Researchers And Educators

Today's educators have no choice but to re-conceptualize what the term literary education means. We now teach in a world of laptops, internet, online resources etc. and 'literacy' means something very different for the 'screen agers' or today's school age children. (Clive, D. (2005), p. ix )

Increasing access to digital literacy has shifted the landscape of ideas about image as texts, contexts for text, what 'language' looks like and what constitutes literature. (Winch, G et al. 2006, p. 391)

A valuable and encompassing study paper into new/digital literacies is 'The Handbook of Research into New Literacies'. This paper (available online at http://newliteracies.uconn.edu) brings together a large number of researchers on this subject from various fields and various parts of the globe to gain as broad an understanding as possible. It draws upon close to 100 studies/references worldwide and aims to ask questions as well as find answers. I will attempt to summarize some of their findings here-

  • The internet has brought about unprecedented change to literacy- no other previous technology has provided so much information, that is so useful, to so many people, ever in our history. "Thirty years ago the average human being communicated with 3000 people in a lifetime. That can now be achieved in one day" (Dorner, J. 2001, p.34).
  • We should always remind ourselves in developed countries of the 'digital divide'. There are huge disparities between nations when we look at access to computer technology and the internet. New literacies are central to full participation in todays world community.
  • Literacy is no longer a static construct, but is a rapid and continuous process of change in the way we read, write, view, listen and communicate. It has shifted from the traditional print technology to a larger mindset that requires that we continuously adapt to new evolving literacies. New literacies rapidly change as the defining technology changes.
  • It is not possible to be fully literate in all the new evolving digital literacies. It is happening on far to fast and broad a scale. New literacies are multiple, multi-modal, and multi-faceted.
  • Schools and educators, even when able to afford the technology, are by and large, neglecting to integrate computers and internet into literacy education. They are often unaware of the importance of the need for this aspect as an essential in todays environment.
  • Instead of imposing theory from other contexts, new literacies/internet needs to be seen in it's unique context for literacy and used to build it's own theoretical foundation.
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