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Unit information: Digital Cultures and Participatory Learning in 2020/21

Unit name Digital Cultures and Participatory Learning
Unit code EDUC30024
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Grant
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will examine some of the key challenges and opportunities for teaching and learning that arise as a result of technological and social change. Students will reflect on a range of conceptual and empirical work that considers how digital cultures influence our learning experiences across the life course, and how digital technologies foster different communities of knowers and forms of knowledge. Opportunities will be provided to explore the digital spaces in which learning now happens, the new ethical issues that arise for

learners and educators as they engage with digital cultures, and the possibilities for creativity and participation that arise as well as the ‘participation gaps’ that may prevent some groups from benefiting.

The aims for this unit are to enable students to:

  • Understand emerging digital cultures and how they relate to learning in different contexts
  • Engage with key theories and concepts to explain digital cultures and participatory learning
  • Critically examine examples of contemporary digital cultures and empirical studies that apply these concepts in practice
  • Analyse their own experience of and participation in digital cultures through in-depth reflective work, in conversation with the relevant theories introduced on the course unit.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this course unit students will be able to:

  1. Understand the concepts associated with digital cultures and how they relate to learning and participation in different contexts
  2. Apply relevant theories and concepts related to learning and digital cultures in their own lives and to a range of empirical examples
  3. Utilise conceptual tools to understand and analyse digital and cultural practices related to learning and participation
  4. Write coherent and critically reflective accounts of their own experiences related to digital technologies and cultures, learning and participation.

Teaching details

Teaching will adopt a blended approach involving a mix of online asynchronous and synchronous lectures, reading, collaborative and independent activities provided online. Reflective practice is key to the teaching and learning experience on this unit – students will develop and maintain a portfolio to record, examine and reflect on their own experiences of digital cultures and learning and the ideas introduced throughout the unit.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: As part of this unit, students will be asked to develop and maintain a portfolio through which they record, examine and reflect on their own experiences of digital cultures and learning and the literature and theory introduced throughout the unit. This can be in a range of digital formats (e.g. blogs, multimedia, podcasts, videos, social media posts, etc.) This will be part of the preparation for and discussion in weekly sessions and be used as a basis for the two summative assessments detailed below.

Formative assessment will take place through a) peer and tutor review of student portfolios and b) peer and tutor review of posters summarising an approach for Assessment Part 2.

Summative assessment: Part 1: (ILO 1, 2 & 4) A critical reflection on your own experience(s) of digital cultures and learning, drawing on and extending one of the entries in your portfolio. 1,000 words maximum (40%).

Part 2: (ILO 1-3) An academic essay applying theoretical concepts to digital cultures, participation and learning. This can - but does not have to be - developed from one (or more) of your digital portfolio entries. Thus, students will choose from a list of topics or can also suggest their own (to be approved by unit tutors). 2500 words maximum (60%).

Reading and References

Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., Cody, R., Herr, B., Horst, H.A., Lange, P.A., Mahendran, D., Martinez, K., Pascoe, C.J., Perkel, D., Robinson, L., Sims, C., and Tripp, L. (with Judd Antin, Megan Finn, Arthur Law, Annie Manion, Sarai Mitnick and Dan Schlossbery and Sarita Yardi) (2010) Hanging out, Messing around, Geeking out: Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Livingstone, S. (2007) From Family television to Bedroom Culture: Young People’s Media at Home. In Devereux, E. (Ed.), Media Studies: Key Issues and Debates. London: Sage.

Loveless, A. and Williamson, B. (2013) Learning Identities in a Digital Age: Rethinking creativity, education and technology. London: Routledge.

Marsh, J. (2011) Young Children's Literacy Practices in a Virtual World: Establishing an Online Interaction Order. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(2), 101–118.

Prendergast, D. and Garattini, C. (eds) (2015) Aging and the Digital Life Course. Life Course, Culture and Aging: Global Transformations. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.

Sefton-Green, J. (2013) Mapping Digital Makers: A Review Exploring Everyday Creativity, Learning Lives and the Digital. London: Nominet Trust. Retrieved from:

Selwyn, N. (2004). The Information Aged: A Qualitative Study of Older Adults’ Use of Information and Communications Technology. Journal of Aging Studies, 18(4), 369–384.