“Strangers in Paradise”: The challenges of the Digital frontier for students – by Salo Moodley

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Presentation details

Presenters: Salo Moodley

Institution: University of the Western Cape

Contact:  pumoodley@uwc.ac.za; salo.moodley@gmail.com

Conference: presented at the 2016 Inter-Institutional ECP Symposium in Cape Town

Host: Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Abstract

“Strangers in Paradise”:  The challenges of the Digital frontier for students.

Exploring alternative strategies to enhance Digital Academic Literacy skills, using the main outcomes of the Academic Literacy for Business Module (ALB 131)

Ms Salo Moodley, Lecturer: Academic Literacy for Business, Department of Academic Development, Faculty of EMS, UWC

First year students in the Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP), at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), are expected to develop a particular set of skills and competencies in the Academic literacy for Business module (ALB), including Digital Academic literacy.   Many students in the ECP Programme generally come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have not been adequately exposed to the use of computers as a prior learning experience.  Further to this, they have not had access to computers in their homes and do not have their own computers at University.  Thus many students exhibit a serious lack of confidence in the area of Digital Academic Literacy, impacting negatively on their performance at University.  The troubling concern is that these first year students are required to interact with all of their modules using the IKAMVA platform, the formal information technology site utilized at UWC for students and staff.  But the central question is, if students struggle to navigate the Ikamva platform, how can they be expected to access crucial information pertaining to their respective modules of study, complete require tasks and submit timeously?  This research paper focuses on exploring the practicality of immersing students more intensively in digital academic literacy, using the ALB module as the key tool for developing the required skills and competencies.  The central argument is that if digital Academic skills and competencies are dramatically improved, first year students are likely to be more successful at University.  The paper draws principally on Vygotsky’s (1978) Community of practice and social learning theories.  Finally it is argued that Universities need to seriously review their current models envisioned to develop students Digital Academic competencies, as inadequacies in this sphere can be a critical factor impacting negatively on student success rate in their first year at University.

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