Best Practice

Integrating Digital Literacies


I have changed my assessment requirements to integrate Digital Literacies into my courses. Iterating assessment types through an honours seminar course that had only 20 students per year it was a laboratory to test ideas and see what worked and what did not.

I have written many essays, and at the coalface of English 101 I have corrected hundreds of essays per year.  The deluge of A4 that surrounded us all at one point threatened to engulf
the office and the corridor.  The essay is a form of assessment that serves us well. It allows the student a long form through which they introduce, develop and sustain an argument, consider antitheses and to come up with a synthesis with a bibliography that contextualises their learning and situates their work within the discipline.

Embedded digital literacy skills meant that instead of writing an essay that only I would see, I asked that they begin a portfolio of online writing that would be visible to the class, and to the world.  Whilst they maintained the integral critical abilities of the essay form they also learned how to write for the web.  They learned that writing and content creation for online environments is fundamentally different to writing for the A4 page, both augmenting and sustaining their existing writing – integrating social media practice and encouraging them in peer to peer evaluation.  They read each other’s work, they engaged in conversations outside the university and those conversations are still visible to the next generation of students – this gives their work an open and transparent quality, that yielded a significant improvement in quality. 

Working from within the UCC domain outwards to more ubiquitous models, including WordPress, and just plain HTML has yielded positive results.

Past examples are here:

This has meant that students become fluent in a set of skills that augment and sustain core critical thinking and analytical writing skills.

They come together to create the class site – which is a team creation, with clear roles assigned.  They have an accessible portfolio of work.  They have acquired a skillset that may be embedded in any course – moving from description, through evaluation and analysis to creativity.  They must consider copyright, the  interface, and albeit at times working through templates – think beyond A4

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