Digital literacy: Human flourishing and education in a new knowledge space

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How is digital literacy important to human flourishing? With so many students today using online tools such as MySpace, blogs, iTunes and instant messaging, what are the implications for school leaders in exploiting these communication and collaboration instruments for their educative value? Using Pierre Lévy's work on collective intelligence to set the scene, this paper explores the types of digital literacies both staff and students will need to develop if we are to make the most of new technologies as humanity emerges into a new 'knowledge space'. At a time when many of us fear that the digital age is taking the whole human person out of the teaching and learning nexus, I argue that we have a responsibility to embrace these tools and to use them as confederates in helping us follow what Paulo Freire famously called our 'ontological vocation' to become more fully human.

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Digital literacy: Human flourishing and education in a new knowledge space

  1. 1. Digital literacy. Human flourishing and education in a new knowledge space Megan Poore
  2. 2. Overview ๏ Pierre Lévy: Collective intelligence and human flourishing ๏ Richard Hoggart: Literacy ๏ Digital literacy: navigating knowledge spaces ๏ ICT levels and proficiencies in Australia ๏ The intellectual life of the teacher: a strategy
  3. 3. Four anthropological spaces Lévy, Pierre. 1997 [1994]. Collective Intelligence. Mankind’s Emergence into Cyberspace. Perseus Books: Cambridge, Massachussets.
  4. 4. 1. Earth space language, technology, social organisation, myth, rite, cosmology
  5. 5. 2. Territory space boundaries, agriculture, affiliations, the city, the state
  6. 6. 3. Commodity space flows of energy, materials, labour; production, exchange
  7. 7. 4. Knowledge space intelligent communities, collective imagination; still emerging
  8. 8. The knowledge space ๏ Cannot be separated between individuals ๏ Is a knowledge of the other ๏ A ‘knowledge-of-living’ ๏ Others are a source of knowledge, not a resposity or object of it ๏ Computerisation of society has the potential to promote collective intelligence
  9. 9. Utopian much?
  10. 10. Utopian much? ๏ We must remember that Lévy is talking about the potential of cyberspace to connect people into collectivities where everyone’s knowledge is recognised as a source of ethical wealth.
  11. 11. Utopian much? ๏ Lévy is running a Utopian thesis about people recognising their ontological vocation to become more fully human through the cybersocial affordances that inhabit the knowledge space.
  12. 12. Utopian much? ๏ The “cognitive prostheses” that we are presented with in cyberspace give us the opportunity to transform our intellectual capabilities ๏ We are “moving from one humanity to another” into a new humanism
  13. 13. Cogito > Cogitamus
  14. 14. Utopian much? ๏ Our ability to navigate knowledge and to think collectively will come about as the Cartesian cogito (‘I think’) emerges into a Utopian space of cogitamus (‘we think’)
  15. 15. “The basis and goal of collective intelligence is the mutual recognition and enrichment of individuals rather than the cult of fetishisized or hyspostasized communities” Lévy, Pierre. 1997 [1994]. Collective Intelligence. Mankind’s Emergence into Cyberspace. Perseus Books: Cambridge, Massachussets. p. 13.
  16. 16. “Far from merging individual intelligence into some indistinguishable magma, collective intelligence is a process of growth, differentiation, and the mutual revival of singularities” Lévy, Pierre. 1997 [1994]. Collective Intelligence. Mankind’s Emergence into Cyberspace. Perseus Books: Cambridge, Massachussets. p. 13.
  17. 17. Human flourishing
  18. 18. Human flourishing ๏ At this point, we need to remember the focus of this presentation, i.e., ‘human flourishing’ because it seems to me that that is exactly what Lévy is talking about. ๏ What does it mean and how is it important for us as educators?
  19. 19. Human flourishing ๏ Speaking for myself ...
  20. 20. “Know thyself, O youth, so that you can attain wisdom, since you were born for wisdom” Vico, Orations.
  21. 21. Human flourishing
  22. 22. Human flourishing ๏ Everything we do as teachers needs to be about helping young people come to know themselves ๏ It’s about helping them become aware of how they are socially constructed, how they construct themselves, and how they construct others ๏ It’s a realisation of the social forces that act upon us and how we ourselves contribute to them and can shape them
  23. 23. Human flourishing ๏ It’s about recognising that the self is part of something bigger ๏ It’s about the struggle to connect ๏ It’s about recognising and responding to the human condition ๏ It’s about people’s ability to succeed with others ๏ It’s about contributing to a greater kowledge of oneself and a shared knowledge of others
  24. 24. Human flourishing ๏ As teachers, then, we should be aiming at helping young people recognise their autonomy, but also their interdependence. ๏ Surely this is just as important as NAPLAN test results ... (!)
  25. 25. Human flourishing In fact, two of our speakers reminded us yesterday of our duty
  26. 26. “School is where we discover ourselves” - Grace “We need opportunities to explore” - Nagai
  27. 27. Human flourishing ๏ As teachers, we are the catalysts for discovery and the guides for exploration
  28. 28. Human flourishing From this, we can now ask ๏ ‘How can we make ourselves? ๏ ‘Where can we intervene to become better?’ ๏ ‘How can we affect the human condition?’ ๏ ‘What don’t we like about the ways we are human?’
  29. 29. So far, so philosophical.
  30. 30. So far, so philosophical. ๏ What about the practicalities? ๏ How can we operationalise this? ๏ Before we get get to that, we need to make a sociological diversion into how we are going to approach literacy. ๏ Because literacy is one of the keys to human flourishing in the new knowledge space
  31. 31. Literacy
  32. 32. Links to digital literacy ๏ Lévy’s very first claim -- in his very first sentence -- in Collective Intelligence is that prosperity depends on our “ability to navigate the knowledge space.” ๏ On this view, literacy is the key to wealth, i.e., a wealth of the mind. Lévy, Pierre. 1997 [1994]. Collective Intelligence. Mankind’s Emergence into Cyberspace. Perseus Books: Cambridge, Massachussets. p. 1.
  33. 33. Links to digital literacy ๏ It means giving people tools to become digitally literate so they can navigate the knowledge space.
  34. 34. Why type of literacy? ๏ Here I am talking about the type of literacy that Richard Hoggart campaigned for when he said that people must be able to become wise in their own way, and to help themselves.
  35. 35. “It is easier for a few to improve the material conditions of many than for a few to waken a great many from the hypnosis of immature emotional satisfactions. People in this situation have somehow to be taught to help themselves.” Hoggart, Richard. 2008 [1957]. The Uses of Literacy. New Brunswick (USA): Transaction Publishers. p. 250.
  36. 36. “[t]here are other ways of being in the truth. The strongest objection to the more trivial popular entertainments is not that they prevent their readers from becoming highbrow, but that they make it harder for people without an intellectual bent to become wise in their own way.” Hoggart, Richard. 2008 [1957]. The Uses of Literacy. New Brunswick (USA): Transaction Publishers. p. 250.
  37. 37. Literacy ๏ This helps us think about how we should develop amongst young people a digital literacy that will help them navigate the unfolding knowledge spaces of collective intelligence.
  38. 38. Literacy ๏ In other words, we need not a literacy that tells us how to critique (really, ‘criticise’) digital media. ๏ As Hoggart would say, that’s a defensive, false literacy that privileges the tastes of the intellectual/cultural elites and actually prevents people from becoming ‘wise in their own way’.
  39. 39. “To wish that a majority of the population will ever read The Times is to wish that human beings were constitutionally different, and that is to fall into an intellectual snobbery. The ability to read the decent weeklies is not a sine qua non of the good life” Hoggart, Richard. 2008 [1957]. The Uses of Literacy. New Brunswick (USA): Transaction Publishers. p. 262.
  40. 40. Links to digital literacy ๏ Instead, we should aim higher than that. ๏ We need a literacy that teaches us how to participate in, and to produce (as well as consume), digital culture because it is this type of literacy that will be essential to helping us navigate the knowledge space.
  41. 41. Into the practical ๏ Now it’s time to move from the philosophical and sociological to the practical. ๏ We need to know two things: 1. What constitutes digital literacy? and, 2. How digitally literate are our students already?
  42. 42. Definition time ๏ “Digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and create information using digital technology.” ๏ The Northwest Learning Grid adds, importantly, 1) the ability to define the task, and, 2) the ability to communicate Wikipedia. Defintion of ‘Digital Literacy’. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_literacy Accessed 11 September 2009. NWLG. Teachers Notes on Digital Literacy. Northwest Learning Grid. Available at http://www.nwlg.org/ digitalliteracy/teachernotes.html Accessed 11 September 2009.
  43. 43. Digital literacy
  44. 44. MCEETYA: ICT proficiency ๏ What about Australia? 1. Working with information 2. Creating and sharing information 3. Using ICT responsibly MCEETYA. 2007. National Assessment Program -- ICT Literacy Years 6 & 10. Report 2005. Available at http://www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/nap_ictl_2005_years_6_and_10_report-press_release,22065.html Accessed 21 October 2008.
  45. 45. MCEETYA: ICT literacy 1. Accessing info (identification, retrieval) 2. Managing info (organising, storing) 3. Evaluating info (integrity, relevance, usefulness) 4. New understandings (creating knowledge, authoring) 5. Communicating with others (sharing, creating products) 6. Using ICT appropriately (critical, reflective, strategic, ethics, legals) MCEETYA. 2007. National Assessment Program -- ICT Literacy Years 6 & 10. Report 2005. Available at http://www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/nap_ictl_2005_years_6_and_10_report-press_release,22065.html Accessed 21 October 2008.
  46. 46. ICT proficiency levels “Challenging but reasonable expectation: ๏ Year 6: 49% ๏ Year 10: 61% MCEETYA. 2007. National Assessment Program -- ICT Literacy Years 6 & 10. Report 2005. Available at http://www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/nap_ictl_2005_years_6_and_10_report-press_release,22065.html Accessed 21 October 2008.
  47. 47. A bit low? ๏ Not really, when we ask about older students ...
  48. 48. Experiences of older students
  49. 49. Student experiences ๏ Reasons for use: convenience and control, not learning ๏ Uncertain about how to map current learning experience onto university study ๏ Cannot see how ICT and learning can work together ๏ ICT is seen either as a platform for admin or delivery University of Melbourne. 2006. First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really Digital Natives? http://www.bmu.unimelb.edu.au/research/munatives/natives_report2006.pdf. Accessed 12 February 2008. JISC. 2007. Student expectations study: Findings from preliminary research. (Joint Information Systems Committee) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/publications/studentexpectationsbp.aspx. Accessed 12 February 2008.
  50. 50. Student beliefs in proficiency ๏ ECAR study shows tht students think they are more ICT proficient than they are Salaway, Gail, and Judith B. Caruso, with Mark R. Nelson. 2009. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008 (Research Study, Vol. 8). Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Available at http://www.educause.edu/ECAR/TheECARStudyofUndergraduateStu/ 163283 Accessed 9 July 2009.
  51. 51. A graph!
  52. 52. Information behaviour
  53. 53. Information behaviour ๏ Increase in full-phrase searching ๏ Satisfied with basic forms of search ๏ Spend little time evaluating for accuracy, relevance, authority (but this is also pre-web) CIBER. 2008. Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future. Available at http://www.bl.uk/news/ pdf/googlegen.pdf Accessed 21 October 2008.
  54. 54. Information behaviour ๏ Have difficulty prioritising and evaluating search results ๏ No evidence that information is worse than before ๏ Youngsters do not come online fully-formed as expert searchers: they have always had trouble evaluating information ๏ Intellectual practices are now more visible and public Green, Hannah, and Celia Hannon. 2007. Their Space. Education for a digital generation. Available at http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/theirspace Accessed 21 October 2008.
  55. 55. Information behaviour ๏ Young people are concerned about the ‘unmanageable scale’ of the web ๏ They are seeking guidance not on how to use the technology itself, but on how to think with information Green, Hannah, and Celia Hannon. 2007. Their Space. Education for a digital generation. Available at http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/theirspace Accessed 21 October 2008. and JISC. 2008. Great expectations of ICT: How Higher Education institutions are measuring up. Joint Information Systems Committee Available at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/publications/ greatexpectations. Accessed on 7 Feb 2009. p. 12.
  56. 56. Return to Utopia ... but with a strategy
  57. 57. Return to Utopia: a strategy ๏ At this point, we have to be careful not to forget our Utopian vision. ๏ We need to move back out, away from a focus on processes and measures, back to how we can raise students’ critical consciousness (Freire) for ethical engagement in the knowledge space ๏ To help them be with the world, not just in it.
  58. 58. Return to Utopia: a strategy ๏ Two-point strategy. 1. Teacher Professional Learning: a) technical digital literacy b) intellectual digital literacy 2. Use these technologies with students, in class
  59. 59. Teachers’ digital literacy
  60. 60. Technical digital literacy ๏ Skilling up in the technology ๏ Workshops, training, ‘pushing buttons’ BUT the harder work is ๏ Changing mindsets ๏ Adjusting attitudes ๏ Overcoming fear ๏ Building self-esteem ๏ Embracing new ways of thinking ๏ Not bein afraid to be wrong
  61. 61. Intellectual digital literacy ๏ Interrogation of how the digital world works ๏ Critical engagement with ‣ Humanist philosophy ‣ Educational theory ‣ Cultural studies ‣ Popular non-fiction on digital culture
  62. 62. Intellectual life of the teacher ๏ Start a reading group ๏ Get them to develop proper learning plans ๏ Peer mentoring ๏ Student mentoring of teachers (!) ๏ Concordia: open learning spaces ๏ William Clarke: Mini staff labs ๏ Give them time to absorb, reflect, argue, critique
  63. 63. Intellectual life of the teacher ๏ So, provide staff with not just PD in building technical skills in the use of online and digital technologies. ๏ Give them opportunities to explore philosophical and ethical frameworks for understanding online cultures and how the cyberworld is changing our intellectual capabilties. ๏ These frameworks should then help them build a classroom praxis.
  64. 64. Classroom praxis
  65. 65. Classroom praxis ๏ The next step in our strategy is how to occupy students so they build technical and intellectual digital literacy for encounters in the knowledge space.
  66. 66. Classroom praxis ๏ Whatever form this takes, it must involve teaching students how to distinguish active, deep and ethical intellectual pursuit from frivilous, simple, cosmetic obsessions. ๏ Students need to be taught how to produce as well as consume digital culture and how to use digital tools for communication and collaboration in the collective knowledge space.
  67. 67. Classroom praxis ๏ There is no formula. ๏ It’s about encouraging teachers’ imagination, artistry, inventiveness to create meaningful and ethically proper learning experiences for students.
  68. 68. Classroom praxis ๏ Schools should be showing young people how to make the most of electronic and digital media -- not how to make the least of them. Hartley, John. 2009. The Uses of Digital Literacy. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. p. 20.
  69. 69. Some resources ... ๏ http://educationinnovators.ning.com ๏ http://web2survivalguide.wordpress.com ๏ http://www.slideshare.net/meganpoore ๏ http://meganpoore.tumblr.com ๏ http://www.meganpoore.com
  70. 70. Conclusion
  71. 71. Conclusion ๏ “Humanity has become its own climate” ๏ As we move into cyberspace, we need to contemplate how we want to live and how we want to be human. ๏ And we need to devise strategies that help us achieve our goal of human flourishing. ๏ We need to create the conditions for people to become wise in their own way Lévy, Pierre. 1997 [1994]. Collective Intelligence. Mankind’s Emergence into Cyberspace. Perseus Books: Cambridge, Massachussets. p. xxvi.
  72. 72. Conclusion ๏ If we don’t think more philosophically or broadly, then we run the risk of just getting stuck into the mechanical aspects of literacy and not thinking about what it means to be literate in life. ๏ We must create the conditions for people to become wise in their own way.
  73. 73. What to read? ๏ Pierre Lévy, Collective Intelligence ๏ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed ๏ John Dewey, Democracy and Education ๏ Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy ๏ John Hartley, The Uses of Digital Literacy ๏ Iiyoushi and Kumar (eds) Opening Up Education ๏ Susan Greenfield, i.d. ๏ Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good For You ๏ David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous ๏ Education.au, Educause, JISC, Becta ... reports!
  74. 74. Picture refs ๏ Earth and Moon http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/upload/ 2009/04/earth_day_from_space/apollo08_earthrise.jpg ๏ Ancient Egyptian agriculture http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ commons/9/91/Maler_der_Grabkammer_des_Sennudem_001.jpg ๏ Commodities http://www.hipkiss.org/data/maps/london- geographical-institute_the-peoples-atlas_1920_the-world- commodities_3992_3012_600.jpg ๏ Imagination http://fc06.deviantart.com/fs23/f/2007/338/7/3/ imagination____by_punktlos.jpg ๏ Utopia http://img.wallpaperstock.net:81/utopia-land- wallpapers_6792_1024x768.jpg ๏ Thinking man http://www.asu.edu/clas/shs/aald/Pix/Thinking %20Man.jpg ๏ All other pictures are copyright and royalty-free.

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