Reuse and digital literacies

As we have been writing our final reports for the Mosaic project it has become clear that our recommendations around reuse come in two main areas, those for people thinking of making materials available for reuse and those for people who are doing the reusing.  In the case of the latter it is becoming increasingly clear that both students and academics need  skills that they currently do not necessarily have, to engage with reused and repurposed materials, and that these skills are part of the broader subset that might be called digital literacies.Through our critical friend discussions it became clear that developing courses with significant use of external content had the potential to change the pedagogy of many existing courses.  It suggested a movement towards the development of online learning experiences that facilitate student interactions with existing content, their tutor and peers, rather than developing the ultimate content that will help your student learn.

A real skill for effective reuse, both for academics and students, is assessing digital information, and while these requirements have been brought to prominence by the growth of the web, much of the skill set involved in judging the value of sources has nothing to do with whether they are online or not.  We would aspire that all sources presented to our students should be critically assessed by them in the course of their study.  Thus, as part of the academic experience we want to build, not all content in the course is necessarily presented as perfect or right, but as something which gives a useful perspective on the topic being studied, in the context of a series of activities that scaffold them in making their own judgment about the materials presented.

There is more to digital literacy than just this, and I am following with interest the work of the LLiDA project which is looking at learning literacies in UK HE and FE, which they define as “the range of practices that underpin effective learning in a digital age”.  However it seems clear that for learning experiences made of existing content to really work, these skills need to be consciously addressed.

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