The role of digital media in sustaining epistemic engagement and belonging in higher education

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Engagement is currently a key concern in higher education nationally and internationally as anxieties over retention and the quality of education within a market economy increase. This seminar will discuss the role of digital media in fostering engagement and a culture of belonging in higher education and in developing participation in disciplinary communities. Some recent ideas on engagement will be critiqued, arguing that current thinking often implies that engagement is solely concerned with normative ‘requirements’ or mechanisms for improving individual attitudes to learning. Yet engagement also involves feelings and meaning making and interaction with others, so that to be engaged involves both commitment and attachment. The concept of epistemic engagement is introduced, where knowledge and learning are understood as practices within the structure of a domain and disciplinary community, providing opportunities for intellectual engagement and interaction (Larreamendy-Joerns & Leinhardt, 2006). The meditational role of digital media in supporting epistemic engagement and learner agency will then be discussed, drawing on two projects investigating the role of digital media in undergraduate education within different disciplinary communities (medicine and information systems). These cases will illustrate how digital media can contribute to the sustainability of engagement and offer new opportunities for peer support and knowledge construction. The paper will end by discussing the aims and challenges of a new project focussed on how digital media might contribute to supporting engagement of undergraduates from non traditional backgrounds in establishing and sustaining informal networks and interactions amongst peers.
Period20 Mar 2013
Event typeSeminar
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map


  • engagement
  • higher education