Five years ago, if you'd shown most people the words on the next slide they would have thought you were speaking gibberish. Some of you may still see it as that!
CONTINUUM OF DIGITAL LITERACIES
This is the procedural end of the spectrum of digital literacies.
'GESTURES' BY JOAO MACHADO
It's similar to reading a book. When you take the book away you can focus on just how many pre-literate behaviours there are - which way up the book goes, turning pages from left to right, chapters, the index, page numbers, etc.
http://arcticready.com But then there's the conceptual end of the digital literacies spectrum. This is a spoof website about Shell's role in the arctic. Understanding that this is a spoof with serious consequences takes a fairly high level of digital literacies.
history is (a bit) like digital literacies
I used to teach History. Lots of the detective skills you need for History you also need for digital literacies. But what do we mean when we add a prefix to literacy like 'digital' literacy or 'media' literacy or even 'health' literacy?
— EDTECH HULK (@EDTECHHULK)
April 11, 2011
I came across this tweet last year whilst I was writing my thesis. It made me laugh. Are we just trying to make an area in which we're interested sound more important? No, I don't think so.
This is my grandmother. She's 89. You can see the iPad next to her. Even though tablet devices are several orders of magnitude easier to use than traditional desktop computers she has literally no idea how to use it - either on a procedural or conceptual level. Additionally, she is of a generation where she has had the choice whether or not to use such devices. She can choose if she wants to level up in digital literacies. It's an interest-based thing for her. That's less and less the case for people younger than her - and almost impossible for my children.
Digital literacy is a
condition, not a threshold.
My grandmother has chosen not to self-identify as someone who is digitally literate, and that's because digital literacies have to do with identity. As Allan Martin said back in 2006, digital literacy is a condition (a way of being) not a threshold to cross. There'll always be new tools and concepts for us to learn in the digital realm.
Beetham & Sharpe (2009)
Practices ("I do...")
Skills ("I can...")
Access ("I have...")
So we can get people to level up in their digital skills by encouraging them to follow the trajectory suggested by Beetham & Sharpe (2009) - moving from access through to attributes. The top of the pyramid involves the individual reflecting on the fact that they are digitally literate.
Academics like their umbrella terms
But what do we mean when we say 'digital literacy' anyway? It's one amongst a plethora of so-called 'New Literacies' …and the trouble is that academics really like their umbrella terms. One says that Media Literacy includes Digital Literacy and Visual Literacy, then someone else comes along and says that Media Literacy includes Digital Literacy and Information Literacy. Then another one comes along and tries to define a completely new term. It never seems to get anywhere…
My doctoral thesis (on a wiki)
I wrote my doctoral thesis on digital literacies. It seemed like a very confusing world and I wanted to be able to provide some guidance to educators, something they could get their teeth stuck into. I wrote the entire thing out in the open, getting lots of feedback from unexpected places along the way. I've donated it to the public domain under a CC0 license. I'll come back to that idea of openness later.
Instead of coming up with one definition to rule them all, which is a futile task, I decided it would be better to come up with the 'essential elements' of digital literacies - those things that are common to most, if not all, definitions of digital literacies. So here we are, when I reviewed the literature around the world I found the following elements:
If there's anything you can think of that's missing from there, I'd love to hear it. Seriously.
These elements obviously overlap massively, but the important thing is that people can then go away into their particular context and co-create a definition of digital literacies with their colleagues and stakeholders. I believe from a change management point of view this has much greater power than a top-down imposition of someone else's definition who is, after all, operating in a different context.
So you'll notice that I've been talking about digital literacies - plural - rather than the singular term 'digital literacy'. I think it's important to recognise that the digital world is diverse enough for there not to be a single digital literacy.
Essential elements of digital literacies
example 1 - editing a wikipedia article
Elements: Constructive, Civic, Critical
One advantage of the 'essential elements' approach is that you get interesting learning activities by considering two or more of the elements together. So here, for example, editing a Wikipedia article might be seen as contributing to the Constructive, Civic and Critical elements.
Example 2 - participating in a backchannel
Or here's another example: using something like Twitter to participate in a conference 'backchannel'. This might include the Cultural, Confident and Communicative elements.
example 3 - audio/video/image mashup
Or another: creating an audio, video or image mashup like the Obama video we saw earlier. That might include the Cultural, Cognitive and Creative elements.
I haven't really got time to go into each element in any depth today - this is more of an overview. But if you're interested in any in particular please do ask me either in the questions afterwards of after the event.