Literacy, technology and the economics of attention

Chris Bigum, Michele Knobel, Colin Lankshear, Leonie Rowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article is based on a project aimed at generating practical suggestions based on research findings about how new technologies might be used to enhance L1 literacy attainment in disadvantaged settings. The project involved designing, implementing and researching an innovative approach to curriculum and pedagogy using new digital technologies in language and literacy education within classroom settings involving small groups of "disadvantaged" learners. The paper reports activity and findings from one of four study sites. It focuses on four Grade 9 boys seen by their teachers as troublemakers and at risk of failing in English. The researchers draw on current conceptual and theoretical work associated with the emergence of an Attention Economy theory to design a collaborative activity around constructing a website, and to identify and analyse positive literacy learning outcomes associated with the pedagogical approach taken. The authors show how this new perspective on attention informs a critique of conventional approaches to school organization and classroom learning, and how it can be used to envisage alternative approaches to understanding and teaching students who display literacy learning difficulties at school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-122
Number of pages28
JournalL1 Educational Studies in Language and Literature
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Attention
  • Boys' literacy
  • Disadvantage
  • Learning
  • New technologies


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