The “New” Net Generation: Writing Development of Creole-Influenced Adult Learners within a Virtual Learning Environment

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Historically, the term “net generation” refers to a younger group of individuals who grew up exposed to computerbased technology (Tapscott, 2008). Realistically, increasingly more adult/mature learners today are turning to the net, and growing up with it, in their pursuit of professional development (Allen & Seaman, 2014). Therefore, the digital space is no longer just for the young; adult learners are developing an ease and dexterity with it in their bid at educational advancement. However, given the hectic lifestyles of so many of today’s adults, those who wish to engage in further studies are finding it rather difficult or inconvenient to go to a physical brick and mortar location for classes. As such, easier access to higher education via virtual learning environments (VLEs) is becoming more attractive, especially to adult learners within the Anglophone Caribbean. The downside, however, is that English, the language of academic currency, poses a challenge to a majority of adult learners, who are themselves predominantly Creole speakers (Moore & Lewis-Fokum, 2016). Furthermore, upon acceptance to a higher educational institution these adult learners struggle with academic writing, which prevents them from actualizing their potential. Given this context, in this paper I use a case study approach to examine the writing development of selected graduate students from the School of Education, UWI, Mona, who engaged with a VLE to improve their writing and to meet the writing expectations of the institution’s academic discourse community. By tracing the learners’ stories – from interviews and archived documents – findings suggested that they experienced degrees of transformation as writers within a VLE. These findings, upon analysis, indicated relevance for policy, practice and theory for higher educational institutions within the Anglophone Caribbean. Further, this paper adds to an underexplored area, writing transformations of online graduate students operating within Creoleinfluenced contexts and VLEs. // Paper ID 266

Virtual Education,Adult Education,Higher Education