Wednesday, November 01, 2006

K12 Online: Literacy objectives for our time

Tonight I caught up with Clarence Fisher's presentation. Wow!, what a great relaxed and informative style! I feel informed but still overwhelmed. Clarence proposes a set of skills for 21st century literacy but then concludes by asking if we are following behind our students who are perhaps becoming underground digital apprentices. How can schools lead the way when many of the teachers are not on board with this concept and mode of thinking about information and digital literacy? I remembered again a handful of the teachers at my school who recently declared technology was not enhancing literacy and have gone on a no-tech tools binge...back to pencil and paper to correct the illiteracy (I am not kidding!). I despair at this attitude but can only encourage them to view this presentation.

Wesley Fryer talks about an extended version of the digital native/digital immigramt model developed by Prensky with Digital Refugees and Bridges on his Infinite Thinking Machine posting recently. He claims the digital refugees are "The older adults in society who have chosen to flee rather than integr
ate into the native culture." and "The refugees are primarily motivated by fear and a staunch desire to not only resist change but actively oppose it, deny the existence of a changed environment, and/or ignore it."
I know I am working with some refugees but let me tell you a 'straight from the shop-floor' secret...they are not just the 'older adults...' I know this sounds more shocking and unforgivable. It's possibly the ultimate definition of digital conservatism, to be young and yet a digital refugee.

Anyway, congratulations Clarence and thank you for your enlightening presentation. I enjoyed it and will share with my colleagues and also my students....I value their opinion as well.
Globally Literate
by Clarence Fisher

The Key Questions:
What is literacy? How is it changing? (it has always changed)
What is literacy in our time? Where do we think it is going? What does it look like in a classroom?
  • Component of comprehension
  • Component of production (producing a message)
  • Literacy is interactive (communicating a message that others understand)
Overview of historical view and practice of literacy.
Texts have changed through time: tablets, scrolls, book became popular in Christian times (small and easily carried and hidden).
Printing press in Guttenberg: Mass, societal literacy became possible.
Concept of reading - left to right (Arabic = right to lect, Chinese = column top to bottom)

In an historical context literacy is in a constant and continual state of change. Why is today any different?
What does it mean to be literate in our society today?
Constructive citizens in the 21st century need to understand complex issues.

Being literate today is more challenging as there are many more types of texts than in the past eg multimedia such as sound, video, animation, podcasts, spreadsheets, graphs
Also, many different types of information can be combined in a single page eg print combined with video, music, animation.
Connected texts: blogs, wikis....use of hyperlinks, commenting on others work.
Ideas evolve and change over time with the electronic text we have today. Editing takes place post-publication. Many sources to go to with different points of view.
Possibility of global recognition and attracting a world-wide audience.

Literacy =
  • No single type of text
  • No single type of skill: Toolbox with choices to access, comprehend and respond to content
  • Whole set of skills to create their own content: blog comment, video, set of photos, podcast
The skills of literacy are changing

Access Skills:
  • It's not about 'search' it's about 'find'; using different tools with understanding for different purposes.
  • Include finding and using an RSS feed- finding authentic voices
  • Include ways to find current information and immerse in conversations, find and join challenging people and networks..meaningful..authentic...
Comprehension Skills:
  • Reading online: different to reading a book....skimming to read through vast amounts of material, then changing to focused reading
  • Basic reading skills still vital ...but can be more complex...dealing with multi-modal text
  • Need strategies: begin at the top? deal with written text first, then multimedia, then hyperlinks??
Evaluation Skills:
  • Trusted sources of information not the same with online texts
  • Look at date, links, author, break apart URL's to find root sites, search deeper into the source
  • Reliability of information needs checking....can it be trusted?
  • Teach them to be effective critical, question it...
Production Skills:
  • Print is no longer the dominant medium of communication...what do we act as if it is??
  • Give kids a choice....a medium that suits their message
  • Contemporary and interactive forms of representation
  • Skills needed to choose a representaiton that fits the purpose, content and audience
  • Encourage an environment where experimentation is OK
  • Production skills are not technical skills...not trying to produce programmers and's about the literacy
  • Skills needed to communicate the message
  • Time needed to choose form of representation and to learn skills to use their choice
Interaction Skills:
  • Build networks of people who challenge their thinking and drive it forward
  • Stephen Downes work on groups and networks
  • Teach how to write good blog comments (Vicki Davis, Anne Davies)
Creative, ThoughtFul and Globally Appropriate

The Big Ideas:
  • Literacy has changed and will continue to's a FACT. Schools need to look at the definition of literacy in a changing world
  • A new skill set of production and interaction skills are needed as well, simply reading and understanding a text is not enough
Underground digital apprenticeships...are we following behind as's our job to guide and help and be at the forefront.....

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Remind me to call you if I ever get into podcasting and need professional show notes made up.

Thanks for all of the kind comments and the review.