Friday, 26 June 2009

LfLFE remarks

I've also been working through Improving Learning in College - Rethinking Literacies across the curriculum from the Literacies for Learning in FE project (£20 from Amazon - I paid for it myself as a contribution to cost-cutting at the OU, hope Martin Bean is grateful).

This is a whole book (200+ pages) reporting on an intensive 3-year research project so I haven't been able to do much more than dip in and out, for the moment, but here are my margin notes so far, for what they are worth:

* p.19 the research focuses particularly on written language - as might be expected from applied linguists - I've been arguing for a view of online communication as written language for some time, mainly in response to the dominant view in online learning of it as interaction (the same as F2F only without bodies). It is getting more complicated though - multiple modes are increasingly prominent (even though, for the moment, written text remains king, in our virtual classrooms at least).

* p.19 Literacy as a 'resource for learning across the curriculum' - yes but let's not forget that resources have constraints as well as enablements. Literacies tie you into power relations.

* p.78 Different constructions put on the concept of 'essay' & the relevance of these practices to students who were being prepared either for further study or for a specific occupation. The differences between the FE and HE contexts recur continuously in this research and make me wonder if we really can talk about the 'Digital University' as an overall idea embracing all contexts of post-school education? Is there a sharp and necessary distinction between preparing someone for an occupation and advancing their education?

* p.88 the 'doubling of literacy practices in order to provide evidence for assessment' refers to adding college-based reading and writing activities which are for assessment purposes only, to the situated literacies of occupational contexts like being a waiter in a restaurant. Do these college-based academic literacies only serve assessment purposes? Haven't they got a learning purpose too - something to do with meta-description (I remember a paper by Diana Laurillard on the different kinds of learning in education and 'real life' - there's a summary of one of her talks on this on the MIT TLL site).

* p.90 'the learning log as a genre that uses features of style and design that are unlikely to be encountered elsewhere' - much like the essay, in fact, once you are out of the study context. But, back to the previous point, these formal literacy practices should surely be serving something other than a hoop-jumping purpose.

* p.121 In terms of changing practice, the research did not find any lecturers developing the 'practices involved in becoming and being a student' - these seems to me to relate to the LLiDA comments about focus on learning development as opposed to learning content.

* p.125 Categorising changes in practice in terms of college-based, work-based and 'border' practices became more problematic as the project progressed. Like the broad distinction between 'academic' and 'vernacular' literacies? In the DLHE project we have also had difficulties with the notion of 'boundaries' between literacy practices and spheres of activity (eg: home and study).

*p.170 ... but some sort of bordering processes are at play... and the interface between formal and informal learning contexts is clearly a framing issue for the digital university and a key focus for the Literacy in the DU seminars.

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