Students’ access to digital literacy at a South African university: Privilege and marginalisation

  • Leila Kajee
  • Robert Balfour


Lifelong learning has become associated with participation in the digital age, affecting everything from access to information technology, to its use in teaching  and learning. It is therefore inevitable that educationists turn to digital literacy practices to examine their contribution to, and influence on, learning. This article  explores the digital literacy practices of a group of higher education students  with minimal previous access to digital resources, as well as how they compensate for uneven access, with a view to examining what they perceive to be challenges and possibilities offered by technology. Thus the article highlights how they are ‘caught-between’ two worlds: the technologicised and non-technologicised. The work is framed by New Literacy Studies, which suggests that literacy is a contextualised practice positioned in relation to social institutions and the power relations that  sustain them (Gee, 1996). Emerging themes indicate that students perceive digital practices to have symbolic value, and provide access to cultural capital.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2011, 29(2): 187–196

Author Biographies

Leila Kajee
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006
Robert Balfour
School of Commerce and Humanities, St Augustine College of South Africa, PO Box 44782, Linden, 2104

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614