Implementing a Practice-Based Approach to Digital Literacy at a South African University

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

This paper contributes to the conceptualisation of digital literacy as a social practice, which is informed by the New Literacies Studies’ theoretical approach. The ideological approach adopted in this paper holds that literacy is about being able to participate in social practices and thus , a student who is capable of carrying out his/her disciplinary digital literacies is considered as being digitally literate. In other words, the higher education academic disciplines serve as contexts that determine the digital l iteracies

the discipline

specific digitally

mediated practices. The digital literacies conceptualisation informed the adaptation of Ng’s (2015) digital literacy framework to a digital literacy practices framework comprising the technical, cognitive and social

emotional dimensions. Using this framework, the study explored the digital literacy practices of a purposive sample of first year students from two extended degree programmes. One hundred and three students from the two disciplines (39 from Commerce and 64 from Humanities) completed the questionnaire. The data was analysed using Excel , and a Chi Square test was run to determine possible correlations between variables , where necessary . This paper thus interrogates findings from th e questionnaire data which reveal that the discipline

specific learning and assessment activities instantiated students’ digital literacy practices in the three dimensions. The paper discusses how these practices differ and/or overlap across the tw o disciplines. These findings suggest that integrating digital literacies into the course curricula by means of learning and assessment activities supports students in: (1) becoming digitally literate with respect to their respective disciplines ; and (2) a cquiring digital literacy practices deemed fit for learning and potential employability.// Paper ID 233

Higher Education,Digital Literacy
South Africa