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Digital literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? Project methodology. Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver Institute of Education, University of London Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute?. JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme

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digital literacies as a postgraduate attribute project methodology

Digital literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute?Project methodology

Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver

Institute of Education, University of London

digital literacies as a postgraduate attribute
Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute?
  • JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme
  • Institute of Education, University of London
  • Baseline work: iGraduate survey / Focus groups / multimodal journalling in year 1
  • Intervention studies in year 2:
    • Academic Writing Centre
    • Learning Technologies Unit
    • Library
ethical considerations
Ethical considerations
  • The project was passed by the institutional ethical approval committee; this involved:
    • Adoption of BERA principles
    • Informed consent, with assurances of anonymity, confidentiality and the right to withdraw
  • Incentives
    • Tokens & vouchers for focus groups
    • iPod for completion of journalling
  • Specific considerations with visual methodologies
    • Images / videos should not include identifiable individuals, minors, or scenes which may invade privacy
    • They should in any way compromise anonymity, confidentiality and the principle of informed consent
focus groups
Focus groups
    • A focus group for each course format
      • In our work, PGCE, MA students, PhD students, Online masters’ students
      • 8-10 students, invited by Students’ Union
    • Open with a mapping exercise, leading to discussion of what, where and when people study
    • Choose a small number of open-ended questions
      • 3-4 questions should be plenty for an hour’s discussion
  • Consider videoing the focus group
      • Useful if you need to identify individual speakers
      • Two people running the focus group, one taking notes and monitoring equipment
going deeper
Going deeper
  • Maps as a stimulus for initial one-to-one interviews
  • Questions to elaborate themes and issues:
    • Where and when do you undertake your study?
    • What resources do you use in each place?
    • Are spaces used at particular times, or in regular patterns?
    • Which spaces do you feel in control of? Where do you feel supported?
    • Are there spaces where you avoid undertaking certain kinds of work, and why?
longitudinal multimodal journalling
Longitudinal, multimodal journalling
  • 12 students recruited from the focus groups
  • 3 from each of the four groups (distance students via Skype)
  • A structured series of interviews, over 9-12 months
    • Opening with a digital ‘autobiography’, exploration of current practice, guidance on data generation
    • Between interviews, students capture images, video and other forms of documentation to explore engagement with technologies for study
    • Guidance needed for students in terms of ethics and themes
    • Over the series of interviews, students take greater responsibility for analysis of data, e.g. by producing presentations that curate, structure and theme the images they have created
image and interview excerpt
Image and interview excerpt

In my school, I… we had… our staff room was equipped… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven… seven computers now we can use and only one of them attached with a printer. So, actually we’ve got six … students over there, so it’s, kind of, everybody wants to get to that computer where you can use the printer. Yes, so in the end I found actually I can also use the printer from the library in the school.

So, six student teachers tried to use other computer. So, it, kind of, sometimes feels a bit crowded. And when the school staff want to use it, well, okay, it seems like we are the invaders, intruders?

our interview series overview
Our interview series overview
  • Series of interviews, focusing in on issues of interest
  • Interview 1
    • Discussion of maps, personal histories of technology use for learning
  • Interview 2
    • Discussion of initial images about places of study
  • Interview 3
    • Discussion of images about use of specific resources, areas or technologies identified as important in earlier interviews
  • Interview 4
    • Discussion of images and artefacts about the processes of producing a specific text (e.g. assessed work)
interpretation and analysis
Interpretation and analysis
  • Initial close reading of data to identify specific themes
  • Initial vignettes to illustrate important issues
  • Subsequently, ‘orientations’ named that describe patterns of practice (not types of student, since students show multiple orientations)
  • Thematic analysis of interview transcripts, supplemented by images and videos
    • Recurrent topics and issues identified and named
    • Evidence gathered in relation to each theme (coded in NVivo)
    • Themes related out to wider theory and practice
    • Analysis documented and presented in talks, reports and papers
example themes
Example themes
  • Findings are specific; each institution will need to identify issues that reflect its immediate situation
  • In our data set, the following themes were important:
    • Engagement with texts
      • Multimodality, accessing resources, managing resources, creating resources (particularly for assessment)
    • Spaces of study
      • Increased student mobility, distributed sites of study (classes, libraries, homes, workplaces, public transport), provision of infrastructures that support this
    • Identity
      • Managing boundaries between private, professional and study activities
implementing this in your context
Implementing this in your context
  • Visual methodologies can be used on a smaller scale to enhance small-scale research with staff or students
  • Maps, drawings, photos and videos can also be used as part of staff development
  • Provide the advantage of being more connected to practice, but can also be metaphorical
  • Can be memorable and lighthearted, can also elicit emotional reactions and so should be used carefully
Project blog:
  • Project webpage:
  • Project contacts:Lesley Gourlay ([email protected])Martin Oliver ([email protected])