Crossing boundaries: digital and non-digital literacy practices in formal and informal contexts in further and higher education

Satchwell, Candice orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8111-818X, Barton, David and Hamilton, Mary (2013) Crossing boundaries: digital and non-digital literacy practices in formal and informal contexts in further and higher education. In: Literacy in the Digital University: Critical perspectives on learning, scholarship and technology. Research into Higher Education . Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-53796-4

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This chapter explores the literacy practices – both digital and non-digital - of students in further education and staff in higher education. We consider notions of boundaries from the perspective of individuals, while situating their practices within the broader demands of different institutions in the rapidly changing post-school sector. We draw on data from two projects: the Literacies for Learning in Further Education (LfLFE) project (Ivanic et al 2009), and an ongoing study of academics’ writing practices in relation to their uses of digital technology. We expand on a framework developed during the LfLFE project to examine crucial issues including time and space, identity and values, which are associated with different literacy practices in different domains. This analysis goes some way to explaining how relationships between literacy and technology, and between literacies in different domains of life (home, work, college) are by no means straightforward, nor directly transferable. The participants in our research are diverse, as are their literacy practices: we conclude that boundaries are construed very differently by different people, and technologies are acting to dissolve boundaries of time and space in ways that are sometimes welcomed, sometimes resisted by users. We conclude that a literacy studies approach can help untangle the elements of social practice that are in alignment or conflict with digital literacy, and so aid understanding of outcomes in specific settings.
The chapter will have practical implications for lecturers and learning support staff in further and higher education in the UK and internationally, by providing insight into students’ engagement with different literacy practices and indicating ways of improving learning. It will also be of value to academics and researchers in tertiary education with an interest in relationships between formal and informal contexts for learning.

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