Literacy and e-learning: Mining the action research data

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In this project researchers and teachers (ECE, primary, and secondary) worked together to analyse unpublished data from a range of action research inquiries on e-learning to articulate, investigate, and build theory about the literacy learning that takes place in e-learning contexts. This summary report provides an overview of our cross-project analysis. The teachers’ web cases provide further insight into classroom observations. 

Key findings: 

  • There was evidence of students in all sectors (ECE, primary, and secondary) encoding and decoding, making meaning with, using, and thinking critically about texts in visual, audio, gestural, spatial, print, and multimodal modes. There was less evidence of students developing critical literacy, and this was so across all sectors.
  • Teachers used ICTs to provide students with opportunities to engage in multiple modes, with multiple texts, through multiple technologies, all in the one activity in a way that would be difficult if constrained to only traditional pen and paper. There was evidence to suggest that opportunities afforded by e-learning contexts to work across a range of modes supported engagement and achievement in reading and writing print texts, especially for students with a history of underachievement in these areas.
  • Teachers used ICTs to scaffold students' literacy learning, enabling students to engage with texts and tasks at a range of levels, including levels beyond what might be expected in more traditional print-based classrooms.

The findings of this research suggest that teachers with a futures focused approach to education can use ICTs to amplify opportunities for the types of literacy learning needed for living and learning in the 21stcentury. The researchers saw examples of ICTs being used across ECE, primary and secondary school settings to:

  • Personalise literacy learning and cater for diversity by providing students with a range of modes in which to interpret and construct text. ICTs gave students greater choice about how to make meaning of and with texts and opportunities to specialise according to their strengths and interests. 
  • Build community partnerships to support literacy learning: ICTs gave students new opportunities to share their texts with, and elicit feedback from, people in time andplace that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
  • Collaborate: There was some evidence to suggest that students were more likely to: contribute to group discussion, engage in more balanced discussions, to look at and discuss each others’ work, to elicit and respond to feedback from peers, to take greater risks in what they were prepared to ask or say, and to engage in more thoughtful and extended discussions.