Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pygmalion: What 21st Century Literacies Does John Need to Learn?

Clarence Fisher at Remote Access posted some interesting data for his students blogging and commenting habits. One question I have: Is their a correlation between attainment of 21st Century Literacies and your data?

In other words: Do students who evidence attainment of 21 Century Literacies blog and comment more, and students who blog and comment less do not evidence attainment of 21st Century Literacies. I suspect that if the potential of tapping the richness of collective intelligence to help us invent a more creative, collaborative, contributory future is dependent on students developing 21st Century Literacies, then I'd conclude that understanding and monitoring student attainment of these literacies is something we have to research.

As I work to introduce my 15 year old grandson John to Web 2.0, I am thinking about these issues. What the syllabus for our web 2.0 instruction? for students? for teachers? for administrators? for parents? for school board members? for the public at large?

Can we as a society take the risk of not teaching 21st Century Literacies? What are the personal, social, planetary benefits of everyone attaining 21st Century Literacies? We speak too much of consequences. What are the benefits to our students if they acquire 21st Century Literacies?

When I thing of 21st Century Literacies, several sources come to mind. I think the juries still out on this issue.

Adopted by the NCTE Executive Committee
February 15, 2008

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

1. Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
2. Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
3. Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
4. Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
5. Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
6. Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

Or iste NETS

“What students should know and be able to do to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital world …”

1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Communication and Collaboration
3. Research and Information Fluency
4. Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving & Decision-Making
5. Digital Citizenship
6. Technology Operations and Concepts

Or Will Richardson's

The new world of learning is requires us to teach students to be independent learners, ones that are not dependent on teachers but are:

* Self-directing--we now have the ability to create our own, personal curriculum around the ideas or topics that we are most passionate about. We no longer require curriculum to be delivered to us. We need to help our students find their passions and pursue them in the context of online networks in ethical, effective, organized and safe ways. And finding a balance between the online and offline life is also a "literacy" in this age. There are so many ways to communicate these days (blogs, wikis, IM, text, etc.) that it's easy to get overwhelmed.
* Self-selecting--in this world, learning spaces are created, not provided. And teachers are not assigned, they are selected. The creation and nurturing of these highly collaborative spaces and communities is a new "literacy" that we need to help our students develop. How do we find the best teachers? How do we connect to them? How to we build communities with others that are supportive and effective?
* Self-editing--whereas most of us were educated in a world where the materials we worked with had been edited by someone else along the way, in today's world, less and less of what we read is now "edited" in the traditional sense. So, reading and writing is no longer enough; we need to develop people who are effective editors of information as well.
* Self-organizing--the Dewey Decimal system doesn't serve the online world well, so we have to organize our own stuff. To do that, we use tags and social bookmarking systems, building folksonomies where we organize the Web together.
* Self-reflecting--as we become more and more in charge of our own learning, we need to develop the ability to reflect upon and assess our own work. This "metacognitive" work can involve a number of different genres and tools.
* Self-publishing--our students will need to be literate at sharing out the work they produce because that increases the connections and conversations that can lead to further learning. Blogs, wikis, podcasts and video are among the publishing skills they will need to have.

Or the New Media Literacies Project.

From the Executive Summary - Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century

The new skills include:

* Play— the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving
* Performance— the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
* Simulation— the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
* Appropriation— the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
* Multitasking— the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
* Distributed Cognition— the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
* Collective Intelligence— the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
* Judgment— the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
* Transmedia Navigation— the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
* Networking— the ability to search for synthesize, and disseminate information
* Negotiation— the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

Fostering such social skills and cultural competencies requires a more systemic approach to media education in the United States. Everyone involved in preparing young people to go out into the world has contributions to make in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in our society. Schools, afterschool programs, and parents have distinctive roles to play as they do what they can in their own spaces to encourage and nurture these skills.

New Media Literacies Project

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