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Pathways to Competence and Participation in the Digital World

Casey, Leo (2009) Pathways to Competence and Participation in the Digital World. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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Abstract

This research used grounded theory practice to investigate how and why adults approach their own learning for basic digital literacy. Specifically, the questions of how we should characterise learning for digital literacy and what are the key influences on the learning decisions of adults undertaking a basic computer course were addressed. The actions and experiences of students of Know IT, a blended learning course intended to enhance basic computer skills in the Irish workplace, provided a context for this inquiry. New insights derived from this research are intended to inform and improve future pedagogic design for technology enhanced learning in adults People with low levels of basic skills are seriously disadvantaged in relation to their ability to adapt to changes in the workplace and to participate in further training. This is particularly true for people in need of basic computer skills and digital literacy. Members of this group are often experienced in other areas of work and may feel undermined by the introduction of new technology. Digital literacy is also becoming increasingly important for participation in many social and economic activities of everyday life. Individuals who are excluded from such participation feel left behind and alienated and desire to be competent. The Know IT pilot project was a workplace learning intervention designed to improve basic everyday computer skills in adults. It used a blended learning approach and consisted of a self-instructional CD ROM, a learner’s journal and optional attendance at tutorials for direct instruction. Data from a specifically administered self-response survey as well as other sources was used to paint a broad profile of the characteristics of the student group. Qualitative interviews were conducted with ten course participants and grounded theory practice was used to construct an independent analysis of their conceptions of learning influences, motive and actions. Four individual stories are also presented to provide insights from a life narrative perspective. Three significant concepts emerged from independent analysis as the Digital World, Competence Desire and Learning Identity. The interplay between these three constructs provides the impetus and informs individual strategies for learning. Further conceptualisation leads to learning described as pathways to competence and participation in the digital world. The insights from this research suggest that e-learning designers should use strategies that focus on harnessing positive conceptions of the digital world, nurturing desire for specific rather than general competence and supporting the establishment of a positive learner self-concept.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Adult and Community Education; Ireland; Literacy; Grounded theory; Digital literacy.
Subjects: Social Sciences > Adult & Community Education
Item ID: 1545
Depositing User: IR eTheses
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2009 09:57
URI:

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