Thursday, September 14, 2006

Digital Age Literacy Ideals

International Literacy Day was celebrated on September 8. For an excellent overview of the history and development of ILD see Andy Carvin's blog this week on Also, a good site for further information is this UN site.
The word 'literacy' conjures many ideas, thoughts, statistics, emotions and ideals. What does 'being literate' mean in 2006? Does it have the same definition as it did 10 years ago? 20 years ago?
Andy states:
Literacy in the 21st century is all about participation: the ability to critically consume and create knowledge for the betterment of ourselves, our families and our communities. Whether it’s teaching an adult to read for the first time, or teaching a teenager that there’s more to video production than imitating episodes of Jackass on, we all need to work together in making sure that everyone has the requisite skills to help make the world a better place. These skills, technical or otherwise, don’t exist in a vacuum. We need to help people improve their basic literacy skills, their technology skills, and their media literacy skills. Not to make them better consumers, but better citizens - citizens of their community, of their country and the world at large".

International Literacy Day focuses on giving hope to the millions who cannot read or write their own name and it also gives us the motivation to reflect on literacy ideals within education and how we can develop and support these. We cannot discuss the concept of literacy now without considering a wider definition and also considering using technology tools to support development of 'consuming and creating knowledge'.

According to enGuage 21st Century Skills list 'Digital Age Literacy' includes:
  • Basic, scientific, economic and technological literacies
  • Visual and information literacies
  • Multicultural literacy and global awareness
These all combine to provide a common understanding and a common base for participation and interaction. As educators we can develop programs and sequences of work that show developmental learning of and use of these literacies and we can use ICT tools to support this development. We need to explore new ways of thinking about digital literacy and engaing students, and building learning communities.

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