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Joel's Multiple Literacies

Page history last edited by bloch10@... 15 years, 1 month ago


Michael Wesch


I'm a member of the first generation of digital natives of a technology they called called television. When I watch Michael Wesch's film, I remember that teachers asked the same question back then. I could have held up a little sign about how many hours of television I watched compared to how many books I read. Text is Visual. Teachers wanted to know how they could incorporate this visual experience into the linear world of our classrooms But other teachers pushed back: Should students be doing the same thing inside the classroom as they are doing outside the classroom? Maybe we should push back.


There is a scene in the movie where a student raises signs that says her generation didn't create the problems but they will have to fix them. As an adult, my response is "Get a life" What generation didn't have to fix the problems caused by the previous generations. Neil Postman wrote about educating my generation that since they watched television all the time, why should they watch television in the classroom. Maybe just because these students blog, email, textmessage, and twitter in their lives, should they be doing that in the classroom.



The New London Group


The New London group raise a question that goes back a couple thousand of years ago. Are all literacies alike? Is reading a book the same as reading a Facebook profile? Is writing a research paper the same as writing an email? If writing is designing semiotic resources, then why are we teaching it. If students are reading facebook profiles and writing email outside of class, should they be doing it inside of class as well? 


Kim Cofino


One aspect of Kim' talk I am particularly interested in is the evangelical nature of the discussion. One of the advantages of working at a large institution, such as Ohio State, is that I have a lot of resources both inside my department and outside the department. Perhaps because of the availability of these resources, I don't care too much about whether my colleagues "shift" along with me. In my book, I tried to take a more critical look at the use of technologies (perhaps that is why it isn't selling well). I think teachers, like everyone else, are both conservative and rational and when they are shown how these new technologies address the problems they are having in their classrooms, they will become more interested in using these technologies Often they are overwhelmed by the frequent shifts among technologies or frustrated by the lack of support. If they don't follow, the fault is ours, not theirs.


Keen vs. Weinberger


Before we had a child, my wife and I went to the movies 2-3 times a week. Afterwards, we went zero times a week. So I got a subscription to Netfilx, the on line dvd service, and bought a new television, so again we could see movies 2-3 times a week, cocooning in our living room. Although we miss the theatre-going experience, I realized that we gained gained control over what movies we could see, when we could see them, and how we watched them. We no longer had to rely on a couple of gatekeepers at the local cinemas to decide which movies I could see. I could create a queue using a variety of traditional (movie reviews) and non-traditional filters, so we could select whatever movie we wanted, keep it as long as we need to, and if we wanted to stop the movie and chat, we could. Netflix was one of the central examples of The Long Tail given in Chris Anderson's book. It also exemplifes the potential and pitfalls of the idea that Everything is Miscellaneous. We have an infinite amount of information to sort through, which places a maximum amount of pressure on our ability to make judgements about the quality of the information. Of course, this is the central issue in this discussion of multiliteracies. Keen argues that in a flat world there are no hierarchies of what is important and what is not. Weinberger feels that once we develop skills for organizing and sorting through all this material, in Siemen's terms, making our own connections between these nodes of information, and thus create a more powerful means of education.

We see the same issue in the area of academic publishing. I just finished a term as guest editor of an open access online journal called Language Learning and Technology. On the one hand, it is based on a radical premise - that anyone can access it without paying exorbitant fees to a publisher or being a member of an institution that subscribes to it. This is one of Keen's concerns: that if we give away all our creative efforts, it will stifle the development of culture. On the other hand, we had very traditional forms of gatekeeping, peer reviewing and editor's decisions, that obstenviely gave the journal a prestige that is important both for how the information is evaluated and how publishing is viewed in traditional terms of tensure and promotion. Academics, of course, have always given away their work for free (sometimes even paying to have it published) but by having publishing tied to tenure and promotion, they get compensated in other ways. 


Diiging and Literacy


I posted by first link to Diig. I'm interested in this idea of public and private hierarchies of information, one's personal folksonomie.. I just started experiementing with WebNotes, which allows me to save links and pieces of text I cut and paste in my own folders. This is my idea of private hierachies. I find it strange that anyone would care what webpages I'm reading, so I never really been interested in submitting links to these sites. I'll see what happens.I gues for the same reason I've never been attracted to to social networking sites like Facebook. I like to lurk.


The issue of tagging information in order to place it in one's categories is at the center of the debate between Keen and Weinberger. Keen deplores the late of a common culture that would inform how these tags are selected. Someone in this course used the term "innappropriate" tag. Keen's point is how does anyone make that judgement if there is no common culture to provide a framework or a set of gatekeepers, like Dewey, for creating and monitoring these categories. How would one decise whether a tag is "inappropriate" if all the tags are based on personal ways of organizing information. Keen goes on to decry the lack of gatekeepers to determine what information is important and what is not. I gues that is where reputation systems come into play. What is the most often submitted tags. In academics, that is how we decide the most important articles - how often they are cited - and what is the reputation of the person who submitted it.


If part of being literate is the ability to organize what we read into meaningul groups so that we make useful connections between them, then these tags are part of literacy practice. At least some people's literacy practices.




I recently sent a proposal for another book to a publisher. Since I'm not worried about the financial (which is little) or the professional (which in my case is littler), I thought I might just publish it myself. There were two concerns. One is getting people to read it. The people that Curtis Bonk mentioned - like Yochai Benkler and Jonathon Zittrain,- are famous so everyone will read them regardless of how they are published. Even with my book bounces between one and two million on the Amazon.com best seller list. Without a publisher to take it to conferences, I don't know who would read it. The second issue is having the book edited. Although I had a number of conflicts with my editors, I appreciated much of the feedback they gave me. Getting qualified people to edit is a big issue. Of course that is big issue. Do you prefer a couple of qualified people ediiting or the potential of having many people, some of them with far more subject-area expertise than I could get from a regular publisher. The problem is whether these people will show up to edit. I review articles for a few academic journals that I know want to encourage new authors to publish. However, I've read a number of articles recently that really aren't ready for being reviewed. A couple of academic have tried to use wikis so people can submit their articles to a wiki and get feedback before they submit them for review. It was a great idea but it failed because not many people showed up to help with the revising.


Second Life


For the most part, I still know more about computers than my 10-year old daughter. But virtual worlds like Second Life may change that. I have never been able to log onto Second Life because I don't have a computer with a video card fast enough to run it. On the other hand, we recently broke down and allowed our daughter to play Webkinzs. Now she is more familiar with avatars and moving through virtual worlds, at least to the extend that these sites for kids allow them to interact. I recently watched someone in my department where he talked with Vance and someone else about what they were doing in Second Life, but he teaches students at the lowest level and I teach at the opposite end, so both personally and professional, I still haven't seen enough value in Second Life to go out and buy a new computer. 


Comments (7)

Dennis Oliver said

at 6:13 pm on Jan 21, 2009

Hi, Joel.

I agree 100% with the points you made about the question that the New London Group re-raised,. Forward-thinking instructors are, of course, asking the same questions and trying to find ways to close the gap between the literacies the younger generations buy into for FaceBook and e-mail and the like; those same instructors are also trying to find ways to help the younger generations become literate in older, more traditional venues. It's a pity that the educational establishment often makes it necessary for forward-thinking educators to become cyberpunks.

I've also noticed a very heavy dose of evangelicalism—or passion, to put it another way—in such folks as Kim Cofino. It reminds me of the "true believers" who tout this or that new pedagogical strategy. Do you remember when Gattegno's Silent Way approach was the only one that worked? How about Suggestopaedia? The situational approach? Task-based learning? Competency-based learning? These and many more all had their heydays, and as each of those insights began to become passe, ELT practitioners invariably said "I follow an eclectic method." You're lucky, by the way, to be in a setting that truly allows you not to care too much about whether your colleagues "shift" along with you. I think inevitably those in less "permissive" settings develop the same attitude, but must often be vigilant against the watchdogs who look for every jot and tittle that diverges from "the way we do things here." Your comment in the last two sentences of your Kim Cofino post is one we should all keep in mind.

I was also glad to see the post on Keen vs Weinberger extended to the arena of academic publishing. The last point in this set of comments is incomprehensible to folks outside academia but all too true to those who are inside. You could also have added that many ambitious academics take primary credit for research done by their students and TAs.

Great comments! Keep them coming!

Vance Stevens said

at 9:33 pm on Jan 26, 2009

Interesting posts Joel, keep em coming. Did you ask if you could tag your posts here? I'm sure you can, when you create them. If you start a discussion in Ning you can tag that as well. Hopefully you can go in and edit your tags. If this is not working for you, if you can't see how to do this, raise the alarm and we'll look into the matter.

I'm sorry I came down with fever, 3rd day now. I have treatment though and am feeling better. Still I spent a couple of evenings after work in bed for 12 hours at a stretch.

I still want to see how these tags can be aggregated. We struggled with this in the writingmatrix project and achieved some successes. We need to see if we can apply what we learned here. I'll try and post tomorrow on that more.

I was listening to a podcast by david warlick in which he said what 'rocks his world' right now is the concept of teacher as master learner. In learning about aggregation there are not gurus here who know exactly how it works and can tell the rest of us. We'll have to try some tricks and learn from everyone's discoveries.

Thanks for chiming in here, Vance

bloch10@... said

at 2:59 pm on Jan 27, 2009

thanks for replying. It's just that I don't know where to put the tags. If there is no label that says "tags", I don't know where to put the tag

Vance Stevens said

at 2:01 pm on Jan 28, 2009

Hi Joel, you log on to your wiki, edit the page you wish to tag, and find at lower right where it says Edit Tags. I made a video to illustrate the process: http://www.screencast.com/users/Vance.Stevens/folders/Jing/media/beca6f3c-9f36-4135-a077-b9750e520dde or http://tinyurl.com/pbwikitags
hth, Vance

Mariel Amez said

at 11:52 pm on Feb 1, 2009

Thank you, Joel, for your comprehensive work! I've linked to it in my blog


Vance Stevens said

at 5:50 pm on Feb 6, 2009

I just visited Marel's link and left a comment there :-)

Vida said

at 4:42 am on Mar 26, 2009

Hi Joel,

Very rich food for thought. Thank you.

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