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Journal Article

Digital Literacies in the Lives of Undergraduate Students: Exploring Personal and Curricular Spheres of Practice  pp207-216

Sylvia Jones, Mary R. Lea

© Nov 2008 Volume 6 Issue 3, Editor: Shirley Williams, Laura Czerniewicz, pp161 - 254

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This paper reports on the initial findings from a project which offers a complementary perspective to much of the research on e‑learning and student learning in a digital age. Rather than foregrounding technological applications and their associated affordances, its focus is on texts and practices and textual engagements in digital environments. Drawing on previous research into academic literacies (Lea & Street 1998; Lea & Stierer 2000; Lillis, 2001; Thesen & Van Pletzen 2006), it takes a textual lens to the experience of undergraduate students' learning in a digital age. The project contributes to our understanding of a changing environment in exploring the nature of literacies, learning and technologies and how these intersect in students' lives as learners. The research has been carried out in three very different institutions of higher education in the UK, using qualitative, text‑ based methods. Forty‑five undergraduates participated in the project and were interviewed on three occasions over a six month period. The interviews included discussions around their use of digital texts and technologies in their lives as students. In discussion with the research team, participants in the project accessed websites across a range of personal and curricular spheres, including social networking sites and resources directly or indirectly linked to their studies. They also showed examples of their work for assessment and guidance from tutors. This has provided a rich base from which to examine the nature of digital literacies for today's undergraduates and the implications of engagement in a range of texts and practices around technologies for learning.


Keywords: digital literacies social networking personal and curricular sphere, texts and technologies learning


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