Skip to content

Learningcreep Posts

POT Cert Week 1: hello fellow POTcerters

My name is Helen Crump and I’m currently an adult literacy tutor. Recently though, as part of an MA in Technology, Learning, Innovation and Change, I’ve been investigating digital literacies within higher education. I’d like to take advantage of the brilliant opportunity that the online POT cert course offers to develop this into maybe a CPD module for faculty or possibly learning support for students. I’m also excited to begin a journey exploring online teaching and learning.

I now live on the West coast of Ireland, but originally I’m from Nottingham, England. I love learning and exploring all sorts of different things, consequently I’ve always got a project on the go and a trip or two planned. I especially enjoy hiking and camping trips. I just walked coast to coast across England. I walk plenty in Spain too but dream of just wandering out of my front door with nothing more than some bread and cheese wrapped in a red spotted hanky (that’s not strictly true; I’d take an iPhone along too). For now though, let the POT cert journey begin.

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.


Connection and Digital Literacies at PELeCON 2012

PELeCON  is the Plymouth Enhanced Learning Conference #pelc12 @PeleCON. I have just returned home from attending it for the first time and would like to share my experience of how I came to be at PELeCON, what I learnt from it and how much fun it was to be there.
Fairly and squarely I have Twitter to thank. Just over a year ago, through either random or astute following, I discovered Steve Wheeler @timbuckteeth whose tweets opened up mind-blowing access to resources, current information and a network of people interested in Web 2.0 technologies and digital literacies. This was in tandem with Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies @C4LPT and her advocacy of Twitter as a tool for professional development. So how lucky was it for me that these two forces came together at PELeCON 2012.
The conference theme, importantly for me, was create, connect and collaborate with digital literacy and literacies presenting a strong influence on the programme. It was this call to connect and the role of digital literacies that greatly resonated with me during the conference. For me digital literacies are not simply skills or the competent use of technologies but social practices embedded in contexts that carry meaning for those involved. This was brilliantly highlighted by David Mitchell @DeputyMitchell who spoke about the impact that blogging has had in his school, transforming reluctant or ambivalent classroom writers into enthusiastic bloggers. The reason for this, one insightful and honest pupil explained to him, was the he, the teacher, “wasn’t real”. They wanted to write with purpose for a real audience. In matters of literacy, it must be acknowledged that power, access and identity are ever present considerations.
The desire to connect with a real audience, I feel, chimes with sentiments expressed by Alec Couros @courosa in the conference’s closing panel discussion. He sees the central challenge to learning as being “the movement of education to life”.
The call for improved connection was also made by Nick Laycock @alc47 and associates in a panel discussion looking at the disconnect between learning and the workplace. This was re-inforced by Jane Hart’s keynote, which highlighted the learning practices that smart autonomous learners/workers are increasingly turning to.
Connection amongst delegates was a key feature of the conference as plenty of time and space was made for networking. Here I must thank Catherine Cronin @catherinecronin and Sharon Flynn @sharonlflynn, my travelling companions, who helped with introductions allowing me to settle in to the PELeCON swing and make connections of my own.
Useful Websites:
David Mitchell’s keynote –
QuadBlogging _ a leg up to an audience for your class/school blog.