Archive for October 5th, 2009

I’ve recently become and Apple computer user (I’ve been an iPod user for 5-6 years) and have yet to get to grips with Garageband etc.. Here’s a first go using images taken from my iPhone over the last 12 months:

YouTube Preview Image

Quite a thought-provoking article but a couple of claims earlier on got me going:

I contend that distinctions between academic and popular culture literacy practices are being similarly eroded within electronic environments. [...] Still, popular culture literacies are usually posited as being potentially (or already) at odds with the literacies present in and valued by the academy. Although I do not completely disagree, I believe that computer technologies are impacting literacy practices and both popular culture and academic contexts. [...] Universities operate within the same convergence culture as any other institution. (Carpenter 2009: 139)

Ok, I think I’m with Rick Christopher on most of the article (e.g. idea that literacies are plural, need to address dissonance between formal and informal literacy practices etc) but the above claims sound awfully like wishful thinking.

I think there’s a real opposition between academic literacies – and by that I mean the types of student text production deemed appropriate within HE ‐ and the sorts of text production enabled by new and emerging technologies that we might call vernacular literacies.

I contend that digital text‐making practices are de‐privileged within an HE system that remains wedded to a fixed genre set of primarily text‐based assessment activities such as the essay. There’s been patchy engagement with digital tools and environments and the possibilities for new forms of text production they offer.

Although we have seen, over the last decade, significant investment in ICT infrastructure and a sector‐wide adoption of VLEs, very few academics/tutors have thought through the implications of new and emerging technologies – and the types of text‐making practices they enable – to the production of academic work. Although most forms of assessed work are now produced using computer software such as Word and increasingly submitted online using ‘digital dropbox’ or assignment upload features of Virtual Learning Environments ‐ their underlying logic is essentially analogue. The word‐processed essays delivered to us via Blackboard or Moodle are minor variants of types of writing that are decades, if not centuries, old.

HE has embraced VLEs; it has not embraced the digital. The dominant mindset in HE is analogue – we’re not really engaging with the digital – with the exceptions of a few pockets of innovation (inc. this MSc).

I see no evidence for the claim that the distinction between academic (imposed, top-down) and vernacular (user-generated, bottom up) literacies is being eroded. On the contrary, I see quite a lot of boundary policing and resistance to ‘convergence culture’.. One example would be the recent Faculty Focus report on Twitter use in US universities. What was significant about the findings were the reservations many expressed about Twitter’s suitability in higher education.

For example, the perception of triviality persists: “It seems to be a stupid time-eating worthless pursuit”, “I think it’s mostly a waste of time and energy”,  “I have enough other ways to waste time, none of which are as silly as this one” and “It’s beneath my dignity” (Faculty Focus 2009: 5) as does the perceived deleterious influence of Twitter on students’ academic literacy practices: “logical arguments cannot well be delivered in short bursts”, “[Twitter] [p]erpetuates poor written and oral communication skills”  “[m]ost of the discussion is worthless and unrelated to the academic enterprise” and, more categorically, “I am sick of student writing that is unprofessional. I am also tired of receiving student work that has incomplete sentences, fragments, subject-verb agreement mistakes, point of view mistakes, tense mistakes. Students need to learn how to write on at least a 13th grade level and on-line discussions, twitter, texting, etc. does not help them. NO! I will not use this in my classes!” (Faculty Focus 2009: 6).

Please, please comment on this post with a case study showing me I’m wrong!


Faculty Focus (2009). Twitter in Higher Education: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College Faculty. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from