Digital and multimodal: shifts in vocational higher education academic literacy and textual practices

14 Jun 2017

This article reports on a research study that explored students? assignment production in a vocational web design and development course in South Africa. In this course, digitally-mediated multimodal texts dominated the assessment regime, while written texts like essays were less prominent. Informed by an academic literacies perspective, this study used an ethnographically orientated research methodology to explore the research question ?What are the student academic literacy practices in the web design and development course?? A thematic analysis highlighted how the academic and professional contexts of web design and development and its interrelationship in the curriculum influenced the kinds of texts and academic literacy practices that gained status in the course. The findings of this study highlight the dominance of literacy and textual practices associated with the professions and challenge the continued dominance of essayist literacies, especially in vocational higher education. The argument presented in this article adds weight to the increased recognition that the textual and literacies landscape of the university is shifting, while also emphasizing the central role played by the academic environment in the shaping the digital and multimodal texts and practices that are privileged.