Digital Culture & Education: Classroom perspectives

Thomas Apperley & Christopher S. Walsh
Published Online: Oct 15, 2010

Full Text: HTML, PDF (232 KB)

Students’ engagements with, and exposure to, digital cultures and technologies have important implications for teaching and pedagogies.  Questions arise in this constantly changing terrain, not just about content, but also what tools—both digital and analogue—best support learning.  This issue of Digital Culture & Education (DCE) brings together research that focuses on learners’ and educators’ encounters with, and use of, digital culture.  Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this issue steps beyond the pragmatic interests of present educational policy to consider the wider issues of digital culture’s influence on classroom teaching and learning.

In this issue we present articles that push the boundaries of research on digital cultures, teaching, and technologies in fruitful and generative directions.  Researchers and practitioners in this issue present case studies and analysis of practical classroom use of copyright literacies, learning management systems, mobile/cell phones, social video, Twitter, and Google Reader.  The articles demonstrate how the affordances of digital culture have shifted our understandings of how pupils learn as content can be accessed, designed, and shared.  Despite the affordances of digital culture, teaching and learning—with and through digital technologies—requires effective pedagogy.  Digital technologies are not ‘teacher-proof’ tools; they require thoughtful and thorough integration into pedagogy, in a manner that reflects carefully articulated instructional and learning goals.

Auld, Blumberg, and Clayton’s article “Linkages between motivation, self-efficacy, self-regulated learning and preferences for traditional learning environments or those with an online component”, assesses 96 law school students’ preferences for online, hybrid, or traditional learning environments, and explores the reasons for these preferences.  Using a discriminant analysis, the article suggest that the strongest predictors of preferences for non-traditional learning environments were familiarity with non-traditional learning environments, self-efficacy, and employment, while preferences for traditional learning environments were attributed to students’ familiarity and ability to engage in and foster personal interaction.  Preferences for hybrid and online environments were attributed to opportunities for enhanced learning and the convenience and flexible manner in which online environment could be accessed, which made them particularly suitable for students with time and familial constraints.

The second article, “Digital publics and participatory education”, by McNely, Teston, Cox, Olorunda, and Dunker describes a successful classroom project where social media was utilized in a final year university writing and rhetoric class to support the notion of students’ participating in a public discourse.  The authors argue that crucial to the success of the project was approaching blogging as a collective process. Previous work on blogging has positioned blogging as individual practices of reading and writing, while McNely et al. argue that blogging should be understood as a community activity.  Google Reader, a blog, and Twitter were used to support the development of a participatory, networked, community of writers, however, the course was also designed with the participation of the general public in mind.  The article is written and developed as a collaboration between the teachers of the class, students, and members of the wider public who were highly involved in the class’ online discussions.  The article’s premise is that sociocultural networks provide students with access to participation in digital publics, a process which is crucial for students to understand due to the increasing distributed qualities of knowledge work.

“MoViE: Experiences and attitudes—Learning with a mobile social video application” by Tuomi and Multsilta reports on a pilot study examining the use of mobile devices in a Finnish high school to teach “mobile literacies”.  Formed in a framework of experiential learning theory and activity theory, the study offers an excellent example of the implementation and use of mobile devices in the classroom.  Particularly interesting is how Tuomi and Multisilta’s project taps into students’ existing out-of-school literacies involving social media like YouTube, and how, by situating the classroom activities in relation to existing practices they were both able to draw on existing forms of peer-review in the assessment, and connect to the ongoing dialogues about privacy that accompany social media.  The authors suggest that the use of mobile video blogging increases participation in the learning process, and is able to deliver positive outcomes for students with different learning styles.  The article provides a useful analysis of the students’ responses to the use of mobile devices.  Particularly, the authors underscore the various favourable, unfavourable, and neutral (or indifferent) attitudes reported by the students’.  However, they argue that there was a clear benefit in using mobile devices as it enhanced the collaborative, creative, and social dimension of the learning tasks; not just among the students, but between the students and the teachers, who entered the tasks as learners also.

Sarah Lohnes Wataluk’s article, “‘You should be reading not texting’: Understanding classroom text messaging in the constant contact society” explores the controversial terrain of students’ in-class use of mobile phones, particularly for text-messaging.  This qualitative study, based on classroom observations and interviews at a US college is analyzed in a new literacies framework.  Lohnes Wataluk argues that the use of mobile phones in class by students suggests an undervaluation of pupils’ everyday literacies by institutions.  The article suggests that parallel to the broad social concern with using technology to maintain contact with social groups, local factors also shape the classroom use of mobile phones.  Lohnes Watluk points to the teachers approach to dealing with the disruptions caused by mobile phone use and the level of students’ engagement with the class materials as the two crucial local factors that determine the frequency of mobile phone use in the classroom.

In “Critical reading of a text through its electronic supplement”, Kieran O’Halloran explores how the abundant textual record of online engagements—a by-product of new social media platforms—may be productively used to inform the ‘primary text’.  Many of the billions of words across the world-wide-web in, for example, discussion forums, blogs and wiki discussion tabs are commentaries on a particular text and can thus be regarded as supplements to these texts.  O’Halloran flags the utility value of this electronic supplementarity for critical reading by demonstrating how a careful and measured analysis can reveal particular meanings that are marginalised or repressed in the ‘original’ text.  While the article takes its theoretical orientations from the textual intervention work of Rob Pope and Jacques Derrida, O’Halloran provides a detailed content analysis of online discussion forums—which are examined through electronic text analysis software—in order to illustrate his method.  The article argues that given increasing use and importance of textual social media, knowing how to explore these supplements with electronic text analysis software is essential.

“Copyright, digital media literacies and preservice teacher education” by Dezuanni, Kapitzke and Iyer examines the problems faced by teachers working with participatory media in the classroom.  The article draws on copyright workshops held with preservice teachers and students, examining materials made during the workshops and interviewing participants in order to examine the role of copyright literacy in the broader context of media literacies for preservice teachers.  The article aims to highlight the issues associated with fair copyright practices in order to demystify the role of copyright in media literacy classrooms.  Key to this, the authors argue, is balancing approaches to copyright that focus on creative participation, and those that emphasize issues about awareness of government and corporate regulations.  Dezuanni et al. suggest that the Creative Commons approach to copyright licensing offers a highly productive framework for preservice teachers and students to work through the ambiguities associated with copyright regulation and the use of participatory media in the educational context.

The cover image of DCE is courtesy of Pachinko Pictures an animation design studio based in Melbourne, founded in 2010 by award-winning filmmakers Ian W. Gouldstone and David G. Surman. They design and create animated content for many different spaces, from handheld devices to TV to large outdoor projections. For more information about Pachinko Pictures, visit their website at

DCE has an open call for proposals for the development of guest-edited special themed issues and cover art. Guest editors and artists should send a short proposal to for more information.

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Digital Culture & Education (DCE) is an international inter-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the exploration of digital technology’s impacts on identity, education, art, society, culture and narrative within social, political, economic, cultural and historical contexts.

We are interested in empirical and conceptual approaches to theorising globalisation, development, sustainability, wellbeing, subjectivities, networks, new media, gaming, multimodality, literacies and related issues and their implications for how we educate and why. We encourage submissions in a variety of modes and invite guest editors to propose special editions.

DCE is an online, open access journal. It does not charge for article submission or for publication. All manuscripts submitted to DCE are double blind reviewed. Articles are published through a Creative Commons (CC) License and made available for viewing and download on a bespoke page at


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The scale and speed at which digital culture has entered all aspects of our lives is unprecedented. We publish articles and digital works including eBooks (published under Creative Commons Licenses) that address the use of digital (and other) technologies and how they are taken up across diverse institutional and non-institutional contexts. Scholarly reviews of books, conferences, exhibits, games, software and hardware are also encouraged.

All manuscripts submitted to Digital Culture & Education (DCE) are double-blind reviewed where the identity of the reviewers and the authors are not disclosed to either party.

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Digital Culture & Education (DCE) invites submissions on any aspect of digital culture and education.  We welcome submissions of articles and digital works that address the use of digital (and other) technologies and how they are taken up across diverse institutional and non-institutional contexts. For further inquiries and submission of work, send an email to editor@