What digital literacies are about…

Mostly I don’t get a lot out of viewing presentations on Slideshare, but there were aspects of this one that interested me. For instance Doug Belshaw’s memorable code for definition of digital literacies, even if it does not emphasise the social quite enough and does SHOUT somewhat. I think you don’t really need to watch the videos….

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2 thoughts on “What digital literacies are about…

  1. I enjoyed this and did watch the ‘broken magazine’ video with delight. Nevertheless, I am left with a curmudgeonly worry which I have felt driven to spell out in tedious detail, sorry.

    I am getting the feeling that we may be able to gather up possibly hundreds of iterations of the same messages about what we need to be doing in terms of digital literacy to help our students and why. When we reach saturation (the point when we stop seeing anything new anymore) I suppose we can decide for ourselves that we have got the message and learnt what we need to learn?

    If I am right, then I wonder about the broader implications. Democratising in this area of digital literacy may appear at first to offer the same kind of liberation from oppression by specialists as during the Reformation of the Christian Church in 15th century Europe. At that time it was decided that individuals should be allowed to interprete the Bible for themselves without the mediation of high priests, and this was facilitated by the more widespread ability to read, thanks to the development of the printing press (with apologies to the historians amongst you). Here is the connection: if we can rely on the slide shows of students such as ourselves which show up on the web from a Google search, and various e-learning advisors, then are we being excused from developing the literacy and academic skills to tussle with the seminal works of the academic authorities in this area? How many of us have actually read Vygotsky’s own words at all, or recently, before quoting him for this assessment? Not me. Does it matter?

    Ten out of 12 of my students in class last week confessed that they had not voted at the last election. They said they could not understand anything about politics. My concern is that the acceptance of simplified, bullet point versions of arguments and theory may end up working against our ability to assess the actions of those who are in power. We may become less able to articulate our objections because we may be losing the ability to hold several competing ideas in our heads at the same time. If that is true, then are we not at risk of falling back into reliance on high priests, again the high priests of literacy? As an example, I think of the difficulties encountered in discussing the law changes around the physical discipline of children several years ago. To understand the legal nature of the debate, it was necessary to hold three concepts in one’s mind simultaneously. These were comparatively well known concepts – what is assault, what is a defence to a charge, what is the police discretion to prosecute. Nevertheless, the media simplified the issue so far that it was entirely misrepresented as the ‘anti-smacking law’.

    Shades of meaning and lovely paradoxes can certainly be portrayed in ways which leave words out (broken magazine is a great example). But is our ability to use words on track to becoming binary to match the digital medium?

  2. Pingback: A curmudgeonly moment… « Social learning technologies

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