The social uses of the online chatroom as a boundary object for the acquisition of academic literacy in pandemic times
Keywords:Academic literacies, boundary object, chatroom, critical discourse analysis, pedagogy of discomfort, social uses
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for ongoing pedagogic changes in the higher education landscape, especially with the use of online modes of delivery. The digital shift triggered questions around student engagement and the need to ensure that, despite physical distancing, students did not feel alienated from online learning spaces. This was part and parcel of our ethics of care prerogative. In the context of teaching academic literacy online, our teaching experiences have prompted us to interrogate how we understand student participation and sense-making in online spaces during the pandemic. This is particularly important for us, as we view academic literacy as a set of socially embedded practices rather than decontextualised skills (Street, 1983). We argue that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the online chatroom as a boundary object (Bowker & Star, 2000) was recruited as a proxy for the traditional classroom. We focus on how this boundary object was recruited by us as academic literacy lecturers in our first-year academic literacy course to realise certain features of our pedagogy of discomfort. Through a critical discourse analysis of written interactions in the chatroom, we explore how we as lecturers constrained the multiple social uses of the chatroom in order to imbue it with a particular function, a sense-making space for the acquisition of academic literacy in the context of ‘Emergency Remote Teaching’.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Aditi Hunma, Moeain Arend, Gideon Nomdo
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.