Digital literacies are vital in supporting our educational, working, personal, social and civic lives. In an age of web 2.0 and mobile apps, we need to teach students far more than print literacy skills; we need to help them develop a whole suite of digital literacies to enable them to operate effectively in contemporary culture. These digital literacies are often viewed as part of, or at least linked to, what many educators are calling 21st century skills.
The need for digital literacies
“Reading is an unnatural act; we are no more evolved to read books than we are to use computers”, Clay Shirky (2010b) reminds us. As he goes on to point out, we spend a great deal of time and effort developing reading (and, of course, writing) skills – in short, what we might call print literacy – in children, and it’s now time to do the same with digital literacies. Language and literacy are tightly bound up with each other: partly because the very notion of literacy is grounded in language, and partly because all literacies are connected with the communication of meaning, whether through language or other, frequently complementary channels. Neither language nor literacy is disappearing. As James Gee and Elisabeth Hayes (2011) observe, language is actually ‘powered up’ or ‘levelled up’ by digital media. Digital literacy, then, is even more powerful and empowering than analogue literacy. We need to level up our teaching and our students’ learning accordingly. For our language teaching to remain relevant, our lessons must encompass a wide variety of literacies which go well beyond traditional print literacy. To teach language solely through print literacy is, in the current era, to shortchange our students on their present and future needs.
Source: Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (2013). Digital literacies. Routledge.
These digital literacies provide important support for students’ learning inside and outside the classroom, and will be essential to most professions of the future, not to mention playing an integral part in our everyday social and personal lives.
A framework of digital literacies
The framework was published originally in Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (2013). Digital literacies. Harlow: Pearson/Routledge. In late 2016, it was published in a Portuguese translation for the Brazilian market as Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (2016). Letramentos digitais. Trans. M. Marcionilo. São Paolo: Parábola. The framework is currently being used to underpin a number of Scandinavian and other European language learning initiatives, including the national Irish Enhancing Digital Literacies for Language Teaching and Learning project funded by the Irish Government.
The framework is now being revised and extended in light of the continued rise of mobile technologies; augmented reality and virtual reality interfaces; coding and robotics; big data, learning analytics and artificial intelligence; and especially in light of the global realisation of an urgent need for a more critical perspective on our technologies and the information and communication channels they offer. An updated version is due to be published in 2018. For more information about this, please feel free to use the contact me form.
- print literacy: the ability to comprehend and create a variety of written texts, encompassing a knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and discourse features alongside reading and writing skills
- texting literacy: the ability to communicate effectively in textspeak
- hypertext literacy: the ability to process hyperlinks appropriately and to use hyperlinks effectively to enhance a document or multimedia artefact
- multimedia literacy: the ability to effectively interpret and create texts in multiple media, notably using images, sounds, and video
- gaming literacy: the ability to effectively navigate, interact with, and achieve goals in, a gaming or other 3-dimensional simulated environment
- mobile literacy: the ability to navigate, interpret information from, contribute information to, and communicate through the mobile web, including an ability to orient oneself in the space of the internet of things (where information from real-world objects is integrated into the net) and augmented reality (where web-based information is overlaid on the real world)
- code literacy: the ability to read, write, critique and modify computer code in order to create or tailor software and media channels
- tagging literacy: the ability to interpret and create effective folksonomies (user-generated indexes of online resources)
- search literacy: the ability to make effective use of a wide array of search engines and services, including a familiarity with their full functionality as well as their limitations
- information (critical) literacy: the ability to evaluate documents and multimedia artefacts by asking critical questions, assessing credibility, comparing sources, and tracking the origins of information
- filtering literacy: an inflection of network literacy, this is the ability to reduce information overload by using online social and professional networks as screening mechanisms
- personal literacy: the ability to use digital tools to shape and project a desired online identity
- network literacy: the ability to deploy online social and professional networks to filter and obtain information (as in filtering literacy); to communicate with and inform others; to build collaboration and support; and to develop a reputation and spread influence
- participatory literacy: the ability to contribute to the collective intelligence of digital networks, and to leverage the collective intelligence of those networks in the service of personal and/or collective goals
- intercultural literacy: the ability to interpret documents and multimedia artefacts from a range of cultural contexts, as well as to effectively communicate messages and interact constructively with interlocutors across different cultural contexts
- remix literacy: the ability to create new meanings by sampling, modifying and/or combining pre-existing texts and multimedia artefacts, as well as circulating, interpreting, responding to and building on others’ remixes within digital networks
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