Posts Tagged ‘multiliteracies’

Some thoughts on Web 2.0

September 27th, 2009 2 comments

With the technology and design of Web 2.0 users can actively participate and produce content instead of just passively viewing content to create a more effective means to share information.  Such interactions have changed the way we think of our online space and perhaps media in general both new and old.  In his article “What is Web 2.0?Tim O’Reilly founder of O’Reilly Media attempts to provide us with a working definition of the term itself.  He states in an earlier article “Not 2.0?” that some believe that the term Web 2.0 is simply a “marketing hype — bumper sticker is a better way to say it” and in some ways it is.  It is a buzzword like most memes, but it does point the viewer in the right direction.  To gain a better understanding of this somewhat misleading term O’Reilly provides us with some examples of the themes that have changed with the evolution of the web from 1.0 to 2.0 DoubleClick, Ofoto, Akama,, Britannica Online, personal websites, evite, domain name speculation, page views, screen scraping, publishing, content management systems, directories (taxonomy), and stickiness being Web 1.0.  (Some of these appear to have changed to embrace newer technologies this article was posted September 2005 which shows the increased effectiveness of Web 2.0) Google AdSense, Flickr IBitTorrent, Napster, Wikipedia, blogging, and EVDB, search engine optimization, cost per click, web services, participation, wikis, tagging (“folksonomy”), and syndication being Web 2.0.  O’Reilly explains that “Web 2.0 is the era when people have come to realize that it’s not the software that enables the web that matters so much as the services that are delivered over the web.”

Websites like Universe and We Feel Fine provide a whole new dialogue between users. We Feel Fine, by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, records when users type how they are feeling into their blogs to create a sort of map of human emotion.  We Feel Fine describes itself as “an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what’s on our blogs, what’s in our hearts, what’s in our minds.” Universe by Jonathan Harris allows you to track people, places, concepts, or anything else you can imagine.  Universe’s mission statement concludes that “In Universe, as in reality, everything is connected. No event happens in isolation. No company exists in a vacuum. No person lives alone. Whereas news is often presented as a series of unrelated static events, Universe strives to show the broader narrative that contains those events.”  The connections offered with both spaces are incredible.

In his lecture Michael Wesch a professor at Kansas State University mentions Youtube, and perhaps other social networks as well, as a means to “create connection without constrain.” Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, etc. allows users to share their identity, or the small slice of their identity that it is most effective for them to reach their goals at that moment.   Similarly danah boyd, Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, states, “What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks.” We can then use these new interactive services available with Web 2.0 to collaborate and interact with others to create meaningful conversation.

what if…

September 22nd, 2009 3 comments

… we took a digital camera and created a still life photo of technologies from the pencil all the way to an iphone (pencil, pen, newspaper, open paperback book, cell phone, computer keyboard, digital book, cell phones, iphones, ipods, etc.)? We could use that still life as the header of a the wordpress blog page to represent the technologies we are discussing.

Stuart’s Multiliteracies

September 19th, 2009 No comments

This book was written to help teachers of writing and communication develop full scale computer literacy programs that are both effective and professionally responsible.

Stuart Selber opens his book, Multiliteracies for a Digital Age, with the above introduction, letting us readers know that what he plans to address in the next 239 pages will be a comprehensive plan for teachers. This book is more or less a persuasive argument and you should enter it with that thought in mind.

Sliding gracefully across fourteen pages, Stuart then announces in a clarifying voice what the problems are in today’s (2004’s) teaching of computer technologies and literacies. Initially, his focus falls on how many schools with computer competency courses lack in one of three crucial literacy categories that he outlines throughout the book. These are functional literacy, critical literacy, and rhetorical literacy. Stuart presents the example of Florida State University’s computer science requirements, explaining that it “…promotes skills for working productively in practical terms, on the other hand, fails to offer the perspectives needed for making rhetorical judgements.”

Thus, Stuart defines what he claims:

Students who are not adequately exposed to all three literacy categories will find it difficult to participate fully and meaningfully in technological activities.

Stuart enters his chapter on functional literacy and identifies computers as tools. His list of competencies, that the ideal functionally literate student has, hold within them parameters Stuart finds important: ability to achieve educational goals, understands social conventions that determine computer use, makes use of associated discourses, effective management of online world, and confident resolution to technical impasses. These skills provide a sound foundation for functional literacy.(45) However, Stuart warns that the literacy hides the political leanings embedded in technologies, and while a functional literate student can manage himself effectively, such work is shortsighted and dangerously malleable without a critical understanding of technology. And so, he addresses that in his next chapter. (72)

It is the why and then the how that is stressed in this next chapter. Under the flag of critical literacy, Stuart encourages teachers to instill in their students a questioning, almost skeptical, frame of mind. He asks critically literate students to be aware of the dominating politics inherent in technology, to contextualize it, and to criticise the sculpting forces of culture and institutions. To achieve this, he prescribes metadiscourse heuristics. He quotes Michael Joyce as saying, “…technology, like any other unacknowledged representation of power, endangers learning.”(133) To counter, students and teachers need to be able to recognize the ebb and flow of power, and need to be able to act accordingly.

This action, as Stuart puts it, is reflective production, constitutes the majority of his definition of rhetorical literacy. Within this literacy, he visualizes computers as hypertextual media, digitized text engaged in the mass dissemination of information. Viewing these hypertexts as form of rhetoric, students can engage in discourse with them, much like conventional conversation. This is largely done at the interface, where the user and the technology meet, where the user asserts control. Stuart idealizes rhetorically literate students as being able to negotiate the persuasive techniques of the producers, and to be able to become producers themselves. (160)

Stuart sums up his beliefs on page 179, 58 pages from the end, by saying:

The more associations that individuals can form between old and new knowledge, the better their understanding of that new knowledge is likely to be.

While the phrase can be applied in many way to many subjects, we can tweak it ourselves by replacing “knowledge” with “technology”. Proceeding, he explains his suggested pedagogical procedures in matters of layered contexts, enabling the students to heuristically climb to higher and broader levels of understanding. Or rather, he says what he thinks is a good way to help students learn about technology and learn from technology. And although rather broad and idealistic, we, as students, can already see his changes in our education. It’d be a wonder to see if they’re being applied to the younger generations.

Stuart Selber “Multiliteracies for a Digital Age”

September 18th, 2009 No comments

College professors are the expected audience for Selber’s book. He says, “This book was written to help teachers of writing and communication develop full-scale computer literacy programs that are both effective and professionally responsible.” (Selber, 2004, p. xi) Selber goes on to say that, “…too few teachers today are prepared to organize learning environments that integrate technology meaningfully and appropriately.” (p. 1) As we discussed in class, Selber also sees some resistance on the part of professors to learn and utilize technology.

Selber indicates that students are more apt to be prepared for the world of digital media than some professors are. He states, “…students will undoubtedly know a great deal.” (Selber, 2004, p. 19) He goes on to give students credit for a certain knowledge base with regard to computer programs and usage. Selber states, “In many instances, students will actually know more than their teachers about operating computers…” (p. 19) He also says the following, which I have found to be true to my own experience: “In academic settings, students tend to learn about computers on their own, with the help of their peers…” (Selber, 2004, p. 30) Further still, I see computers in the classrooms in elementary and secondary schools are playing a large role. My children are comfortable with any computer situation or program and are not fearful of the new technologies as they develop – a situation that is not all that common with older students and professors.

Selber concludes that his mission is to “…help teachers envision a full-fledged program that integrates and emphasizes functional literacy, critical literacy, and rhetorical literacy … even if some departments are rather fearful of technology.” (p. 183-184) Perhaps, if we raise the bar for muliliteracies, then our colleges and universities will become more literate in this growing and evolving computer age.