Addison, “Mobile Technologies & A Phenomenology of Literacy”

Addison explores the ways that we can use mobile technologies to record, measure, and understand literacy as a lived experience. Referencing Brandt’s study of ordinary American’s literacy practices, Addison writes that the use of indirect evidence to often offers a skewed version of how literacy operates in everyday lives. Instead, Addison—along with Brandt—seek to find more direct means of collecting data on literacy practices. Addison looks to methods that are framed around phenomenological research: “strives to describe and interpret some aspect of human experience from the point of view of those who have lived the experience via direct evidence” (172). Mobile technologies—“those technologies we can easily carry with us throughout a day” such as mobile devices—can be helpful to observe and record more involved literacy experiences of people as they move throughout their day. “It is possible to employ mobile technologies that research participants carry wit them throughout the day for the days or weeks of the study to learn more about their daily experiences” (173).

She specifically references experience sampling methods (ESM) as articulated by Larson and Csiksezntmihalyi. Defined, “ESM as a research method in which participants are signaled at the occurrence of certain events or random intervals during a given time period to stop and record what they are doing and how they feel about what they are doing” (176). She points to two devices that forward this method: databank watches that are preprogrammed to signal participants (at random points during the day) to complete a self-report form of their activities (usually in print). She also offers the idea of PDAs with digital means for participants to self-report their activities. She notes that participants should be given a set timeframe to complete the reporting (e.g. one week) and hold interviews with a selection of participants to reflect on their experiences.


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