This study provides needed insights for technical communication scholars regarding underrepresented users and how they are engaging with technical communication texts and practices as they develop their digital literacies at an urban community technology center (CTC) in the Southeastern United States. By taking an ethnographic and community-based approach to data collection and utilizing grounded theory for analysis, I found that learners engage in all three dimensions of networked learning (e.g., learners connecting to other learners, tutors, and other available resources), tutors serve as local technical communication experts who help learners develop crucial cultural knowledge about using ICTs and how to physically operate them, and learners utilize multimodal resources as they work at computers. These findings highlight barriers impacting inexperienced users and illustrate that ICT tutorial materials often fail users who have little to no experience using ICTs. Technical communication scholars should work to make instructions more meaningful, and future research should investigate the rhetorical features of novice-focused instructions and engage in community-based scholarship to reach more underrepresented users in order to combat digital divides.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2017. Major: Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication. Advisor: John Logie. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 192 pages.
Developing digital literacies: Engaging technical communication at an urban community technology center.
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