EDER- 679.07 Changes in Literacy: What happens to people who are not digitally literate?

“Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups” (NCTE Definition, 2013, p.1).  This statement made by the National Council of Teachers of English made me think about the vast technological changes occurring in the 21st Century and how society now views literacy.  The speed of innovation has had dramatic effects on teaching and learning practices where students must work collaboratively to develop proficiency and fluency with technological tools, and they must manage, analyze and evaluate multiple modes of information simultaneously (MediaSmarts, 2013).  This ability to access information using multiple media is “transliteracy”, which is “…the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from…handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” (Thomas et al., 2007, p. 2).

Educators expect students to be able to manage information using various media sources.  However, being digitally literate isn’t an innate skill.  How do individuals learn it? Mifsud asks relevant questions including: “is digital literacy something one expects to learn at school, something one brings from other contexts or a crossover of both?” “What does a student have to appropriate and master in order to be called digitally literate by the current society?”  “What counts as digital literacy?” (Mifsud, 2005)  The question I am most concerned with is-what happens to youth and adults who have not learned to be digitally literate?

Developing digital literacy affects an individual’s entire existence since it involves accessing the relevance of information.  Therefore, teachers must devote time for students to practice digital literacy.  I will ensure that my lessons include such opportunities, and I will encourage students to practice these skills in and out of the classroom.  Today, students “require a repertoire of both print and digital literacy practices for their future workplace and life” (Rowsell and Walsh, 2011, p. 54).  This is a serious statement that cannot be ignored!

“Digital literacy is a complex phenomenon” (Mifsud, 2005, p.143).  It involves interpreting the “…users perception of the affordances of a digital artefact”, as well as considering “…the culture that the technology is being used in, and whether the technology contributes to an evolvement of new practices which become embedded in the culture” (Mifsud, 2005, p.143).  It also looks at the teacher’s perception of the technology.  Defining digital literacy is the first step in deciding how to implement it in curriculum so students develop the skills needed for success.  The next step is to allow students opportunities to practice using technologies in the classroom in an appropriate way that furthers societal progress.  Only with practice can students master the tools for thinking and acting, which are the foundations for digital literacy and digital citizenship.

Resources:

MediaSmarts (2013).  Canada’s Centre for Digital & Media Literacy.  Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/?gclid=CLSKiJf_4rcCFUbhQgod9wUAUA

Mifsud, L., (2005).  What counts as digital literacy:  Experiences from a seventh grade classroom in Norway.  Retrieved from http://www.socialscience.t-mobile.hu/dok/9_Mifsud.pdf

National Council of Teachers of English Executive Committee (2013).  NCTE definition of 21st century literacies.  Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/21stcentdefinition

Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Millis, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K.  (2007).  Transliteracy:  Crossing Divides.  First Monday, Vol. 12 (12).  Retrieved from http://www.ulc.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ois/Index.php/fm/article/view/2060/1908

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