n Education as Change - Access and resistance : challenges of using on-line environments to teach academic discursive practices

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1682-3206
  • E-ISSN: 1947-9417
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As our literacy landscape is changing and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are becoming an ineluctable part of our future, we need to become aware of the ways in which technology can be used to enhance our broad educational objectives. A multiplicity of representational and communicative potentials is important to explore in Higher Education in South Africa, where there is still differential access to economic, educational and cultural resources. This study looks at using ICTs to teach certain academic literacy practices within a particular curriculum, a first year course for educationally disadvantaged students in an Engineering Foundation Programme. In particular, it focuses not only on how ICTs can aid writers in identifying with and acquiring the language of a discourse community, but also on how they can function as a forum for resisting the language and values of that discourse community. Through social semiotic analysis, this paper examines on-line discussions between students and 'experts', and students' comments on each other's writing. It shows how by using the language of text messaging and e-mail, by adopting different identities, dialects and social registers, the students in this study were able to create a 'liberated zone' for themselves - partaking in academic discourse, whilst also questioning it to some extent. Finally, some implications for curriculum design using ICTs in teaching certain academic literacy practices are highlighted.

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