Digital Literacies in Writing-Intensive Courses

written by admin on August 26, 2014 in Doing EL and Writing with no comments

by Jessie L. Moore

Writing-Intensive Courses – one of the high-impact practices identified by George Kuh (2008; see also AAC&U’s High-Impact Educational Practices) – can and should be attentive to the evolving nature of writing. Writing in the 21st Century happens everywhere – offline and online – and necessitates greater comfort writing with varied technologies and in multiple genres.

Students already are writing extensively, across genres, and with a range of technologies. Yet students arguably are doing more 21st century writing outside the classroom than they are doing in writing-intensive courses, where students are finding more invitations to experiment with form but still are writing most often to an “examiner” or instructor.

In addition to including digital literacy activities and assignments appropriate to writing in the discipline, faculty across the university can help students inventory the digital literacies they routinely use outside the classroom and consider how those literacies might be relevant to a writing-intensive course and to writing in students’ fields of study. Dana Driscoll, for example, describes using a literacy journal to help students track and reflect on their digital literacies.

Faculty teaching writing-intensive courses also can use digital literacies in their classes and assignments to support other student learning goals. Rebecca Pope-Ruark discusses using an e-portfolio technology to teach organization strategies. The technology helps students visualize the structures they used and the information hierarchies they established in their previously print documents.

In 21st century writing-intensive courses, disciplinary learning goals are not subsumed by digital literacies. Rather, digital literacies function as strategies and tools that faculty can teach students to use critically and reflectively to better meet disciplinary writing conventions and to better reach 21st century disciplinary audiences.


The videos featured in this post were produced by the Center for Engaged Learning, with support from the Revson Foundation.


Jessie L. Moore (@jessielmoore) is the Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University and associate professor of Professional Writing & Rhetoric in the Department of English.