Undividing the digital! The power of narrative research and critical realism to uncover the hidden complexities of students’ digital practice

Kuhn, C (2017) 'Undividing the digital! The power of narrative research and critical realism to uncover the hidden complexities of students’ digital practice.' In: Volungeviciene, A and Szűcs, A, eds. Diversity matters! Proceedings of the European Distance and E-Learning Network 2017 Annual Conference, Jönköping, 13-16 June, 2017. European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN), Budapest, Hungary, pp. 280-295. ISBN 9786155511189

Official URL: https://proceedings.eden-online.org/wp-content/upl...


It looks like the emerging media and the new technological landscape brings some magical change with it. Furthermore, those changes are mostly seen as inevitable and always for the better enabling students to access effortlessly some kind of inevitable progress. Thus the usual questions asked in the field tend to be related with what works? performativity and efficiency, narrowing the understanding of these issues and avoiding as Selwyn (2017) reminds us the problematisation of the use of technology in education. This paper aims to challenge these assumptions by telling the story of thirty-two undergraduates at an English University that struggle to understand online tools and services, finding themselves more like visitors of the Web than residents. Adopting a more conservative stance and scrutinising the state-of-the-actual, I decided to explore the current digital practice of students, placing the digital inside the texture of everyday life. I used mapping as a means to enquire weather, how and why students engage with digital tools and platforms in formal and informal settings. Constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) has been used for sampling, collecting and analysing the data. Despite the euphoria and enthusiastic rhetoric of many educational technologists (Oliver, 2011; Selwyn & Facer, 2013), the participants of this study have not yet changed their behaviours nor their attitudes towards learning. Instead what is observed is how participants cling to the structures and practices they are familiar with being reluctant to explore let alone adopt new tools for their academic practice. This reality reinforces an increasing ‘digital inequality’ (DiMaggio et al., 2004) stemming from individuals who have access to the Internet. The results include valuable insights that allow for a deeper understanding of students’ voice, their experience, struggles, and needs regarding their digital practices in academic settings. Some of these elements can be hindering students to experience a more critical and productive engagement with digital literacies for learning and researching. Inspired and driven by the results of this study I argue for the need to deliver a more realistic and inclusive student experience that includes scaffold and support regarding the critical engagement with digital literacies and practices; an experience that takes into account the voices of the most unconnected and vulnerable students as well as the specialists users of technology.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Divisions: School of Education
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Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2021 09:07
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:56
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14136
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