3.2.10

[new media & innovative curriculum]

Via New Media Literacies Blog:


New Media Literacies Newsletter
NML Announces its Monthly Webinar Series

Webinar Series

NML has recently partnered with New Hampshire's Department of Education to facilitate a year-long professional development initiative using the new media literacies as a springboard for developing innovative curriculum. Our goal is to help foster a broader perspective of what it means to be media literate in the digital age, and offer tools for translating the social skills and cultural competencies outlined in the white paper Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Jenkins et al., 2006) into meaningful and engaging learning experiences in the classroom and beyond.

These NH educators are exploring the urgent challenges that 21st Century learners face by expanding their own learning experiences using a participatory, digital model of professional develmopment. In this context, educators are able to practice their own skills as teachers by creating, collaborating, connecting, and circulating with one another in an interactive, multi-media environment. Not only are they developing new materials for their own schools and districts, but also an 8-part webinar series focused on a comprehensive, practical understanding of the NML skills for the larger educational community.

The 8-part series will begin on February 11th and share the framework of social skills and cultural competencies which shapes the work of New Media Literacies, and illustrate the skills by looking more closely at learning through such cultural phenomenon as computer game guilds, youtube video production, Wikipedia, fan fiction, Second Life and other virtual worlds, music remixing, social network sites, and cosplay. Each webinar will examine closely new curricular materials which have emerged from New Media Literacies, Global Kids, Harvard's GoodPlay Project, Common Sense Media, the George Lucas Foundation, and other projects which are seeking to introduce these skills into contemporary educational practices and leave participants with plenty of opportunities to take the material, information and methods back into their classroom.

We will host the first webinar on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 7pm EST and focus on the new media literacies, judgment and appropriation as well as copyright, fair use, and creative commons.

Our special guests will be Flourish Klink, a graduate student at MIT's Comparative Media Studies Program, and Erin Reilly, NML Research Director.

See the full listing of upcoming webinars and get information on how to join the sessions at http://projectnml.ning.com/page/nmls-monthly-webinar-series.

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25.1.10

[teaching digital writing]



If I was still living in England..... This conference will be brilliant and my ph.d examiner (Ruth Page) and ph.d supervisor (Sue Thomas) will be speaking too along with "Inanimate Alice" author Kate Pullinger.



http://www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/events/event_detail.php?event_index=281

Cost: No charge, but we reserve the right to charge a £15:00 non-attendance fee.

Last Date for registration: 14 Apr 10


Event Description:
Digital Writing crosses over Media, Creative Writing, Art & Design and English departments and demand for more higher education courses continues to grow. How are we meeting that demand and how is digital writing being taught? This free, one-day symposium is an opportunity to discuss, debate and sample Digital Writing with leading practitioners and university lecturers.

- How do we teach students to analyse digital writing?
- How do we teach students to create digital writing?
- What are the particular challenges and rewards of teaching and learning this developing genre?


These questions and others will inform the presentations and discussions.
The event takes place at the state-of-the-art Phoenix Square, in Leicester where delegates will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on workshop and demonstration. Undergraduate and postgraduate students are welcome.

Confirmed speakers include: Award winning digital novelist – Kate Pullinger, Sue Thomas, Ruth Page and Tim Wright.
Programme: (subject to alteration) 

9:30 Registration
Coffee/Tea


10:00 Welcome
Brett Lucas, English Subject Centre


10:10 Presentation
The Transliteracy Research Group
Kate Pullinger & Sue Thomas, De Montfort University


11:00 Panel Presentation & Discussion
Doing Digital Writing
Tim Wright, Digital author
Donna Leishman, Digital author
Respondant TBC


12:00 Lunch

13:00 Panel Presentation & Discussion: Teaching Digital Writing
Digital Writing and Pedagogy: How do We Teach, What Do We Teach?
Matt Hayler, University of Exeter
Designing Narratives and New Media
Will Slocombe, Aberystwyth University

The Next Frontier? Teaching electronic literature in the undergraduate classroom
Ruth Page, Birmingham City University


14:30 Hands-on Workshop and Demonstration
Tim Wright, Digital author


15:30 Keynote Address
Michael Bhaskar, Digital publisher, Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books


16:30 Closing Remarks
Kate Pullinger & Brett Lucas


16:45 Close



Note: image from Engadget





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17.11.09

[roots of reading]

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1.11.09

[new model for narrative: electric literature]


The founders of Electric Literature, a new quarterly literary magazine, seek nothing less than to revitalize the short story in the age of the short attention span. To do so, they allow readers to enjoy the magazine any way they like: on paper, Kindle, e-book, iPhone and, starting next month, as an audiobook. YouTube videos feature collaborations among their writers and visual artists and musicians. Starting next month, Rick Moody will tweet a story over three days. 

In its first two issues, this year, the magazine showcased some of the country’s best writers — Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Lydia Davis, Jim Shepard — and created the kind of buzz that is a marketer’s dream. With a debut issue in June and an autumn issue out last week, each consisting of five stories, the magazine has racked up complimentary reviews everywhere from The Washington Post to a blogger on Destructive Anachronism, who wrote, “High quality content + innovative marketing + multimedia could just equal the new model for literature, post-print.”

[...]


As for Mr. Moody, he said he came up with the idea of Twitter fiction after he fell in love with the new form. “It’s like trying to write in haiku continuously,” he said in an e-mail message.
“I like that E.L. seems as though it will try just about anything, and I think it’s important for literature that it’s always pushing the envelope, colliding with other forms, trying to find new envelopes for its message, and generally renewing itself,” Mr. Moody’s message continued. He called it a method that was partly pioneered by magazines like McSweeny’s and Ninth Letter.
Stephen O’Connor, whose story “Love” is in the second Electric Literature issue, said, “They approached me after a story came out in The New Yorker.” At about 12,000 words, he added, “Love” is a bit long for a conventional literary magazine.
“I’m hoping it will be a younger audience, all those kids like my students at Columbia and Sarah Lawrence who are always on Facebook and iPhone,” Mr. O’Connor said.

[...]


“We have an optimistic message at a time of pessimism,” Mr. Hunter said. “As writers, we got tired of the doom and gloom. The future is not something you acquiesce to, it’s something you create.”




From the NY Times

Image from Electric Literature. Follow Electric Literature on Twitter.





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31.8.09

[getting students to read]

Here is a great video I think I'll be showing all my first year undergrads. Author Jim Trelease (author of The Read-Aloud Handbook) compares reading to the process of cutting down a tree; both need to be done slowly and carefully.

Take a look:


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14.7.09

[Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics]



The Large, the Small and the Human Mind
The 8th Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics

Saturday, January 16, 2010, 12 – 7 p.m.
Sunday, January 17, 2010, 12 – 7 p.m.

Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne Early Register: http://www.neugalu.ch/e_bienn_2010.html#9

Roger Penrose’s hotly disputed book The Large, the Small and the Human Mind (1997) contributed to a new scientific world-view of physics and a more complete understanding of conscious minds at the boundary between the physics of the small and the physics of the large. In a similar vein, the Swiss Biennial 2010, The Large, the Small and the Human Mind, will trigger debate about the unequal status that we have attributed to the physical world “out there” and our many beliefs and mental conceptions “in us” about this world, and it explores the fingers of science, rationality, ontology, epistemology, reflexivity, ethics, ecology, and politics that point to the realities of our beliefs.

The New Gallery Lucerne organises this two-day conference which brings together a group of internationally renowned scientists, sociologists, philosophers, ecologists, writers, artists, and policy-makers. From the debate about the pursuit of a “Theory of Everything” (TOE) in physics, extreme objectivity, our relationship to the “Universe,” to “human,” “nature,” “human culture,” and the “human mind,” The Large, the Small and the Human Mind will touch on the world’s first climate war, the destructive side of globalization, and the contradictions of our striving for unlimited economic growth and consumption. “When the sage points at the Moon,” says the Chinese proverb, “the fool looks at his fingertip.” The Large, the Small and the Human Mind offers a critical look at the fingertip, and from it to the Moon. From the question of how to free Pandora’s Hope, to the meaning of Leonardo’s science for our time, and the significance of the Space Age for humanity, the Swiss Biennial will reflect on these topics from an interdisciplinary perspective with the aim to create a deeper and finer sense of possibility.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Michel Bitbol (physicist and philosopher of mind, Director of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique [CNRS], Paris)
Fritjof Capra (physicist and systems theorist, Berkeley)
John Horgan (science writer/author, Director of the Center for Science Writings [CSW], Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, USA)
Kevin W. Kelley (artist, author, and entrepreneur, San Rafael / USA)
Bruno Latour (sociologist, Scientific Director and Professor at Sciences Po, Paris)
Pier Luigi Luisi (Professor Emeritus ETH Zurich, Professor at the Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Roma)
Robert Poole (historian, University of Cumbria, Lancaster / UK)
Harald Welzer (social psychologist, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Memory Research, Essen)
Margaret Wertheim (science writer, curator, cultural historian of physics, Director of the Institute for Figuring, Los Angeles)

Confirmed Presenter
David McConville (artist, Director of Noospheric Research, The Elumenati, Asheville / USA)

Confirmed Chairpersons
Christina Ljungberg (University of Zurich)
Josef Mitterer (University of Klagenfurt)
Isabelle Stengers (Free University of Brusells)

Confirmed Leader of the Panel Discussions
Peter Weibel (Chairman and CEO, Center for Art and Media [ZKM], Karlsruhe)

A New Gallery Lucerne conference in association with the Swiss Museum of Transport, the City of Lucerne, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (BAK), and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne, Coronado Hall

CHF 90.00 (CHF 65.00 concessions) – Booking required http://www.neugalu.ch/e_bienn_2010.html#9

The Large, the Small and the Human Mind continues the Swiss Biennial’s aim to involve people from all faculties, schools of thought and walks of life in a critical dialogue concerned with science, technological innovation, art, and society which they have long sought themselves but for which there has been no point of contact to date. The Swiss Biennial sees its role as that of a touchstone for such dialogues. Its interdisciplinary activities and projects are concerned with new challenges posed by widely varying fields of knowledge and research. Find the Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics on http://www.neugalu.ch

New Gallery Lucerne and The Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics
P.O. Box 3501, 6002 Lucerne / Switzerland, Tel. +41 (0) 41 370 38 18
Image credit: Jacket photograph, Earth, from Apollo 4 (November 1967) © NASA.






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29.6.09

[towards information literacy]


This Unesco report (from 2008) has a succinct definition of information literacy that has to do with people's capacity rather than specific rules:

"Recognise their information needs;
Locate and evaluate the quality of information;
Store and retrieve information;
Make effective and ethical use of information, and
Apply information to create and communicate knowledge."


Information literacy (as noted here and in the digital cultures master's module) doesn't just apply to one context, when using a computer for example, it's applicable throughout contexts and I think that's what defines capacity as literacy - readers/users can move through a variety of contexts (much like transliteracy). "IL skills are necessary for people to be effective lifelong learners and to contribute in knowledge societies."

These elements of information literacy say it all - they cross contexts:

"a. Recognise information needs
b. Locate and evaluate the quality of information
c. Store and Retrieve information
d. Make effective and ethical use of information, and
e. Apply information to create and communicate knowledge."


Citation info:
via ICTlogy.

Read more of the report here.






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24.6.09

[*becoming* technologically iterate]


On ‘Becoming’ Technologically Literate: A Multiple Literacies Theory Perspective/p>

doi:10.2304/ciec.2008.5.4.445

VIEW FULL TEXT | BACK TO CONTENTS LIST

This article uses a multiple literacies theory framework to explore the processes of ‘becoming’ technologically literate through a year-long ethnographic study of two Master of Education pre-service second language teachers, a Latina woman and an African American woman, who learned how to use computer technology to teach Spanish at a large Midwestern university. The case studies of these two women are analyzed to gain insights into how teacher education programs can support racial minority pre-service teachers in ‘becoming’ technologically literate. First, the authors provide an overview of the multiple literacies theory developed by Masny. Second, the stories of the two pre-service teachers are presented. Finally, curricular and pedagogical recommendations for second language education Master of Education programs are provided.








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4.6.09

[world digital library]


The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

The principal objectives of the WDL are to:

  • Promote international and intercultural understanding;
  • Expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet;
  • Provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences;
  • Build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.
Items on the WDL may easily be browsed by place, time, topic, type of item, and contributing institution, or can be located by an open-ended search, in several languages. Special features include interactive geographic clusters, a timeline, advanced image-viewing and interpretive capabilities. Item-level descriptions and interviews with curators about featured items provide additional information.

Navigation tools and content descriptions are provided in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Many more languages are represented in the actual books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and other primary materials, which are provided in their original languages.

The WDL was developed by a team at the U.S. Library of Congress, with contributions by partner institutions in many countries; the support of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the financial support of a number of companies and private foundations.


Read more about the background, partners, contributors and more.




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27.5.09

[swarm theory and social media]


I'm in the final stages of editing a selection of articles to appear in an upcoming journal issue and one of the articles deals with swarm theory. Many readers here would recognise Howard Rhiengold's Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution or perhaps Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang who coined the term in 1989 (see the *trusty* resource wikipedia).

More recently there's the famous National Geographic article on swarm theory: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/07/swarms/miller-text/1 which does an excellent job (exciting and informational) of explaining the science behind swarms. Enter left stage, the ants:

"I used to think ants knew what they were doing. The ones marching across my kitchen counter looked so confident, I just figured they had a plan, knew where they were going and what needed to be done. How else could ants organize highways, build elaborate nests, stage epic raids, and do all the other things ants do?

Turns out I was wrong. Ants aren't clever little engineers, architects, or warriors after all—at least not as individuals. When it comes to deciding what to do next, most ants don't have a clue. "If you watch an ant try to accomplish something, you'll be impressed by how inept it is," says Deborah M. Gordon, a biologist at Stanford University.

How do we explain, then, the success of Earth's 12,000 or so known ant species? They must have learned something in 140 million years.

"Ants aren't smart," Gordon says. "Ant colonies are." A colony can solve problems unthinkable for individual ants, such as finding the shortest path to the best food source, allocating workers to different tasks, or defending a territory from neighbors. As individuals, ants might be tiny dummies, but as colonies they respond quickly and effectively to their environment. They do it with something called swarm intelligence."


And that, in a nutshell, is collective intelligence and why crowd sourcing can be beneficial (knowing the right questions to ask helps too) and why tools like twitter are great resources for getting tips (maybe even on finding the shortest path to food).


As the National Geographic writer, Peter Miller, says of the ant colony the same can be said for social media: "no one's in charge."






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19.5.09

[critical digital literacy]

I believe that access to technology (digital or otherwise) is not synonomous with literacy. Via Doug Belshaw I find a resonance in a passage from Allan Martin’s Digital Literacy and the “Digital Society” in Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices. The notion of identity (biography) as a constructing and reconstructive practise plays alongside notions of digital literacy.

"
Society is being transformed by the passage from the “solid” to the “liquid” phases of modernity, in which all social forms melt faster than new ones can be cast. They are not given enough time to solidify and cannot serve as the frame of reference for human actions and long-term life-strategies because their allegedly short life expectation undermines efforts to develop a strategy that would require the consistent fulfillment of a “life-project.” (Bauman, 205, p.303)

For those who do not belong to the global elite, life has become an individual struggle for meaning and livelihood in a world that has lost its predictability… Consumption has become the only reality, the main topic of TV and of conversation, and the focus of leisure activity. The modes of consumption become badges of order, so that to wear a football strip of a certain team (themselves now multinational concerns) or a logo of a multinational company become temporary guarantors of safety and normality.

In this society, the construction of individual identity has become the fundamental social act. The taken-for-granted structures of modern (i.e., industrial) society - the nation state, institutionalized religion, social class - have become weaker and fuzzier as providers of meaning and, to that extent, of predictability. Even the family has become more atomized and short term. Under such conditions individual identity becomes the major life-project. You have to choose the pieces (from those available to you) rather than having them (largely) chosen for you. In this context, awareness of the self assumes new importance, reflexivity is a condition of life; a life that needs to be constantly active and constantly re-created. And care is needed, because each individual is responsible for their own biography. Risk and uncertainty have become endemic features of the personal biography, and individual risk-management action is thus an essential element of social action (Beck, 1992, 2001). The community can be no longer regarded as a given that confers aspects of identity, and the building of involvement in communities has become a conscious action-forming part of the construction of individual identity. Individualization has positive as well as negative aspects: the freedom to make one’s own biography has never been greater, a theme frequently repeated in the media. But the structures of society continue to distribute the choices available very unequally, and the price of failure is greater since social support is now offered only equivocally."





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21.4.09

[digital arts and culture conference: cfp]

The biannual Digital Arts & Culture conference takes place in California in December 2009 (http://dac09.uci.edu)

The abstract submission deadline = May 1st

This time the conference is organised around themes, here is a very interesting one:

"Theme: The Present and Future of Humanist Inquiry in the Digital Field
What contributions may literary, poetic, and aesthetic idioms of humanist inquiry -- traditionally associated with problems of lyrical expression, narrativity, linguistic subjectivity, and authorial and readerly agencies -- continue to offer to the analysis of medial practices and systems in the era of mobile, distributed, and social media? The crux of this question, we
propose, lies in the specifically historical purchase of humanist method: its ability to (re)situate new symbolic practices in complex and nuanced relation to prior traditions and atavisms of expressive language and action -- in contrast to the reductively progressivist, de-historicizing impulses of much of contemporary digitalism.

This theme welcomes exemplary close readings (literary-theoretical, formalist, narratological, ludological, etc.) of electronic literature and poetry, single- and multiple-player computer games, social media, and hard and soft medial apparatuses of the digital field. Especially encouraged are such close readings which also make general claims regarding the significance of humanist investigations of digital arts and cultures."





More info at:
http://dac09.uci.edu/call.html


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28.3.09

[the future of curriculum]


I read this article in the guardian with great interest...On the surface some curriculum reforms seem positive: promoting critical digital literacy...but focusing on certain applications per se (like Twitter and Wikipedia) might be a bit too constraining...Twitter is hot now, but in 5 years? Another app. will have come along with which our students (and teachers) should be au fait. Interestingly the new curriculum notes that children need more time to acquire these kinds of skills (ok) and that it's up to each teacher how and when to use these technological tools (of course)...but where is the time to help the teachers themselves come to terms with each new device? Plus, as always it seems, shifting the focus to technology raises more fears about the death of the book: "Computer skills and keyboard skills seem to be as important as handwriting in this. Traditional books and written texts are downplayed in response to web-based learning." I mean, surely digital literacy is not nearly as important as cursive writing...


Read the entire article here and the comments here.




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28.12.08

[haptics and hypertext]


"Reading is a multi-sensory activity, entailing perceptual, cognitive and motor interactions with whatever is being read."


Anne Mangen at the National Centre for Reading Education and Research, University of Stavanger published a paper in October on haptics and immersion in hypertexts such as M.D. Coverley's Califia (2000), C. Guyer and M. Joyce's Lasting Image (2000) and there is reference to afternoon.

Mangen's article is interesting in it's approach, taking a phenomenological one. She explains: "If we take the main purpose and motivation for our reading to be that of becoming immersed in a fictional world, then the text will have to provide the necessary setting for such a phenomenological sense of presence – by way of whatever modality telling the story."

Though people do seem to equate turning the pages of print books with clicking a mouse Mangen notes that these two activities are quite different: there is an "ontological" difference.
"The feeling of literally being in touch with the text is lost when your actions – clicking with the mouse, pointing on touch screens or scrolling with keys or on touch pads – take place at a distance from the digital text, which is, somehow, somewhere inside the computer, the e-book or the mobile phone."
Mangen goes on to explain that the demand to click/interact in certain hypertext stories actually undoes any possible sense of immersion (a la Marie-Laure Ryan).

"The links in a hypertext fiction present themselves as an experiential potential, a latently accessible actualisation of something currently unavailable, which becomes readily accessible with the click of a mouse. The sensory–motor affordances of the computer make it very easy to rekindle our attention, getting access to something beyond our present experience. As such, text or icons that yield (i.e., hot spots) afford haptic interaction with the computer. We experience these as links to be clicked on, and such
affordance is necessarily incompatible with phenomenological immersion."


Though I agree with a large part of what Mangen and others argue, I do wonder whether there is a different kind of reader, perhaps emerging in line with this turned-on, 21st century, tech world, a reader who actually becomes more immersed the more physical the demand of reading becomes? I know reading some narratives like Donna Leishman's Red Riding Hood (mentioned in this blog before) which requires a greater degree of haptics (compared with afternoon et al), I found myself more "in" the story, actually moving my own way around. Perhaps gamer-readers won't find this cross-modal situation distracting, though Mangen notes that as a "psychobiological rule" we tend to allow motor senses to overpower cognitive ones.


Read the full article here (if you have access):
Hypertext fiction reading: haptics and immersion, by Anne Mangen in the
Journal of Research in Reading, Volume 31, Issue 4 (p 404-419).

See also this article that is freely available: Storybooks On Paper Better For Children Than Reading Fiction On Computer Screen, According to Expert in ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008).




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18.11.08

[pirate philosophy @ sussex]


'Pirate Philosophy (Version 3.0): Open Access, Open Editing, Open Content, Open Media'

Speaker: Professor Gary Hall Co-Founding, Editor of Culture Machine (http://www.culturemachine.net/) And of Open Humanities Press (OHP), an open access publishing house dedicated to critical and cultural theory

Arts D110 at 5.00
Wednesday Nov 19

All Welcome

University of Sussex:
Centre for Material Digital Culture/ Department of Media and Film <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/rcmdc/>



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12.11.08

[reading flabuert's a simple heart]

A little while ago I mentioned that Andy had let me raid his office library (such fun!) and one of the many books that I nabbed was Flaubert's Three Tales.

"A Simple Heart" focuses on Félicité, a "maidservant" who "did all the cooking and the housework, the sewing, the washing, and the ironing. She could bridle a horse, fatten poultry, and churn butter, and she remained faithful toher mistress, who was by no means an easy person to get on with." I am immediately sad for
Félicité. On the third page we learn that her father dies when she was young and then her mother died leaving her sisters to look after her. When they followed their own paths (suggesting none of them were concerned or even really aware of Félicité), they left a farmer to take Félicité in. This new life meant perpetual cold - physical and emotional. After this awful experience, Félicité finds a job at a different farm where her new employers are kind to her even if the other help aren't. At this time she meets a man, falls in love, and then has her heart broken. Needing a change, Félicité finds a position with Madame Aubain where she gets "installed" like furniture in the house and also finds herself taking care of Paul and Virginie. When those around her leave or die, Félicité turns to religion (or rather, her interpretation of religion) as a panacea for her pain. The narrative begins by suggesting an unfolding future: "for half a century the women of Pont-l'Évêque envided Mme Aubain her maidservant Félicité." This is interesting because the way that Félicité is described, she is not "becoming," she is a woman already "installed" and "fixed." So dedicated and loyal, she seems complete in the same way that she ensures all her tasks are. Throughout the story there seem to be opportunities where we might begin to see a blossoming Félicité. She would "keep on kissing" the two children (present continuous) until Madame told her to stop. Emotion also seems to be a barrier to becoming, Félicité is "eaten up inside" and that prevents her from taking up hobbies or work that might otherwise involve her thoughts. Emotion is also detrimental to Virginie who originally becomes quite ill because of a fright. Later on she must refrain from playing the pain because "the slightest emotion upset her." At the end of the narrative, Félicité, who we have come to know as a loyal, selfless and hard working but "wooden" and who on her death bed remains finicky about tidiness, nonetheless experiences a deeply multimodal passing. Dying of pneumonia, Félicité smells the "mystical" scent of incense. We see her closer her eyes, we hear her slowing heart, we feel the fountain drying. Finally in death she can be loyal to herself and immerse herself in sensory perception.




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28.10.08

[attack racism]

Apparently "Margaret Wente is one of Canada's leading columnists." Apparently "she provokes heated debate with her views... Fine. I think we'd agree that heated debate and discussion are central to the sharing and deepening of knowledge. However, read these statements: "it is simply not permissible to say that aboriginal culture was less evolved than European culture or Chinese culture – even though it's true" and "The fact that North American cultures never evolved further."

I think most open-minded people would agree that there are some huge (unfounded) generalisations being made here. Wente begins her "article" with a nod towards the recent racist comments made by Dick Pound (International Olympic City) [he said: "We must not forget that 400 years ago, Canada was a land of savages, with scarcely 10,000 inhabitants of European origin, while in China, we're talking about a 5,000-year-old civilization."]. While Wente admits that Pound's remarks were "stupid" she explains why, not simply because his line is hugely offensive, but importantly because "The last thing they [B.C. government and VANOC] want is for native protests to
"steal the spotlight. Comments about “savages,” in whatever language, are not helpful." Nice. So basically, say what you like, offend whom you like, as long as business can carry on as planned.

As Nick Reo at Turtle Talk notes, "her conclusions are poorly founded, contradictory, and backward-ic."

Wente attempts to support her views by referencing an "academic" text about to be published by McGill-Queenh's University Press called Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry (I won't add a link as they really shouldn't get any more publicity - plus, since when is a culture an industry?). In this book, Wente explains that the authors

"knoc[k] the stuffing out of the prevailing mythology that surrounds the history of first peoples. That mythology holds that aboriginal culture was equal or superior to European culture. At the time of contact, North America was occupied by a race of gentle pastoralists with their own science, their own medicine and their own oral history that was every bit as rich as Europe's.

The truth is different. North American native peoples had a neolithic culture based on subsistence living and small kinship groups. They had not developed broader laws or institutions, a written language, evidence-based science, mathematics or advanced technologies. The kinship groups in which they lived were very small, simply organized and not very productive. Other kinship groups were regarded as enemies, and the homicide rate was probably rather high. Until about 30 years ago, the anthropological term for this developmental stage was 'savagery.'"

and

"Today, “traditional knowledge,” which generally resides among the elders, is sought after by governments, studied in universities around the world, and recognized in environmental assessment processes. But Ms. Widdowson says most of it is useless – a heap of vague beliefs and opinions that can't be verified or tested. Why have the muskoxen drifted west? Because, according to the elders, the animals were “following the people because they missed them and wanted their company.”

The references in the book by Widdowson and Howard also cannot be taken at face-value, as substantiation of their wild views because also those academics and their ideas have been "distorted, taken out of context, and at times used to support conclusions that are diametrically opposed to our own [those of us who have been writing on indigenous oppression and self determination] perspectives." As Deborah Simmons further explains:

"In short, Widdowson and Howard have the temerity to argue that indigenous societies are a throwback to an anachronistic Neolithic stage of social history. In the face of rational modernisation, indigenous people are inherently inferior and constituted by lack: they are illiterate, dysfunctional, dependent and corrupt. The population explosion in their communities is causing serious problems.

Notwithstanding their expanding population, according to Widdowson and Howard they do not qualify for nationhood, dispersed as they are in small communities across the continent. Thus self-determination is not an option. The solution for all their “problems” is for indigenous people to submit to the evolutionary nature of history; to recognize the inherent superiority of scientific methods; to relocate from their traditional territories to urban centres; and to become “socialized” (ie. assimilated) into Canadian capitalism. Widdowson and Howard don’t hold out much hope for this solution to be workable in the near term, given “tribal” superstitions and resistance to progressive innovations. Clearly the only logical solution for the present is to cut funding for indigenous organisations and continue what they describe in positive terms as the “warehousing” of indigenous peoples on the margins of Canadian society."

Matthew L.M. Fletcher offers a response:

"First off, broad generalizations about the hundreds and thousands of North American cultures prior to, say, 1492, are utterly worthless, except for persons trying to make a political point. None of the above statements, taken together, is true for any specific group anywhere in the world. I’m from Michigan, as is my family’s communities, and they weren’t so savage. They had enormous agricultural output, even north of the so-called freeze line in mid-Michigan. In fact, these “unproductive” Indians fed the British (later American) fort at Michilimackinac in the 18th and 19th centuries with surplus corn, sqaush, beans, and other veggies."

Though the article is deeply misinformed, unfounded and largerly generalist, scarily, "we can expect it to have a long shelf life and misinform scores of people." Scary too are the myriad of comments to the Globe article that perpetuate and support these kinds of generalisations and misinformation.





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5.10.08

[21st century learning...4 educators]

As educators we are aware of the necessity to share with students ways of understanding and interacting with 21st century literacies. Not only should we help students use online resources but we must help them develop an appropriate digital literacy - a literacy which is critical of resources (the same goes for offline stuff: who wrote it, when etc...) while helping them navigate the plethora of information. Reading Dean Groom's excellent post on "No Teacher Left Behind" raises several other issues which I think are often overlooked. What about equipping teachers with a 21st century literacy? They too need to learn. And, as Dean and his blog readers note, once that shift into digital literacy is enacted, how does one manage the blurring of work into home time?

"If we want to get more teachers engaged in reading, learning and participating in the exponential growth in the use of social networks as professional development vectors, then there is a significant cost to those teachers - in addition to their normal workload.

This is a personal, not school or government burden. They do it at home – and may are awake at ridiculous hours to do it - because they see the benefits for the kids - not just talk about them.

This cost needs to be recognised, these people need to be recognised! – with more than a pat on the back."


My question on work seeping into non-work time of course affects many people, not just teachers, but perhaps remains most silent within educational realms?

As Lisa Dumicich, explains:
"wondering what my school would do if I got rid of the internet at home?? They rely heavily on me having it at home and using it for work………would they pay for me to have it at home? I had to buy my own laptop as Head of ICT. What would they do if I refused to spend my money on one or refused to use my personal computer for work??? Governemnts and schools have a long way to go in recognizing the true workload and expenses of teachers."






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18.8.08

[transliteracy and education]

Thorough article in the Times Higher on transliteracy and new media in education. The reporter, Hannah Fearne interviewed my ph.d supervisor Prof. Sue Thomas for her thoughts on transliteracy and breaking academic barriers. Some interesting bits:

"Research has a habit of turning up surprising or controversial findings, and none more so than this: Britain's universities are populated with illiterates.

Academics at De Montfort University are researching the nature and impact of a new kind of literacy: the sharp end of modern communication known as "transliteracy". The term describes the ability to read, write and interact on a range of platforms. Think of the media's teenage stereotype, a young girl watching Hollyoaks on television while simultaneously discussing its plotlines on the social networking site Facebook, listening to music on MySpace and texting her friend to discuss home study.

***********

At De Montfort, Sue Thomas, a professor of new media, is more interested in the impact that transliteracy is having on higher education and pedagogy. In these terms, many academics are in essence illiterate, says Thomas. Most would admit it, even taking a certain pride in their part-removal from the world of e-communication. This matters if they find their teaching relationship with hyper-transliterate students breaking down because of an inability to communicate fully with one another.

Thomas believes that if academics cannot show themselves to be transliterate, they will lose the respect of their students. "University is about sharing knowledge," she says, and students expect it to be carried out on their terms, in the ways they are used to. "There is still a huge cultural barrier for some people. We find quite often that librarians and e-learning staff are very open to this, but when you go within the humanities and you look at traditional areas such as English, there is a real resistance to technology."

***********

Academics will eventually be forced to take note because the gap of understanding will lead to further confusion. One of the most tangible dangers of the chasm is a loss of authority over plagiarism. As Thomas explains: "Lecturers who maybe don't understand the web very well will probably be very stressed about recognising plagiarism. Students are also very stressed about wanting to use the web as a resource but are worried about being accused of (breaking rules)."

Thomas believes that as transliteracy shoots up the higher education agenda, academics will be forced to adopt new forms of communication in their teaching. As an indication of how seriously the issue is being taken, the National Union of Students has confirmed that it is carefully monitoring attitudes towards communication and technology."

Read the full article, "Grappling with the Digital Divide, here.

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10.8.08

[digital literacy: what is it and do we really need it?]

I'm reading "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?" and while I'm scrolling through the article I'm googling some of the researchers mentioned (Rand J. Spiro, Elizabeth Birr Moje and Linda A. Jackson) and looking up some of the reports and studies. I'm also skimming through Research in Research Quarterly and Journal of Research in Reading (and complaining to myself loudly because of the 12 month embargo) and examining brain scan images. Obviously I'm reading and obviously I'm doing it in a manner different from print. But is it better? Better than what exactly? I think this is where my difficulty lies. It seems, as with the NYT article, that this is a vs matter. Print vs digital. Reading vs surfing. Literacy vs adequacy. But it isn't a simple vs issue is it? The video included in the NYT article shows a white affluent family. Each family member enjoys reading but the mum says reading for her is *quiet* and requires a comfy chair: "I can't curl up with my computer." But is this part of a quantitative assessment of online reading? Is it a feature of literacy per se? I wouldn't disagree with anyone that reading online and reading in print are different. But can we generalise and say that all reading online is different from all reading in print? Can we compare Manga online to its offline sibling? I think we could even find suitable comparisons between some early more text-based hypertext stories and print novels. Maybe instead of citing the differences we should be looking at the similarities as that might form part of the base of new literacies education and assessment. Ken Pugh says that reading in print encourages a more reflective stance, allowing time for rumination. Well, would that not only hold if students/readers are encouraged to do so. I know I've skipped to the good bits in books before {of course this is firmly in my past :)}. Do we reflect on what we read *only* when we read in print? Reading online is not always just about the "short bits" that Pugh refers to. Take a look at the project "Evaluating The Development of Scientific Knowledge and New Forms of Reading Comprehension During Online Learning" run by Dr. Donald J. Leu and Dr. Douglas Hartman. Their main research questions addressed the effects that "varying levels of intensity of Internet integration into seventh grade classroom science instruction." Their general findings suggest that:

"Internet integration generates greater online reading comprehension ability. Our results suggest it is better to have no integration or high-intensity integration of the Internet for developing concept knowledge, but not low or moderate intensity integration. Our study also provides preliminary data that suggests online and traditional reading achievement tests are not correlated."

  • internet integration in a seventh grade science classroom resulted in higher achievement levels in online reading comprehension. This was true for both the ORCA-IM and ORCA-Blog; two assessment instruments with good psychometric properties. Each assessment required students to locate, evaluate, synthesize and communicate information on the Internet.
  • Conceptual knowledge development in science was greater among students in the high-intensity Internet integration group and the control group.
  • Consistent with new literacy predictions, we found no association between either of the measures of traditional reading comprehension (January and June DRP)and the measure of online reading comprehension (ORCA-Blog). No evidence of gains on a test of traditional reading comprehension following treatment.


Of course there are different kinds of reading too. Sometimes we read for information (and then maybe on the 'net we have quicker access to more resources) and sometimes maybe we're reading for the whole tactile and sensory experience and then we want our comfy chairs and crisp pages. But as educators, parents and leaders we need not only to address the different reasons our students/children etc... might read but also how. As Gay Ivey, a professor at James Madison University says “I think they need it all.”

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9.7.08

[mentoring = key to digital literacy]

In his talk James Paul Gee tells us about the 4th grade slump: kids who were reading well up until 4th grade (or even earlier today as Gee notes) suddenly become less than proficient. Gee explains that this is due largely to the shift in English language (we're talking about American schools here I think). As kids enter the educational system, English is accessible but at 4th grade academic English (complex and specialist) becomes the norm. Sure kids need to learn academic English as that is the English used in secondary school and definitely at university however maybe there needs to be a longer kind of bridging process where students are guided from a more colloquial language to the academic one?

Just look at Gee's examples of accessible English and academic and envison how 4th graders would approach them:

Interestingly Gee explains that students who cope with the language change and don't suffer any ill effects to their level of literacy are kids who have grown up in surroundings (parents etc...) where academic language features.

However this literacy gap does not just involve language, it also concerns digital technologies/platforms etc... It's not just about access to mp3 players, the 'net, nintendo etc...it's about access to "good mentors" and "good learning systems."






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20.5.08

[new media literacy: principles]

Dan Gillmor: Principles of a New Media Literacy via Jos Schuurmans

An interesting read but I'm not sure about painting "teenagers and children" as "digital natives." Lots of teens I have met don't "already" know how to create media...they need to learn. Some "digital immigrants" aren't old...I don't think this is an age-thing. Imporantly though, Gillmore highlights some important issues: anonymity and transparency.

"Be skeptical of absolutely everything. This means not taking or granted the trustworthiness of what we read, see or hear from media of all kinds, whether from traditional news organizations, blogs, online videos or any other form.

But don’t be equally skeptical of everything. We all have an internal “trust meter” of sorts, largely based on education and experience. We need to bring to digital media the same kinds of parsing we learned in a less complex time when there were only a few primary sources of information. A news article in New York Times or Wall Street Journal starts out in strongly positive territory on that trust meter. An anonymous comment on a random blog, by contrast, starts with negative credibility. Anonymity is an important thing to preserve, because it protects whistleblowers and others for whom speech can be unfairly dangerous. But when people don’t stand behind their words, a reader should always wonder why and make appropriate adjustments.

Understand and learn media techniques. Teenagers and children already know how to create media; they are digital natives. Older people are learning. But younger and older alike are, for the most part, less clear on how communications are designed to persuade if not manipulate. It’s
fine, if not essential, to know how to snap a photo with a mobile phone. It’s just as important to know — and to teach our children — how media creators push our logical and emotional buttons.
Ask more questions. This goes by many names: research, reporting, homework, etc. The Web has already sparked a revolution in commerce, as potential buyers of products and services discover relatively easy ways to learn more before the sale. We need to recognize the folly of making any major decision about our lives based on something we read, hear or see — and the need to keep reporting, sometimes in major ways but more often in small ones, to ensure that we make good choices.


All of the principles above are part of the toolkit of every responsible journalist. So are a few more, including the ones that every traditional journalist of any honor would embrace, namely thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and independence. They boil down to simple but important
notions: Get as much information as possible. When you say something, be sure your facts are correct. Be fair to people and interests from all angles. And be as independent as possible, especially as an independent thinker who knows how to listen, not just lecture.


In the digital world, even more than the analog one, we need to add transparency to that list, because the thinking behind the media deserves exposure in addition to the work itself. Nowhere will this be more important than with citizen journalists — though the traditional media need to
adopt more transparency as well, for their own sakes. They may be paid, individually, not to have conflicts of interest. But that doesn’t mean they work without bias.


Transparency in the traditional ranks has scarcely existed for most the past century. It’s difficult, in fact, to name a business as opaque as journalism, the practitioners of which insist that others explain their actions but usually refuse to amplify on their own.

Scandal, for the most part, has forced open the doors to a degree. The Jayson Blair debacle at the New York Times led the newspaper to describe in lurid detail what had happened. It also led to the creation of a “public editor” post — also called ombudsman in other cases.

Bloggers, through their own relentless critiques, have made traditional-media transparency more common as well. However unfair bloggers’ criticism may often be, it has also been a valuable addition to the media-criticism sphere.

Bloggers, too, need to adopt more transparency. Some, to be sure, do reveal their biases. That gives readers a way to refract the writers’ world views against the postings, and then make decisions about credibility. But a distinctly unhappy trend in some blog circles is the undisclosed or poorly disclosed conflict of interest. Pay-per-post schemes are high on the list of activities that deserve readers’ condemnation — and, one hopes, less readership."





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15.5.08

[inanimate alice & media literacy]

While working on the second Education Pack to accompany Inanimate Alice and to coincide with the release of Episode 4 (yay!) I'm researching various countries and their (sometimes very different) approaches to the teaching of new media writing/digital literature/electronic literature/born digital fiction... (insert term of your choice). I've recently come across an interesting publication: "A European Approach to Media Literacy in the Digital Environment" created by the Commission of the European Communities published on the 20th of December 2007. The report reminds readers that although media use is widely acknowledged as a key enabler, there is little understanding of how "the media work in the digital world, who the new players in the media economy are and which new possibilities, and challenges, digital media consumption may present" (p.2)



This EU document also presents a very detailed definition of media literacy including the notion of critical literacy. Some aspects of the definition have tinges of transliteracy, encouraging the use of different kinds of media and their role in daily life:






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17.4.08

[blogging and literary analysis]




Via John Timmer at Ars Technica


"The rise of blogging clearly represents a significant social phenomenon, but studying it poses a challenge in part because defining a blog is not a simple thing. There have been a number of attempts to do so at the technical level, where the presence of material organized by time stamp or the existence of RSS feeds have been suggested as defining features. A group at the University of California-Irvine, however, decided to approach the question from the perspective of human-computer interactions, where the humans involved were blog readers. Mixing in a dose of literary theory provided some interesting insights into how readers view and define blogs.

The idea borrowed from HCI studies was a simple one: perform observations of actual users as they are interfacing with their computers. The observations took the forms of usage surveys, overseen reading sessions, individual discussions, and a single group discussion. Unfortunately, given the time-intensive nature of the work, the study population was small (20 subjects), and several of them did not participate in all aspects of the study. Attempts to log browsing habits didn't work out; the survey population was either savvy enough about privacy concerns to not install the logging software, or not savvy enough to manage a functional installation.

Still, the researchers were able to generate information about how readers interact with blog material. They argue that this can be as important as having information about the blogs themselves, citing the development of reader response theory in literary criticism. As applied to blogs, they state, "the reality and meaning of a blog exists neither solely in the blog itself nor solely in the reader, but rather in the reader’s active interpretation of, and interaction with, the blog."

What they found is that reading blogs has become a habit integrated into Internet use for many people, akin to instinctively checking e-mail. Several of the blog readers described it as simply a way to pass the time, using terms like "wasting time" and "doing nothing." One of them described it in terms of addiction: "I don’t really look forward to cigarettes anymore, but it's something that happens through the course of the day that I feel like I might need to do. It just becomes habit, I guess."

Given that attitude, a few of the other findings aren't much of a surprise. For one, the temporal structure of a blog is only important due to the role it plays in where stories appear on screen. People will tend to read the top ones first, and browse deeper only if they have time—if they don't, the deeper stories generally don't get read. A product of this is that few of the blog readers felt their habits contributed to a sense of information overload.

Despite this casual approach to content, blog readers take a number of aspects of the content very seriously. One example of this dichotomy is that a reader that can't be bothered to search for new blogs beyond the ones he currently reads, but still engages in offline activities based on what he's seen in the ones he does read.

One key feature for most users was a sense of community. Even though blogging is an inherently one-to-many activity, most readers felt a personal connection to the author. This could foster the feeling that the reader belonged to the community even in the absence of participation, and led those who did participate via comments to agonize over their content. Only one of the study participants said they enjoyed triggering flame wars; most of the others felt their comments were a form of appreciation for the blog author, and worked hard to make them insightful and cogent.

This produced a distinction between smaller blog communities and popular, news-focused blogs. These didn't produce the same sense of belonging, and readers tended to focus more on their content than their community. That result suggests that the blogging community will always have a long tail, as readers search for smaller places where they can continue to find a sense of connection with the authors.

The study's authors kindly provided Ars with a copy. It was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery's CHI Conference, and is available through their website."

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15.4.08

[blog portfolio]

I've been thinking about other ways to use blogs in the classroom - other than as a way of getting students to participate, answer/ask questions, review books/lectures etc... I've just seen Kim Middleton's idea for a blog portfolio:



"The portfolio should consist of three parts:

1) A numbered list of all of your blog posts, with titles and dates of the post.

2) a numbered list of all of your comments with the title of the post on which you commented, the name of the person’s blog to whom it was posted, and the date.

3) A short (5-7 page) reflective essay based on your posts and comments.

What kind of a reflective essay, you ask? Your reflective essay assignment is designed to surface and articulate what you’ve learned over the course of the semester by looking back on and analyzing your own writing during this time. Your essay should answer the question: how have I learned to situate myself as a reader/writer/English student/literary type (pick one or more of these) in the information age?

To answer this, your primary texts should be the writing that you’ve done over the course of the semester—I’m particularly interested in your posts and comments, but your drafts, your expertise projects, etc. are fair game. With the above question in mind, read back over your writing and locate particular sentences and passages that attest to your learning. In your paper, you’ll quote these and analyze them. In what ways do they show what and how your ideas have changed? What terms, concepts, and phrases provide evidence of the complex ways that your thinking has progressed and shifted over the course of the semester? How do they provide evidence that you can use to answer the questions above? Essentially, you’re going to close read your own writing for evidence of how you’ve come to terms with the ideas we’ve discussed in class. I’m looking for a deep engagement with your own writing here.

You may, of course, use the “I” voice in your paper—in fact, you must! Please provide an introduction that contains your main idea(s)—you should be able to make an argument about where you are now and how you got there, with reference to particular terms that you see yourself working with throughout the course of the semester. You may feel free to use a chronological approach (ex., “when I first started this class, I thought digital culture was ____. My first blog post contains this comment: “______.” Here, you can see the ways that I was dedicated to x idea. All I could associate with that x idea was___. In a blog post three weeks later, however, there is a marked shift in my language and tone. “______.”). You may also choose a different kind of structure if it makes sense to you (you could arrange it by theme: “these three quotes show the ways that my thinking changed about digital culture. These two show the ways that I am a writer that needs a number of drafts to shape a complicated argument”.)"


Jeremy Hiebert's model of an e-portfolio though over two years old will serve an a helpful visual model of what students will be working on:


Why create an e-portfolio? Well it helps students:

1. document the journeys of preservice teachers

2. promote or market preservice teachers for employment

3. guide them toward meeting the requirements of certification programs.

(see New Literacies)


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10.4.08

[critical and digital literacy]

via Thinking 2.0:


"Helping students take control of their own learning is one of the most important challenges facing teachers. The (inquiry or constructivist) approach is based on providing students with opportunities to formulate their own research and create “artifacts” or “products” that demonstrate their understanding and skill development. However, it often becomes glaringly obvious that “research” to many students involves taking the information from the first couple of web sites that appear from a google search, cobbling it together and “voila” - there it is. This is a long way from the goal of students as knowledge “producers”. Teaching students how to evaluate the reliability of information remains one of the most important literacy skills.
The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site is useful to show just how easily students can be manipulated by a professional “looking” web site.



AfterEd Video(Teachers’ College, Columbia University) discusses the importance of providing students with “educated guidance on how to use new media” and helps debunk the assumption that buying lots of computer hardware will meet students’ 21st century literacy needs.
Some key “critical literacy” questions it advocates include:How was this text contructed?What are its underlying values?What are the conventions it uses?Who is the intended audience?Who owns and who benefits from this?


Video via: Multiliteracies


This Department of Education Tasmania site also has activities and work samples "

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