Exploring perceptions of digital literacy in a LINC curriculum

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Remedios, Jordan
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This thesis examines the perceptions of instructors and students in the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia's (ISANS) Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program regarding the incorporation of digital literacy practices in their curriculum, specifically focusing on Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) classes six, seven and eight. The study investigates digital literacy in the context of adult newcomers, using Nixon and Kerin's (2012) model which encompasses the operational, cultural, and critical dimensions of digital literacy. Using a qualitative approach, data was collected through student focus groups, follow-up interviews with students, and interviews with instructors. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify patterns and trends in the perceptions of instructors and students. The findings from this study reveal that while there are diverse perspectives on the perceived need for digital literacy training and skills development within the ISANS EAL curriculum, there are also clear areas for improvement within the operational, cultural, and critical dimensions of digital literacy. This differs from much of the recent literature on the subject which focuses on the need for digital literacy education, without necessarily considering the specific perceptions of both students and instructors. In general, instructors participating in this study expressed a belief that a greater emphasis and inclusion of discussions on digital literacy would improve the curriculum. Both instructors and students acknowledged the importance of developing skills such as email communication, finding and evaluating online information, and understanding online scams and fraud. Despite this, some students conveyed a lack of interest incorporating more digital literacy in into their classes, specifically in areas such as online safety and personal data management. Conversely, others voiced a strong need for increased digital literacy learning, especially in developing professional online networks, discussing scams and fraud, and managing personal data. Recommendations for improving the curriculum include a coordinated approach, gamification, creation of a Digital Literacy Committee, implementation of a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach, and the introduction of translanguaging spaces. Finally, there are also suggestions and implications for future research in this area.