Poster - Senior Doctoral Fellows Luncheon Speaker Series 2015-16

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“Student perceptions of their participation and practice in an online literacy activity”

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Sally Walker Council Chamber, Room 2053, Wilson Hall

A light lunch will be served.


In modern university contexts students are increasingly expected to participate in online discussions as part of their course work, and North American faculty are increasingly using social media to host and facilitate these discussions (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013). In order to communicate effectively in university contexts where English is the medium of instruction, English as a second language students studying in English for academic purposes courses require opportunities to develop and practice their English computer-mediated communication skills. In 2013 a literacy activity that used Facebook Groups to host student online book clubs was introduced into the curriculum of the International Foundation Program at the University of Toronto. Informed by sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978), this paper presents insights gained through a content analysis of Facebook group page comments, a student questionnaire, and data collected from interviews with two case study students. Findings indicate that students read extensively beyond those books read for book club, demonstrated a high degree of cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000), and scaffolded (Bruner, 1983) each other’s learning as part of this interactive process.

Speaker bio

Chris Harwood is a PhD candidate in the Language and Literacies Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His research interests include computer-mediated communication, academic discourse socialization and blended student-centered learning. He has published articles on digital literacy and the use of social media in academic contexts, and presented his research worldwide.

Chris has 20 years’ teaching and research experience in English for academic purposes (EAP) and TESOL. He has taught in England, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Austria, Egypt and Thailand. His current research project examines how International Foundation Program instructors and their students understand their roles and participation in an online coursework activity. The study considers the pedagogical factors (and technological affordances) that facilitate or impede international student’s participation and practice in the online activity, and whether online academic literacy skills are practiced by students in the activity.

Date: March 8th, 2016
Start Time: 12:00pm
End Time: 2:00pm
Cost: Free
Location: Sally Walker Council Chambers, Room 2053, Wilson Hall
Contact: Deborah Knott