Literacies in the ‘digital university’ #MyEdDModule

2014-07-18 15.11.54

Goodfellow, Robin (2013) The Literacies of ‘digital scholarship’ – truth and use values, Chapter 5 in Goodfellow and Lea (Eds) Literacy in the digital university: critical perspectives on learning, scholarship and technology, Society for Research into Higher Education, London: Routledge 

This chapter comparatively explores two texts from the perspective of literacies in the digital university. Through an examination of the macro and micro literacy practices – values, beliefs, attitudes and practices that inform how texts are produced, he argues for a distinction to be made between truth value and use value. Both texts are academic texts; they emerge from slightly different discourse communities and are intended for different audiences. As such – one text – the more conventional text – is more fully grounded in published literature, has a distant objective authorial voice, and is intended for a particular academic community. The other text (despite the affordances of hyper-linked intertextuality) is less grounded in scholarly literature, has a dialogic voice which emerges from its emergence out of an on-line community of academic scholars, and is published with values that are explicit in their intention to be open. Goodfellow is critical of the claims to be ‘open’ suggesting that ‘open’ means more than available free of charge through the publisher’s website on the internet.

His main argument is that, in the literacies of digital scholarship,  there is a distinction between the values that underpin each of the texts. Both texts are academic. But in one instance the writer leans towards a ‘truth’ value. They are rigorous, authoritative, grounded and empirical. In the other ‘academic text’ the writer leans toward use. The text is written with a more open audience in mind. It is conversational, less reliant on the literature, communicative and free. He suggests that these values are consistent with and an expression of the values of the knowledge community that comprise the texts audience. Goodfellow is critical of the collapse of a distinction between ‘digital’ and ‘open’. Being one does not equate to being the other. 

This is a fine illustration of a literacies approach to understanding scholarship in the digital university. Goodfellow offers a typology of audiences – professional, academic, amateur or citizen – suggesting that each of these will have different knowledge values. He also predicts that this distinction between the digital and the open may well be the defining dichotomy for the university of the future. 

I like Goodfellow’s methodology – using a critical discourse analysis to review these texts, but with the emphasis placed not on the content of each of the texts as such, but on their anthropological roots. It is apparent that Goodfellow is less empathetic towards the text that makes claims to being open. The paper is premised upon questioning and critiquing this claim.  His final comment seems a direct response to the writers’ predictive assertions made elsewhere  that in the future scholarly publishing will be primarily digital. That digital literacies will have a transformative effect on the university. 

Time will tell.

Weelere @ LSE



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