Saturday, December 19, 2009

What are the critical literacies for educators today?

As I started to think about my project (part of my study this semester with USQ) focused on professional development for educators the questions about literacies and skills educators need to be effective today and tomorrow keep coming back and haunting me ;0).

So I decided to develop a space where educators will be exposed to and have the chance to experiment and practise those critical skills and literacies.

Now I just need to define what those skills and literacies are!

So what do you think? What are the top 3 literacies and skills that you believe are critical for educators to master?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Multiliteracies and the challenges that come with them

This is a reflection on an article by Tan & McWilliam (2009) about multiliteracies that I came across while exploring new literacies.
I also found this image as quite good illustration of the literacies in a digital and networked learning environment.

So here are the three key issues that stood out for me:

Issue number 1:
It is not enough to offer the students opportunities to engage and enrich their learning experience with web 2.0 and other emerging technologies and develop multiple literacies. Unless they can see the direct applicability and are convinced of the relevance to their performance and achievement in important assessments, that determine their academic success and pathways, they will chose to adhere to the legitimacy and priority given to traditional modes of learning and literacy practices.

Issue number 2: Good intentions and efforts in using cutting edge technologies by progressive educators and advocates of multiple literacies are not enough to overcome and transform over centuries, entrenched traditional educational practices and cultures.

Issue number 3: When teachers perceive digital or technological literacies as complicated and difficult to master they are likely to pull back or resist introducing them to students and integrating them into curriculum. Even technologies that are user friendly and common web tools if teachers lack familiarity and struggle to understand how they operate they will be unwilling and unable to incorporate them into their teaching practice.

Conclusion: Until traditional mainly print based academic literacies are rewarded and prevail in institutional cultures students will not effectively and actively engage with mulitliteracies or will continue to ‘step around them’ as it suits them. Changes to institutional culture must be accompanied by investment in teacher training and capability development in acquiring and mastering the multiltieracies they are expected to integrate and effectively incorporate into their teach practice.

Tan, Jennifer Pei-Ling and McWilliam, Erica L. (2009) From literacy to multiliteracies : diverse learners and pedagogical practice. Pedagogies : An International Journal, 4(3). pp. 213-225. access at

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Toward a Theory of New Literacies Emerging From the Internet and Other Information and Communication Technologies

Wordle: New Literacies Emerging from Internet and other ICTsHere is a wordle I created visualizing the main concepts and key issues around New Literacies emerging from the internet and other ICTs raised by Leu,D.,Kinzer, C.K., Coiro, J.L., & Cammack, D.W. (2004). The reading  explores in more depth how changes in the world have influenced the way we define literacy today.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Technological Literacy

Technological Literacy

I picked this as a topic to explore as part of my studies of Multi-modal texts and new literacies because I feel very strongly about the role technology plays and will continue to play in transforming learning and education in general. I was looking for some answers to the fundamental question: How do technologies impact on our lives today and what are the implications for education, for teachers and students and teaching and learning in general?

Another question that was lingering in my mind since reading the Education Queensland (2004) New times, new literacies was: What are the critical illiteracies of the future?

According to Luke (1997) there are tree aspects of critical literacy:
-    meta- knowledge of diverse meaning systems and the socio- cultural contexts in which they exist;
-    mastery of the technical and analytical skills  with which to negotiate those systems in diverse contexts;
-    capacity to understand how those systems and skills operate in relations to interests and power within and across social institutions.

Current curricular and teaching practise in most cases are not geared to develop such critical literacy. Even though today's ICTs and the world wide web (WWW) in particular are generating profound changes in the way we communicate, access, process, construct, and disseminate information and knowledge most educational institutions and teachers continue to practise the well mastered over centuries teacher cantered, content driven approach to teaching.  What becomes clear from this article is that we as educators need to be aware of and understand the complex pedagogical, political, social and economic issues emerging technologies bring with them to be able to craft strategies that will effectively address them.

Most examples provided by Luke in particular in language learning were showcasing how new and emerging technologies were used in the traditional model of teaching rather than fundamentally challenging and transforming teaching and learning practice. Considering that the article was published in 1997 there is no argument that the technology was improving and adding value to the learning experiences but its potential to empower learners was not fully taken advantage of.

Exchanges of information between technology users in the last couple of decades have resulted in the creation of powerful global social networks and relations through the sharing of information, knowledge and experiences (Luke, 1997).  The Internet and web 2.0 tools in particular have enabled the creation of many 'virtual' communities and social networks on linkedin, myspace, facebook, bebo, ning, twine, flicker, slideshare, twitter, yam, wikieducator and virtual worlds such as second life, just to name of few.  There is a significant number of educators being active members of these communities connecting, collaborating, exploring and developing ideas and understanding how technology could be used in an innovative way. In the past few years I have been involved in a number of social networks like facebook, linkedin, ning, twitter, second life and now starting to explore googlewave. As a professional I find that participating in these social networks has provided me with a global personal learning network that I can tap into at any time and benefit from the collective knowledge and experiences.

Technologies emerge in specific historical contexts and trough technological diffusion become part of our daily lives, shaping the way we communicate, connect, and interact socially and professionally. On the other hand technologies and their uses are shaped and influenced by the social practices of the users of growing global networks and virtual communities.

Concepts of privacy, time, place and space, identity and meaning have been challenged and reshaped by developments in ICT such as e-mail, instant messaging, web conferencing, web 2.0 tools, social networking sites and virtual reality.

So what are the implication for teaching and learning?

Technology and the internet in particular has provided learners with the opportunity to connect with other learners and access leading experts in a specific field of interest across the globe. The classroom walls no longer confine the learning experiences. The challenge for teachers and educators is to take advantage of the full potential that technology can offer to empower and transform the learning. 
Even bigger challenge for teachers and educators is to reinvent their teaching practise and be able to see and realize the potential technologies bring with them rather then just explore how technologies could improve and add value to their current practice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What are the critical literacy skills of today and tomorrow?

After reading New times, new literacies (Education Queensland, 2004) I believe there are three top questions/ issues that educators need to address:
1. Define which are the critical literacy skills that are essential for the 21st century learners and explore ways of how they could be integrated effectively within the current curriculum.

2. Craft strategies to effectively address the diversity and disparity of literacy levels in an ever changing and increasingly diverse culturally and socially global community of learners.

3. There is an emerging technological literacy become increasingly important to master. This literacy is about the ability to understand and effectively use emerging and converging technologies in different situations and contexts and solve effectively problems. The burning question is: How we address that critical literacy in the current curriculum if it is not present amongst the educators themselves?

The questions raised in the article were mainly around the literacy practices that students engage in which are very important to be aware of and understand. Of equal importance I believe is also knowing and understanding the literacy practices that educators engage with to be able to offer them with training and development opportunities that will effectively address lower level or lacking literacies that they need to develop or improve on in order to be able to be support their learners in developing such literacies themselves .