Literacy is about more than reading or writing – it is about how we communicate in society. It is about social practices and relationships, about knowledge, language and culture. Those who use literacy take it for granted – but those who cannot use it are excluded from much communication in today’s world. Indeed, it is the excluded who can best appreciate the notion of “literacy as freedom”. (UNESCO, Statement for the United Nations Literacy Decade, 2003–2012, page 3, The Ontario Curriculum, English Grades 9 and 10)
Multiliteracies -Coined by the New London Group (1996) Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new understanding of literacy must also be used and developed.
For Today . . . 3 Parts How might we understand multiliteracies and why is this important to English teaching?
Support from current research. What does research tell us about teaching multiliteracies?
What does this shift in social and cultural practices and the research in multiliteracies mean for teaching English?
Is there any doubt that our students use multiliteracies? Blogs, Facebook, text messages, Flickr for example
Take this story for instance . . . Justin Bieber And of course YouTube
Some ideas for educators to ponder . . . What Does it all Mean?
A book is a technology too. Yes, a book. It’s not just digital though…
Remediation and Anxiety Bolter and Grusin in 1999 wrote about how new media refashions prior media forms with a goal to improve upon the old while proclaiming itself a new medium. E.g. scroll to book; book to e-literature, etc. Anxiety is created though as we fear what is being lost and what we don’t understand about the new.
Other multiliteracies Souce: Dr. Janette Hughes, UOIT, Oshawa
Page from Maus by Art Spiegelman
Research Roots The first discussions focused on “New Literacies” “New Literacy’s proposal is to reshape the work of the classroom around a different form of reading and writing. The moral, psychological, and social worth of this literacy begins with students as sources of experience and meaning.” John Willinsky
James Gee talked about New Literacy Studies He (and other theorists) explained that literacy is not a singular construct, but rather, individuals maintain multiple literacies relative to their environment (both physical and social). Gee introduced the term “big D” Discourse, by which he mean the social, cultural and historical practices that impact systems of literacy.
Multiliteracies New London Group is a collective of literacy researchers from Australia, Great Britain and the USA. They argued that literacy includes A multiplicity of discourses Is influenced by information and multimedia technologies And that different representational forms are increasingly significant. E.g. visual design
They noted that As soon as our sights are set on the objective of creating the learning conditions for full social participation, the issue of differences becomes critically important. How do we ensure that differences of culture, language, and gender are not barriers to educational success? And what are the implications of these differences for literacy pedagogy?
Teaching Multiliteracies Situated effortful, meaningful practice Overt instruction that introduces metalanguage to describe and interpret. Critical framing to interpret the social and cultural context of particular designs of meaning. Transformed practice, which puts meaning to work in other contexts.
What about media and popular culture? Author Steven Johnson calls into question some of the commonsense theories of new media. “The student of media soon comes to expect the new media of any period whatever to be classed as pseudo by those who acquired the patterns of earlier media, whatever they may happen to be.” -Marshall McLuhan
Some of Johnson’s Findings By almost all the standards we use to measure reading’s cognitive benefits—attention, memory, following threads, and so on—the nonliterary popular culture has been steadily growing more challenging over the past thirty years. Increasingly, the nonliterary popular culture is honing different mental skills that are just as important as ones exercised by reading books.
It’s not what you’re thinking about when you’re playing a game, it’s the way you’re thinking that matters. John Dewey: “Perhaps the greatest of all pedagogical fallacies is the notion that a person learns only that particular thing he is studying at the time. Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of likes and dislikes, may be and often is much more important than the spelling lesson or the lesson in geography or history that is learned.”
James Paul Gee, 2003 What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy 36 Learning Principles e.g. Identity Principle—Learning involves taking on and playing with identities in such a way that the learner has real choices (in developing the virtual identity) and ample opportunity to meditate on the relationship between new identities and old ones. There is a tripartite play of identities as learners relate, and reflect on, their multiple real-world identities, a virtual identity, and a projective identity.
Margaret Mackey, U of A, Edmonton Using an “asset model” that suggests a more constructive approach to exploring the impact of new technologies on students’ literacy practices, we are working on the assumption that engaging in reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing and representing with new media “can work as a benefit to literacy instead of as a social deficit.”
What does this mean for teaching English?
Mindsets: Lankshear and Knobel Mindset One The world operates on physical and industrial principles and logics. Value is a function of scarcity. The individual person is the unit of production, competence and intelligence Mindset Two The world increasingly operates on nonmaterial and post-industrial principles and logics. Value is a function of dispersion. The focus is on collectives.
Mindsets: Lankshear and Knobel Mindset One Expertise and authority are “located” in institutions and persons. Space is enclosed and purpose specific. Social relations of “bookspace” prevails; a stable “textual order”. Mindset Two Expertise and authority are distributed and collective. Space is open, continuous, fluid. Social relations of emerging “digital media space” are increasingly visible; texts chance