Emerging pedagogies in Higher Education
Cutting through ‘either-or’ binaries with a heteroglossic plurilingual lens
Keywords:e-learning, higher education, monolingualism, multilingualism, translanguaging
Technology use can introduce fundamental pedagogical changes that are integral to achieving significant academic improvements in higher education. When used to support learning, technology permeates higher education with digital learning mechanisms; enlarges course offerings and instructional alternatives; facilitates learning 24 hours a day; develops 21st century skills; enables greater student motivation; and facilitates deeper comprehension of concepts. The use of technology also has the potential to modify learning by instituting a new model of intertwined instruction. Present-day multilingual technology has transcended the debate about language dominating the educational space. Instead, it is now a question of how progressive multilinguals act diﬀerently as they take part in current opportunities oﬀered by the various languages on the web. The appreciation and embracing of heteroglossic perspectives in e-learning repudiate inscribed ideologies that posit monolingualism as the default norm in education. Through a sociolinguistic lens focusing on the Funds of Knowledge theory, this article seeks to explore the role language plays in e-learning and how educators can use multilingualism as a teaching/learning resource in higher education. The study presents results from a mixed methods approach in which 42 purposively sampled distance teacher education undergraduate students were taught through English and Shona. Data was collected through focus group interviews and a written assessment activity. Quantitative data suggests an improved performance while qualitative data presents an acknowledgement by students of the efficacy of multilingual pedagogy. The article recommends the use of multilingual approaches in today’s linguistically diverse e-learning higher education classrooms. It further justifies acknowledging that multilingualism is not new, even if the dramatic secularisation of the term seems recent.
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