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UBC Theses and Dissertations

E-Granary, digital literacy, and the identities of Ugandan students Williams, Carrie-Jane


The e-Granary Digital Library, commonly described as “Internet in a box”, is an external hard drive designed for users in poorly resourced communities. “Storing the seeds of knowledge”, the digital library contains vast information resources and can be navigated without Internet connectivity. This qualitative case study, which was conducted from September to December 2008 at the Kyato Community Library in the Ganda District of Uganda, used data collected from questionnaires, observations and interviews to address the following research questions: (i) What are students’ investments in e-Granary and computer technology and how does the development of digital literacy impact student identity? (ii) To what extent do students’ e-Granary digital literacy practices illuminate communalism within African indigenous knowledge? The analysis of my findings is informed by theories of identity (Norton, 2000) as well as discussions of indigeneity in the African context (Kanu, 2006; Dei, 1994, 2002). To address the research questions, the researcher drew on data collected from a group of six secondary school students to identify common themes related to identity, imagined communities, and communalism. The study found that the students were highly invested in ICT and expanded their range of real and imagined identities in relation to their digital literacy practices as they evolved from tutees to information finders and peer tutors. It also found that their digital literacy illuminated practices of communalism in their social setting in terms of knowledge sharing and working together for the betterment of the community. However, the study revealed that challenges in introducing ICT to a rural Ugandan community remain in effect. These include limited and faulty equipment, limited solar power, and inadequate human resources to assist in training and development. The study concludes with a recommendation for more qualitative case studies that will further investigate the home and community digital literacy practices of students, including the usage of cell phones and CDs.

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