Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Media and New Literacies

The November/December 2006 issue of EDUCAUSE Review has an article by Carol Holder where she discusses the issues surrounding new media and new literacies. I found this article interesting for a couple of reasons. First you should know, I agree with Carol (and people like Donald Leu) but that's not the point of this post. The thought that jumps out at me whenever I read something like this is that perhaps none of this new technology has anything at all to do with literacy.

Those of us in technology and education maybe guilty of putting too much importance on what we do. We say things repeatedly like, "literacy demands extend beyond the traditional modes of reading, writing, and speaking.." Do they? I mean really do they? I am married to an elementary school teacher of 20 plus years. She is a well respected scholar and teacher. She spends her day teaching kids to read, write and speak. She thinks I'm off my rocker when I include all this new media in my definition of literacy. Given that she is an expert in literacy, and has done nothing but teach it her whole professional life, I tend to think I should pause and give her point of view a careful consider.

Does any of this new media really change what literacy is? If students learn to read well, write well and speak well won't they have command of any new media? What other skills make them ready to deal with the rapid changes coming after the 32nd square?

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