Tag Archives: New Literacies

Education Remix: New Media, Literacies, and the Emerging Digital Geographies

By Sara Evans, Jessica Gilbert Redman, Joanne Rumig, & Marcia Seaton-Martin

Link to article: http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dce1034_vasudevan_2010.pdf

Article Synopsis & Core Research Questions

Vasudevan (2010) explores the way in which emerging digital geographies are making a difference in the way our youth population are being educated today, whether in the classroom or outside the school, as well as how technology is changing the way in which they communicate with their peers and teachers. Her research focus is to examine the types of digital spaces that youth are participating in and how they can be incorporated into current education practices. YouTube, Flickr, and other digital literacies such as cell phones, mp3 players, social networking sites, and virtual worlds have all contributed to this movement where students are engaged in the learning process both online and in the classroom. This affects the instruction models and assessment tools already in place.

In this particular article Vasudevan examines the social media practices and the technologies used by two youths, Joey and EJ, that are currently involved in an alternative to incarceration program (ATIP). Using portable technologies, Joey and EJ explored digital geographies in various workshops and improved writing skills using various digital spaces. In both examples the relationships between literacies and modalities are highlighted, and how their experiences will shape curriculum design in youth education.

Methods Used

The primary methods employed are case study examples from Joey and EJ in the ATIP workshops. Both completed different creative projects in different cycles of the program. Joey’s project was a part of a digital media workshop, where students were asked to create “movies,” and EJ’s project was a part of a larger program called The Insight Theatre Project, where students were asked to co-write scripts which were performed by other participants. The researchers used ethnography styled approaches to examine the processes of the either student in creating their projects, though these approaches were complicated by the students immersion in virtual spaces where the researcher could not necessarily situate themselves.The focus, however, was examining how either project highlighted the digital literacy and level of media engagement of the student, and how either changed throughout the course and with the addition of more virtual spaces for the students to occupy.

Findings & Conclusions

As a result of the digital medial workshop, Joey was able to use a digital camera not only as a tool but as a space to show the layered geography of his life. He used his PSP as a tool to transfer files from the camera to his online profile, while gaining new skills of customizing backgrounds and uploading music and multimedia poems. Through the use of ProTools, Joey was able to create beats for his multimedia narrative and later create a collection of beats for other multimodal compositions. He got a renewed sense of exploring his personal history with the PSP and the digital camera.

EJ began to navigate new spaces, starting with writing blogs, which helped him develop more of an appreciation for multiple audiences. With the blogging and observations he made, he started to identify himself not only as an intern but also as an ethnographer. As his composing evolved, his digital geographies began to include Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. By accessing many digital composing spaces, EJ was able to participate in new communities, be recognized for new identities, and gain new audiences.

“By paying attention to digital geographies, particularly the navigation across digital spaces and orchestration of multiple modalities, educators can cultivate youth’ literacies while at the same time inspire new sites of education” (Vasudevan, 2010, p. 79).

Further Research Opportunities & Unanswered Questions

Given the few student examples we see, it would be interesting to see how students use the digital landscape on a wider basis. One student uses technology in interesting and unusual ways, but how common is this “thinking outside the box”? What percentage of students get to know their technology this well, so they are able to think up new ways to use the technology? It would be helpful to know what students are using and to what point they are being creative with technology.

We often see students who are so-called digital natives who do not have what many consider basic digital skills (e.g., being able to enter a web address in the address bar of a browser instead of using Google to find the site and then clicking on it from the search results). Based on these observations, how many students are actively and eagerly participating in furthering their technological skills and knowledge beyond what is required for basic interpersonal communication (texting, Facebook, etc.)? By this, what we really want to know is if the Joeys and the EJs of the student world are outliers or if they are the norm. How much technological inquisitiveness can we expect from the average student? Are they willing (and/or able) to go above and beyond the normal requirements of a task or project to learn new skills or to bring together disparate skills in order to create something new?

Is it logical to believe that schools should have such varied types of technology (such as gaming systems or different types of computer OSes) available to students, just in case they might be able to use it creatively? Beyond that, do budgets allow for this possibility?

With schools fighting the influx of technology by often passing “screens down” or “phone basket” (where students put their phones in a basket upon entering a classroom to avoid the temptation of looking at it throughout class) regulations school-wide, where is the happy medium to make sure students are using technology effectively but not tuning out during the school day?

Vasudevan, L. (2010). Education remix: New media, literacies, and the emerging digital geographies. Digital Culture & Education, 2(1). Retrieved from http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com

Digital Curation and Education

By Carla Axume, Adrienne Domasin, Mia Faulk, Kai Forsley, and Heather Poundstone

Link to article: http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dce1028_black_2010.pdf

Digital Curation and Education
Black, R. (2010) The language of Webkinz: Early childhood literacy in an online virtual world. University of California, Irvine. Online Publication 31 May 2010.

A- Article synopsis and core research question(s)- Adrienne
In this article the author intends to fill a gap in the research on virtual worlds intended for early childhood populations. Using the popular and frequently visited virtual space Webkinz World as a case study, Rebecca Black analyzes the content in the Webkinz World in an effort to determine the viability of the content as it pertains to language development and childhood literacy, as well as whether the content is appropriate for the learning processes among the intended age groups. Black concluded that the design of Webkinz World is limited in its learning outcomes and literacy learning initiatives due to its profit-driven nature and Internet security safeguards both of which inhibit language development. Black also indicates that the socio-cultural messages promoted within the Webkinz World necessitate a thorough examination because the life lessons promoted in the interface do not engage the daily learning and development of children in a realistic manner. Black seeks to demonstrate the shortcomings of the Webkinz World site in order to inform parents of children interacting in this virtual world of the literacies that are actually being used versus those that are marketed by Webkinz World. The author also seeks to inform educators and literacy researchers of any attitudinal shifts from children interacting in these virtual spaces and their learning behavior in the classroom environment.

B- Methods used to answer research question(s)-Carla
The method employed in this case study approach is based on data gathered from participant observations and a qualitative content analysis. Part of this analysis also deals with a cross case analysis of the literacy and developmental features of several Shared Virtual Environments focusing on early childhood populations. Black was able to gather data by creating a map of the site content and gathering information from the rules, frequently asked questions, tutorials, activities, and the collection of artifacts. From this point, the content analysis was conducted using open ended, qualitative protocol, and literacy related artifacts of the site. The participant observations were aimed at gaining a sense of navigation, communication, and gameplay in the Shared Virtual Environment. Part of the analysis included a game called Webkinz, which are stuffed animals that come with a unique code in order for the player to have access to Webkinz world in the SVE. Here children are able to participate by purchasing items to furnish their pets room, food, toys and clothes. Overall, the online multimodal format of the site provides children with access to new literacy providing language development, social meanings, values and life lessons.

C- Findings and conclusions- Kai
With any new type of literacy, there will be learning curves. Within Shared Virtual Environments (SVE), there are many opportunities to engage the spatial abilities of visitors to the site. Rebecca Black praises the prospect of SVEs being useful communication tools. Specifically looking at online platforms, like Webkinz World, there are some concerns. First, there are benefits including gaining hands-on computer technology experiences in terms of learning how to navigate an online environment and navigating the computer’s hard and software. However the content and interactions with the content seems to be of concern. There are blatant consumerist practices and direct marketing to youth. The term “immersive advertising” is used to describe the constant bombardment of advertising mechanisms to the user. Within Webkinz World, there seems to be a specified correlation between well-being in the virtual world and actual financial expenditures, which Black believes does not activate the best use of a literacy tool effectively. Black seems to conclude that while many positive attributes can be extracted from the model of SVEs like Webkinz World, the overall execution of this one may not be in the best interest of the user. The positives include direct learning in terms grammar, reading and as well as other traditional literacies, as well as contextualized learning that happens as you traverse the scenarios in the game. Nevertheless, Black believes that corporate develops, not educators, are creating content for SVE tools such as Webkinz. This divergence between “useful tool” and “tainted content” seems to be apparent in Webkinz World. She also concludes that the digital literacies employed within SVEs should be actual digital literacies and not simply traditional literacies captured in digital format, thus providing the user with an optimal learning experience.

D-Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address-Mia
More research is needed on, “…how children’s activities, relationships, and immediate social and cultural contexts affect their learning and development” (Black, 8). Today’s young students are operating in a cyberspatial-postindustrial mindset, so:
What will these students need most to be successful within these spaces?
How do adults set about understanding the “social and cultural contexts of these spaces, as well as the tensions between new and traditional literacies as they shape, influence, and even curtail children’s learning” (Black, 9)?
Are these commercialized spaces, with marketing messages, detrimental to kids?
Have we entered a dimension of A Brave New World where children are being conditioned to think within prescribed limits?
Is this a coercive quasi dictatorship, telling kids what they should think vs. allowing them to create and think freely? “While there are ample opportunities for early readers and writers to be immersed in contextualized print, there are far fewer opportunities for early readers and writers to engage deeply with literacy materials and develop expressive language skills” (Black, 14).
Future research should address how to create the best online learning environment for young children that is much more robust, interactive, and engaging, rather than reverting to traditional literacy methods.

E- A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions- Heather
Students will need several things to be able to successfully navigate sites such as Webkinz, the most important being literacy and technology skills. Online tutorials would be helpful to guide students through the various components of the site. Adults must understand the importance of new literacies and their importance in children’s literacy development. They must engage in sites like Webkinz in order to understand how to support students. Sites like Webkinz should exercise caution with the marketing messages they allow so that children are protected. For instance, advertisements that promote junk food should not be allowed. There should be a minimum amount of marketing for the children who have already purchased the stuffed animal. There could be an option to allow children access to the site without purchasing the animal. Webkinz does somewhat condition children to think within prescribed limits due to the safety measures in place that do not allow students to creatively add their own dialogue. This site could expand on its creative aspect by allowing students to create their own animals, attributes, stories, videos, etc. in order to allow them to think and explore freely.

Tags- Webkinz, childhood literacy, virtual worlds, literacy, early childhood, language development, children, social network, learn, play, digital literacy, new literacies, Webkinz World, Shared virtual environments, SVE, SVEs, direct instruction, online gaming, consumerism, digital learning, internet safety, child development

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues?. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Jamie Carter
Eric Cardoso
Ton Vo Ngo
Elyssa Gooding

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues?. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.



In the article, Eveline Houtman explored alternative frameworks which could be use in the library community. In the past few years, the transliteracy framework was promoted within the LIS field. Sue Thomas coined the term. Transliteracy was discussed in journal articles, librarian blogs and among professionals. It was “the ability to read, write, and interact across range of platforms, tools and media” (3). She believed LIS professionals should consider other possible frameworks in their discussion of new digital literacies. She examined variety of frameworks such as new literacies, multimodality and multiliteracies.

With social media being prominent in today’s society, Houtman also references the idea of utilizing the concept in libraries to help illustrate transliteracy. Librarians want to see if students can go beyond the simple definition of literacy that of which is to read and write, but to see if they can think cognitively. For example, librarians have used facebook as a way to search trending articles comparing some of the functions to database searching. The idea of truncations and quotation marks are used in the keyword search to explore the results given. This concept is used to see if students can follow directions and use their creativity in research for specific subjects. Also, this allows to tie in the idea of research with something that interests them which will, in turn, get them to want to learn.

Core Research Questions:

Some of the core questions being asked in this article that have generated research for this article and because of it include establishing a definition for “literacy.” In so doing, it is easy to fall back on the established understanding of literacy as the ability to read and write, however, following that conclusion of basic communication skills to its logical conclusion it is easy and necessary to push the term literacy or literate to other areas, e.g. computer-literate, social literacy, cultural literacy, business literacy (may also be called business savvy) and other literacies for seemingly every aspect of life.
Another question that seeks a definition is what is, “Transliteracy?” The originator of the term, Sue Thomas, and her team offer the notion that it is, “the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and films, to digital social networks.” Thomas and her team have even expanded and attempted to explain that definition as have others. The key to understanding what is meant by the term seems to lie in its Latin root, “trans” meaning across, covering several areas or even an expanse of time. In this case covering a range of literacies. The definition of transliteracy seems to be still under consideration.
This leads to another question that researchers might well ask, “Is transliteracy a settled concept?” The answer seems to be no since the definition is still fluctuating. Some people feel that it is, while others feel it is simply a fleeting buzzword and momentary notion.
Further research questions include the following, “Are there other frameworks emerging alongside transliteracy that seek to understand and incorporate new digital media?”

Findings and Conclusions:
At the end of the article, Houtman concluded transliteracy like any other learning theory can be deictic. The meaning of the definition and concept can evolve over time. The framework was originally introduced to the library community in 2007 (p. 9). She pondered how much transliteracy has really changed over the years. Houtman questioned whether LIS professionals should continue adopting transliteracy if it is not recognized in other fields. She considered turning to other learning frameworks. It remained an unresolved issue.

She brought up new issues about the future role of librarians and information professionals in digital literacy. She expressed concerns that other fields ignore the value of libraries in society. They represent important institutions that facilitate long life learning in the community. Librarians should be active participants and contributors in constructing new forms of literacies. They are one of the stakeholders along with educators, policymakers and other groups. With emergence of new internet and computer technology, librarians will remain relevant in the digital age. Even though, millennials are digitally literate compared to previous generations, they have not fully developed the skills and knowledge to search for accurate information. Librarians have opportunities to educate current and future generations how to effectively search, access and evaluate information. New forms of technology will lead to new information seeking behaviors and search strategies.

Unanswered Questions:

Transliteracy is a difficult concept to grasp because there are many theories being pulled from a variety of frameworks that makes librarians wonder what is the better solution in utilizing the idea. Houtman, in the article, makes a valid point about the idea being too narrow, yet too broad and is trying to find a solution in balancing the equation. She states, “Too broad because it tries to encompass every aspect of human communication past, present, and future. Too narrow because it fails to take into account issues of importance to the library world, such as pedagogy and digital inclusion.” To explain this further, librarians want to use library resources that are useful and current to the today’s generation without overwhelming students with too many key point and concepts. Moreover, librarians want to simply see if students can think cognitively by navigating through a research database independently. Many questions arise on how to accomplish this fluidly, but also so that it will appeal to ESL learners.