Exploring the potential of digital storytelling in the teaching of academic writing at a higher education institution in the Western Cape
Writing is an important skill throughout learners’ schooling trajectory because it is through writing that learners need to situate meaning and sense-making across the curriculum. Writing proficiency becomes even more important when learners access tertiary studies. Yet studies suggest that most students struggle with academic writing. Various authors suggest that writing has not been taught appropriately especially in secondary schooling contexts in South Africa and that writing becomes even more daunting for Second Language speakers of English when they reach tertiary education. There is abundant literature on students’ challenges with academic writing and ways to address academic writing challenges but the use of digital storytelling in relation to academic writing development is recent and distinctively underexplored in the literature. In this study, I seek to explore the potential that digital storytelling has in the teaching of undergraduate academic writing skills. I will focus on first year students' academic writing skills, how they are taught currently and how technology in the form of digital storytelling can help first year students improve their academic writing skills. The theoretical framework for the study is largely based on the New Literacies Studies which is championed by members of the New London Group such as Street and Street (1984) Lea and Street (2006) among others. The theoretical framework will draw on the notion of literacy as social practice rather than a set of reading and writing skills which explains why educators need to find new ways of teaching academic writing skills. I use semiotics and multimodality as a foundational concept for using digital storytelling in academic writing. That is because semiotics and multimodality further support the idea that literacy goes beyond words but that audio and visual elements are also part of learning and can help engage students in their academic work. The main aim of this proposed research is to explore both students and lecturer practices of digital literacies in the teaching and learning of academic writing at The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).