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I have recently been teaching a course on academic literacy to students studying for a doctorate at the Open University.  This is the first time for me although I taught EAP (mainly writing skills) to a group of Doctoral students at the University of Bristol for many years. 

The current course has existed for many years and I am taking over from previous tutors and, to some extent, building on what they have done rather than building a completely new course.  However, this is the first time it has been taught online.  There are certain constraints such as not being able to see each other and gauge desires and needs through expressions.  However, there are also some advantages like more people being able to access the course because they can do it from home (people were joining from other countries like Ghana and Cyprus as well as the length of the UK (several students in Scotland as well as some in the south of England).

We are using Adobe Connect, which is sometimes temperamental.  Today, I wanted students to analyse texts.  I first showed them in plenary and wanted participants to discuss them in a breakout room but they were not there when I expected them to be and would not load when I tried to download them.  This disconcerted me and I was about to exit and come back in (the equivalent of turning the computer on and off) but one student made the excellent suggestion that they take screen shots and then discuss from their screen shots.

This struck me as an example of the second mindset or the "new ethos stuff" that Lankshear and Knobel discuss.  I see the value of technology in helping learning but sometimes do not think creatively enough about this new way of thinking that technology enables.

Knobel, Michele and Colin Lankshear. 2007. “The New Literacies Sampler.” New York: Peter Lang, pp.2-17.  Available at https://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-2/knobel-and-lankshear-on-the-new-literacies  [Accessed 04/11/20]


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