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

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