eye. The reason being that only last week I read “Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis” where, in the chapter by Anna Smith and Glynda Hull, I came across the concept of hospitality as an aspect of Cosmopolitanism (p.63-66).

On first encounter, the notion of hospitality really resonated with me (see why), and it did so again when it emerged in a #moocmooc Twitter chat as an associated concept of Internationalism. Ironically though, I missed the chat itself because of what might be considered the inhospitable pedagogical design of the MOOC MOOC course (time-zone grief!!).

Get a snapshot in Storify.

Hospitality forms a crucial part of cosmopolitan philosophy as it foregrounds our relationships with guests, outsiders, foreigners and others, and as such is significant for online participants in a global and digital age. As Kate points out, every online host is sometime a guest and every guest can be a host somewhere too. Furthermore, there are increasing opportunities for people of diverse ages, nationalities and socio-economic positions to engage with new kinds of texts in the digital sphere and make comment on social issues, provide entertainment, produce news or engage in learning activities. Increasing reciprocity between authors and readers and the fact that texts are virally distributed through the web and across networks gives increased possibilities to encounter “distant, unknown, imagined others” (p.64).

In a media sense, hospitality translates to an obligation to listen, which in turn translates to thoughtful openness towards pluralist meanings and to the inhibition of  prior assumptions. Consequently, in order to anticipate and accommodate not just issues of global housekeeping but also diverse cultural interpretations we must adopt not only new creative learning designs but new dispositions too, cosmopolitan practice in fact.

That’s what I’ve learned from my MOOC MOOC experience. Plus, I’m coming to think that it’s not so much the massiveness of the MOOC that’s important just as long as it’s open and online, and that a community may be preferable to a course. That’s why I’ll continue to call by and say “hello” to the good folks of the Hybrid Pedagogy community from time to time.


Smith A. and Hull G. Critical literacies and social media: fostering ethical engagement with global youth. In: Avila, JA and Pandya JZ eds. (2012)  Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis, Peter Lang Publishing, New York

It’s your text life – digital literacies in the digital university



Context: higher education, general 
This blog post has been prompted by my attendance at the 10th Galway Symposium on Higher Education (#celt12), which focused on the written word in the context of higher education and where, in the opening plenary entitled “Literacy in the Digital University”, Mary R. Leaentreated us to “step back and take a critical lens to changing knowledge making practices and the implications of these for understanding academic literacies in today’s digital university.”


In the first instance, it must be acknowledged that literacy can be variously conceptualised, with each conceptualisation signalling different concerns and approaches:
  • literacy as cognitive/transferable skill – reading and writing
  • literacy as capability (in anything) – e.g. computer literacy, emotional literacy, scientific literacy
  • literacy as situated/social practice – cultural

And further, that literacy is always changing, becoming redefined through historical moments of technological change. 

Indeed, largely to beget the production of texts, technologies have always been involved in learning. Thus, within higher education, an institution whose primary function is to produce and validate knowledge, textual production and the practices that support it are of paramount importance (Goodfellow and Lea, 2007). However, with digital technology now integral to society and valued knowledge becoming increasingly communicated in digital forms (Beetham et al., 2010), the nature of texts is changing and the concept of ‘digital’ becoming increasingly significant to higher education. Even so, given the centrality of texts, it seems to me that caution needs be exercised so as not to unduly valorise technology as the driver of change.

Moreover, an academic literacies perspective (Lea and Street, 2006) positions reading and writing as a set of social practices pertinent to the situated context of higher education and what is more, considers the relationship between texts and how both academics and students make meaning through these practices. Texts, and the technologies that produce them, embed ideologies and epistemologies. After all, knowledge is not just out there; it is always represented in and through the choices made in the production of texts. Consequently, the texts and supporting practices that become valorised within higher education must by implication valorise the ideologies and epistemologies therein. 

Thus, digital literacies are as much about one’s “text life” and what this represents as they are about one’s technology use. 
Beetham, H., Littlejohn, A. and McGill, L. (2010) Beyond competence: digital literacies as knowledge practices, and implications for learner development. LiDU (Literacy in the Digital University): Seminar Programmes, Seminar 2. 
Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M. R. (2007) Challenging e-learning in the university : a literacies perspective. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
Lea, M. R. and Street, B. V. (2006) The “Academic Literacies” Model: Theory and Applications. Theory Into Practice. 45(4), pp. 368–377.


Why Literacy – My introductory blog!!

Hey ho, here goes.
I suppose it’s no surprise that I became interested in literacy. I’ve been interested in making sense of the world ever since the world began, for me that’s 1967 (now the cat’s out of the bag), and later on how different people make sense of the world. My interest in literacies* stems from my family and working background in pubs and the hospitality industry and observing the meanings people attribute to reading, writing and oracy therein.
Although I am now an adult literacy tutor, this is very definitely a view of literacy as social practice (Street, 1984, Barton & Hamilton, 1998) as opposed to the traditional skills-based view. Understanding literacy as a social practice used in particular contexts for specific aims for me is very important, not only can it help to bring everyday life into educational contexts but it can help inform practitioners and policy-makers about aspects of motivation, new uses of literacy and/or technology and any difficulties that might be encountered.
What’s more, the advent of social media technologies has provoked new digital literacy practices, and this fascinates me greatly as they are embraced, shunned or treated with ambivalence by different people in different contexts. Whilst studying for an MA in Technology, Learning, Innovation and Change I started to perceive lecturers’ different dispositions towards adopting some of these new digital literacy practices and subsequently have begun to explore the context of Higher Education and digital literacies.
I hope to use this blog to ruminate, cogitate, grow, chuck in my two pence worth, showcase, signpost and share my excursions into literacy, digital or otherwise and always as a social practice. It is after all a Literacies Life.
*  literacies being pluralised represents the fact that different individuals require different literacies in different contexts, which is different over time.
Barton, D. & Hamilton, M., 1998. Local Literacies: Reading and Writing in One Community 1st ed., Routledge.
Street, B.V., 1985. Literacy in Theory and Practice, Cambridge University Press.