International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Information Systems as a Social Space: Developing academic and social literacies in students
Terri Grant, Claudia Kalil

This paper describes an enquiry-based teaching programme using Scenario Learning and Pedagogy (SLP), an approach to teaching that is cooperative and multi-layered. The authors review teaching professional communication practices by embedding learning to write and reference a journal-style article in the specific real-world scenario of Business Processes Management (BPM), at a development organisation, the Student Health and Welfare Organisation (SHAWCO), based at the University of Cape Town. The aim of the programme was to develop academic writing and social practices to transform and broaden what can be achieved educationally in the classroom. An interpretative approach, based on student and staff perceptions as well as framing the data through the lens of a multimodal pedagogy such as the New London Group’s Multiliteracies Pedagogical Framework seemed the most appropriate methodologically. A qualitative analysis of classroom pedagogical processes as observed, reported and reflected upon was therefore used. In the past, Information Systems Honours programme students wrote an individual essay at the start of the year but with no input on research, planning and writing. In 2009 students investigated BPM (a real world scenario) related to among others: volunteers on specific education and sports projects, or the BPM in place for marketing education projects. The course started with a lecture on SHAWCO and specific education involvements there, and students were handed two academic papers on BPM before starting their investigation of the scenarios in teams of three. In four two-hour workshops students’ learning was scaffolded. Taking turns in their groups, they presented their work and got feedback on their draft products from lecturers in incremental stages. Simultaneously overt instruction on academic writing (e.g. style and citation) was given and students finally submitted their eight- to twelve-page written document as individuals a few weeks later. Viewing the data through a Multiliteracies Pedagogical Framework lens proves useful from both a theoretical and methodological perspective. For students learning challenges and opportunities in critically evaluating BPM in a development organisation were evident. There was also ‘transformation value’ in embedding learning in an institutional scenario in terms of students learning about IS as a social space. As an open-ended problem-solving framework, Scenario Learning and Pedagogy in addition allowed students to develop academic knowledge and practices based on informed reasoning and analysis. In reflecting on the social world contingent on business processes, students developed metalanguage needed to negotiate between different contexts effectively, an aspect of active and critical/reflective learning and mastery. Pleasing by-products were raised awareness, motivation and collegiality among staff across the university.

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