Ockham’s Razor Makes Me Smile: Managing New Literacy Practices in Off Shore University Course Work in the Digital Age

  •  Barb Garrick    


Managing international cohorts of students who undertake workplace learning in countries other than the country of their host university can be a very complex and difficult process. University academics are accustomed to personal, face to face contact with their students. When students then move offshore, but remain the responsibility of the academics, there is often difficulty working in a virtual world of communication. This sorely tests the participants’ concept of teaching and good pedagogy and can lead to the academic feeling a loss of intimacy or with-it-ness with their students. This paper investigates the use of a very simple social media tool to stay in regular and personal contact with students during their off-shore work placements. The paper will show that contact with students within a virtual environment up until recently is usually undertaken using older literacy practices such as emails. These simply become an electronic form of a handout or letter. Although crafted to avoid ambiguity, the emails nevertheless seem not to work in a virtual environment as they would do in a face to face environment. Drawing upon the literature, the point is made in this paper that contact with students in virtual environments can be made using social media tools that involve newer literacy practices.

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