The The Comm. Skills Online Project: A Tentative Exploration of the Interrelationship between Traditional Page-bound Literacy, Computer Literacy and the Development of Academic Literacy
This paper tentatively explores the interrelationship between traditional page-bound literacy, computer literacy and the development of academic literacy in a pilot study Communication Skills course for students at a multicultural technikon. The course was designed as a web-based learning project, and in 2003 was run for over 600 semester students in various modes of delivery, ranging from optionally-online in a conventional lecturing setting to predominantly-online in a computer laboratory environment. Tentative conclusions were drawn from lecturer observations, the assessment of student work, a feedback questionnaire, and the electronic texts generated by students. It was concluded that students acquire computer literacy relatively rapidly when engaged in focused Internet searches on professionally relevant themes, and that the Internet search and report-back not only constitute a form of academic literacy, but also develop basic research capacity. There was also evidence to suggest that the ICT enhancements used in the course had the potential to develop proficiency in both reading and writing. The course was adapted slightly with the intention of running it again in 2004, this time for 150 students, but including an annual group, which would provide more detailed data over a longer period: the intention was to focus on more specifically on key areas in literacy, such as students’ reading habits, and to administer a questionnaire before as well as after the course. More emphasis would be put on using email and discussion facilities in order to explore their potential for developing fluency in writing and English language proficiency.
Dee Pratt (South Africa)
Department of English & Communication Steve Biko Campus
Durban Institute of Technology
Dee Pratt taught high school English for 22 years, joined the Department of English & Communication at the Durban Institute of Technology (formerly Technikon Natal) in 1990, and is now senior lecturer and Online Faculty Mentor for Arts. Qualifications: master’s degree in Applied Linguistics, currently working on a Ph.D. in CAI/Written Composition.
(Virtual Presentation, English)