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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Digital literacies pizza slice 

In preparing the open textbook for DefT we want to avoid getting mired in the seemingly endless debate over definitions of digital literacies (see here for example). So the pizza model shown in draft form is just an explanatory model for the ways in which digital literacies has been operationalised by project participants. Partly because of the concentration of literacy folk on the project team, there is some sort of desire to hold on to a view of literacy practices to describe those social interactions and negotiations of meaning that occur with, in and around semiotic systems. In the central region, what is referred to as core is the most conservative rendering of this - that is practices that depend upon alphabetic representation. So that is intended to include not only basic decoding and encoding, but also the whole range of communicative practices, sense-making, textuality etc whether this is on screen, paper-based or both. Although it is core, we are not, of course, privileging it in any way, merely indicating that is the most simple definition. The second ring acknowledges the way in which practices - and particularly, but not exclusively, screen-based ones - are increasingly seen as being multi-modal. This constitutes an expanded view of literacies. Ever since David Barton drew our attention to metaphorical uses of the word literacy we have had a useful way to describe terminology like 'emotional literacy', political literacy, 'scientific literacy' and so on. This sort of language is generally used as a metaphor to describe a sort of competence - and it's clear that's how some people see digital literacy and that's what's represented in the outer ring. So in the light of these ways of thinking about the way the word literacy is used (core, extended and expanded) we are able to conceive of digitally-mediated practices as literacies in different ways. When related to the case studies in our project work we can then see that teachers located their work in one or another of the concentric rings. However, in so doing their activities nearly always included stuff in the other rings (as well as work outside of the slice).

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