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.

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