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Saturday, September 16, 2017

21st Century Literacies 

I'm just putting the finishing touches to a co-authored book on literacy and digital media for Sage with Cathy Burnett. It's been an exciting project and one that brings recent work into dialogue with some older material. Nine years ago I wrote a similar book with Julia Davies, called Web 2.0 for Schools and I've been reflecting on the shifts in my thinking. Of course, it's partly the case that different collaborators enrich your thinking in different ways, but it's also inevitably the case that other changes occur with the passage of time. The shift from unbridled enthusiasm to a rather cautious, perhaps more critical stance to new media is clearly apparent to me, although it may not be so clear to readers - we'll see about that. Changes in digital technology itself are one cause of this, but actually that's mostly about ubiquity and the notable distribution and take up of mobile devices and apps. The more significant thing for me is what digital communication - and social media in particular, has become. Rather like Matt Haig, I think there are good reasons for taking a wider and more critical view.  I still think its crucially important for teachers to look at what literacy in everyday looks like and to adjust their own practices so that they are in step with this. And its equally important for policymakers to remove the obstacles that prevent this. But, promoting practices that help children and young people to navigate new literacies in ways that are ethical and empowering seems to be crucially important. It's actually untrue to say that was absent from Web 2.0 for Schools - it certainly wasn't - but it seems a more pressing agenda now. The current book attempts to emphasise this by exploring the nine principles of the Charter for 21st Century Literacies that we developed in New Literacies around the Globe and are shown at the end of this document. 

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Saturday, September 02, 2017

Event, eventually 

Trying to think differently about literacy, emergence and potentiality (amongst other things) has led to some experimentation with the concept of literacy-as-event. Here we've been drawing on the work of Massumi who writes 'Nothing is prefigured in the event. It is the collapse of structured distinction into intensity or rules into paradox.' (2015: 27). In taking this route we've stumbled rather blindly into some quite contradictory conceptions of event. Anthropological perspectives have traditionally focused on ritual events or public performances that play an important role in socio-cultural life. For example, if you take a qualification in Event Management, this, I assume, is what you end up dealing with - logistics, planning, organisation, health and safety, customer satisfaction and so on. In other words what you need to have in place to make a wedding, a concert, a carnival or a festival run smoothly. It would be based on an understanding of the predictability of events. In contrast, for someone like Derrida, event was about 'surprise, exposure, the unanticipatable' (2007:441). Events, in this view, are marked by unpredictability. An extreme form of this occurs in Badiou (2005) in which event is about rupture - Paris 1968; the Arab Spring; London 2011 - situations in which new identities and discourses suddenly become possible. But is there a smaller scale version of this, in which we can keep hold of unpredictability, possibility and intensity in a moment-by-moment unfolding of event - this is what we're working with.

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