Chapters 11 & 12 HALR

So, ack.  I had plans for integrating all of the reading for this week and picking out a few things that were connected and discussing them properly.  You know, actually blogging in a coherent way.  Then, stomach flu.  That’s all I’m saying about that.  Now I’m in catch-up mode. Next week will be different!

Chapter 11: Digital Literacies in the Classroom

Joan A. Rhodes

Valerie J. Robnolt

“This chapter provides instructional approaches and research that address the increasing need for students to read critically, access information efficiently, and overcome the negative impact of the digital divide.” This sentence is from the summary/abstract at the start of the chapter and I am already interested in a description of this “digital divide”.

Okay, so the digital divide refers to the data showing that those students living in poverty or in homes where parents don’t have any higher education are less likely to use the internet outside of school. It’s an accessibility divide, but perhaps also a cultural divide…where what is not needed is not valued? Something to consider, especially when some of these areas are urban, where one would assume access is freer due to public transportation and public libraries.

 The more I learn about this idea of digital literacy, the more I am seeing the recent shift to digital media for the paradigm change it really is. I never thought of it in terms of how revolutionary the printing press was, perhaps because I grew up during the shift, so it is both more present, and more gradual for me. I’ve maintained the idea in my head that “traditional text” is somehow superior to anything that exists digitally, perhaps due to so many cautionary tales of being careful with the sources you find on the web, and because of phenomena like Wikipedia not being taken seriously–I point to the fact that many in academia do not deem it an acceptable source to quote from. That aside, one cannot help but notice the myriad of changes going on in our world due to the emergence of digital communication. From personal contact, to how news gets delivered, to the structuring of revolutions, digital media have advanced our zeitgeist farther and faster than the technologies that carry them. As this chapter states, researchers have to deal with “technology applications that become obsolete before the research results are even published”. This brings up even more questions about the location of academic research. Can’t they just publish online? How does that work with copyrighted materials? How do all of these changes affect the discourses?

 It’s intriguing to consider how the upswing in speed and the visuals available with images and video are changing the very nature of our communication…in some ways bringing it full circle to a more orally-oriented framework of communication. More dynamic than that is the interactive nature of the communication.

 “Digital equity should be considered, first, in terms of student access to technology and, second, in terms of student use of technology for educational purposes.”

 Literacy is defined (155) as the ability to read and write and a mindset about the use of reading and writing in daily life. Hmm. “Currently, the term literacy implies that individual competence interacts with the social demands of the culture.” <–A view much increased in flexibility from that of the former. This new way of examining literacy, along with the act of examining it, open up the door to almost anything having a level of skill/knowledge where one could be considered “literate”. What does that mean? All literacies are not created equal, I am thinking. I am quite literate in sippy cups, for instance, but I don’t list that on my resume. On the other hand, it’s a highly useful bit of information for new parents in my line of work, and specialized knowledge of that sort has been incredibly helpful to many of my clients throughout the years.

 Obviously one of the challenges in defining multiple digital literacies, is the veritable speed at which technology and the tools for using it are changing and advancing. I am a bit curious as to why all the focus on the link-clicking while reading text online…is this really a huge deal for some reason, outside the usual complaint of it being distracting (but possibly beneficial for stumbling across gems)?

 “Multiliteracy implies that meaning making occurs in multimodal settings where written information is part of spatial, audio, and visual patterns of meaning.”

 The New London Group’s assertion about what students’ two literacy learning goals are is…something: “creating access to the evolving language of work, power, and community, and fostering the critical engagement necessary for them to design their social futures and achieve success through fulfilling employment”. In other words, they’ve done their job when you are a good little sheep with a proper job making money that can be extorted by political means you can be convinced into accepting through your newfound literacies. That’s just one interpretation, of course.

 This definition of media literacy (from 1992..?) that states it is “the ability of a citizen to access, analyze, and produce information for specific outcomes” [emphasis mine] is, well, odd. It suggests that media literacy is related to knowledge in journalism and also…public relations. I mean, we are always “producing information for specific outcomes”. My daughter tells me she’s brushed her teeth when it’s time for bed so I won’t be irritated, but as soon as she wants something to eat, is just as quick to say, “I haven’t brushed my teeth yet, so I can!”. I call this manipulation and I don’t appreciate it any more than the general public likes being lied to about war. I get the access and analyze part, I suppose it was the whole “produce information” thing that got me thinking. Really, I suppose it does boil down to knowing how the system works, so you can be the most critical consumer of that produced information.

 digital literacy – “21st century literacy is the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual, and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms”

 “Literacy for this century implies that students are able to create and interpret meaning within multimodal, digital environments.” They throw those together, create and interpret. I stopped here to think about that. To interpret is one thing, and getting students to do that is going to eat up a chunk of time, to say the least. But to create? I would imagine this gets easier as both teachers and students become more tech-savvy. I see a clearer digital divide in some ways between the technologically-savvy and the less technologically proficient that is of more consequence. It is assumed, at least at the level of the college or university, that students have some knowledge of technology. This is reasonable, but to what extent? There are a range of background experiences that comprise any student body, and it’s not really fair or reasonable to expect a standard of all of them without more in the way of preliminary instruction. Many of these tools are hard! Only one class in computers is required to graduate from EMU.

 “Advances in computer technology and the rise in the outsourcing of jobs that use basic computing skills will require American students to be able to think across disciplines and creatively solve problems in order to maintain economic viability.” (160)

 “Educators and students alike ‘must abandon conceptual systems founded upon ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity and replace them with ones of multilinearity, nodes, links,and networks.'” (161)

 The above two quotes strike me negatively in the sense that I object to the idea that we have to force skills on an unwilling and perhaps even incapable populace because we refuse to value labor enough for it to provide a basic living. Surely we can do all sorts of tasks in our own country. Including those that mostly rely on the left side of the brain.

 The last part of the chapter dealt with how if you are reading/researching on the computer, the most productive thing to do is to use it to write. Also talks about the importance of connecting out-of-school literacy activities to in-school literacies.

 Research notes: -how the changing nature of information technology has altered the way our brains process information (if such a thing occurs). -how the changing nature of news delivery actually has more youth that are informed and engaged with current events through their use of new technologies?

What the heck do they mean by hypertext/hypermedia…must look this up.

Usual word list:

deictic – a word specifying identity or spatial or temporal location from the perspective of a speaker or hearer in the context in which the communication occurs

digital natives – the youth who have grown up in a digital era

Chapter 12: The Secondary English Curriculum and Adolescent Literacy

Robert Burroughs

Peter Smagorinsky

texts- composed artifacts of symbolic systems or configurations of signs

 The notion of curriculum being what is learned is explored, with the curriculum being planned, enacted, and received (these being three separate events).

the hidden curriculum – refers to the social agenda that motivates the explicit instruction in a school.

“A hidden curriculum may contribute to social stratification by shepherding students towards futures based on their parents’ occupations and income by the ways in which the curriculum structures their experiences in school.”

the null curriculum – the content and means of engagement that are not taught in school. It is where the big ideas and the means of discussing them lie, because the explicit curriculum has reduced ideas to their component parts.

What’s interesting about this section is the example they use. They talk about the history of Western progress as an oversimplification, an understatement to be sure, but hardly an example of “atomistic particles” knowledge. It would seem that taking multiple portrayals of specific events in conjunction with larger themes and attitudes could be conducive to a productive level of discussion.

 substantive structure – the conceptual structure of a discipline (including organization, concepts, propositions, principles, axioms, and the relations among them).

syntactic structure – ways of knowing that are afforded by a discipline (methods of discovery, criteria for data measurement, the path of data through interpretation to conclusion). It’s methodology.

 paradigms – the entire constellation of beliefs, values, and techniques shared by a given community.
“The ultimate outlook that motivates these decisions is situated in some paradigmatic way of thinking about the discipline: as the embodiment of Western heritage, as a vehicle for inquiring into development of a more just society, as a means for students’ personal growth, as a structure for taking on the perspectives of multiple cultures, or as one of many other lenses available to teachers.” (174)

 “Genres take specific forms–but the form is an embodiment of a way of thinking and being in the world, rather than an end in itself.” “genres persist and develop because they provide responses to recurring social exigencies”

 “members of scholarly disciplines must understand and be fluent with the paradigmatic practices necessary for being taken seriously by their peers, particularly those practices associated with the expectations for discourse.” (<–this right here is why it’s so hard to break conventions)

 Applebee notes that curriculum becomes, “specialized content, ignoring the discourse conventions that govern participation” when texts are selected and presented in chronological order with no examination of the connections between them or reasoning for why they were chosen. (177)

 “the null curriculum removes from students’ school experiences any attention to the issues that face them most dramatically in their own lives” (178)

“A curricula…suggests to students a worldview that is implied or explicitly taught through the texts, activities, sequences, and other dimensions of learning that are included (and excluded).” I think that last part is perhaps the most critical, considering how the canon hasn’t much changed, and it is difficult for teachers to stray from the status quo of methods or materials.

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