IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE academic delivers keynote lecture on literacy in the digital age

12 July 2018

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) academic Dr John Potter has delivered the closing keynote talk at the UK Literary Association (UKLA) International Conference.

Woman reading from an iPad

Dr Potter delivered the Harold Rosen memorial lecture on the topic of dynamic literacies, exploring the changing nature of 'meaning-making' in the digital age.

As part of the lecture, the talk reflected on interventions from the former IOE professor Harold Rosen.

Dr Potter talked about how Professor Rosen imagined a way of working with all pupils, teaching the canonical texts, codes and conventions of English, alongside providing "room" in the curriculum for the resources and interests which pupils brought with them from their lived experience beyond the classroom. This was part of Professor Rosen's 1958 Walworth School syllabus which ended with an appendix that imagined "other possibilities" for working which included a tantalising, prescient glimpse of media practice: making a 'Documentary film of Walworth School'.

Building on this in his lecture, Dr Potter argues the digital age brings those "other possibilities" closer, through its multiply placed practices, devices and changing social arrangements. The "room" which Harold Rosen made central to his syllabus, Dr Potter argues, can potentially be re-imagined as a "third space" of learning which offers rich opportunities for the development of a literacy curriculum which is responsive to the changing social and pedagogical arrangements around learning.

Despite this, there's still lots to do to enable a wider definition of literacy in a system which contains little formal media education, Dr Potter stated.

The lecture concluded by looking at ways which can create space for the "other possibilities", by reflecting on research into digital texts and practices as well as by looking at other educational systems more closely aligned to the digital age.

The UKLA conference took place between 6-8 July in Cardiff, Wales.

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations
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