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Summary – Many Lenses: An Introduction (Mark Pegrum)

January 13, 2010

Pegrum starts by using an example of textspeak from a student and then unveils the many issues attached to it to then introduce the many “lenses”. These “lenses” are being presented as a means to fully review and then understand technology and its impact on us – both as a society and as individuals.

These five lenses are

technological lens
pedagogical lens
social lens
socio-political lens
ecological lens

– technological lense

This “view” focuses on reviewing the affordances (costs / benefits) attached to a given piece of technology. What can be done with it? For example, the student using “texting” (coded text) in their SMS message AND their essay. If we examine the rationale and purpose for using Text – SMS – we discover that it is attractive because it is a cost effective (shortened words = shorter message = lower cost) and time effective (saves time using symbols rather than full words) way to communicate with others.

– pedagogical lens
This “view” focuses on reviewing the impact of technology on teaching and education. How technology exposes the “effectiveness” or “ineffectiveness” of teaching pedagogy / methods. Identification of what is now important to learn – content vs process. If we examine the student and their “texting” we see problems with assessing the “written word”. What has been learned? Grammar and sentence structure exists, but the use of symbols to realize phonetics communicates to some but not to all. What now needs to be learned? Context of communications .. now becomes an important focus – before only correctly spelled words were the norm. New competing “norm” emerging.. but for what context? Disagreements amongst educators about how literacy should be defined and taught.

– social lens
This “view” focuses on the “social context” of technology. Here it looks at how technology is used to help “build identity” – a digital identity in many societies around the world. How technology appears to promote individual freedom and expression – perhaps at the cost of social standards. In the case of the “texting” example, there was a great deal of media attention paid to the story. Why? Perhaps because language standards have long been associated witih moral standards. Texting threatens that paradigm – for some permitting “texting” is to permit a decline in “moral standards”. New questions emerge. What was the student’s rationale for using it? Is it simply because it’s efficient in cost and time .. or is it a linguistic rebellion on the part of a teen? Social questions.

– socio-political level lens
This “view” focuses on how technology impacts the socio-political stage. How does digital technology impact on “stratifying” groups in society? For example, those who can afford to use technology versus those who can’t.. how are they impacted, categorized or even disenfranchised by society? How has technology aided or abated political positions.. changed political processes .. changed the political landscape? The digital divide is as much a literacy issue as it is an economic issue. There is a good side to using tech – to realize social change… but there is a dark side of using tech too. ( realize terrorist cells / activities .. before individuals with extremist views were isolated but now they can find support online from others of similar persuasion to create active vibrant virtual communities. How does mainstream society deal with this sort of challenge? Is it possible to see “texting” by a student as subversive? When is it and when is it not?

– ecological lens
This “view” focuses on how technology presents us with new physical and mental challenges. We realize the importance of being connected online and there is almost no likelihood of returning to days without digital technology but how much is too much? What impact does it have on our well being? What is an appropriate integration of technology into a society’s and individual’s lives? Internet addiction clinics signal imbalances. Are unhealthy lifestyles being reinforced by technology? Overloaded minds, neglected bodies

Key quotes for me.

???You look at technology as a tool. We look at technology as a foundation – it???s totally
integrated into what we do???
student of Marc Prensky

When teaching through digital technologies,educators have a responsibility to help students explore the power of these new tools to craft individual and communal stories, but also to help them perceive and compensate for their limitations and dangers.
Pegrum, M. (n.d.)- p 12

When teaching about digital technologies, educators have a responsibility to help students appraise the new tools through technological, pedagogical, social, sociopolitical and ecological lenses.
Pegrum, M. (n.d.)- p 12


A good read. Causes me to focus my attention on the ripple effect of technology
much like looking at any other ubiquitous tool in today’s society (i.e. the car – purpose served, tradeoffs, how it has evolved, may evolve, what it communicates about our values & beliefs). Essentially, Pegum offers a holistic view of digital technologies in general with the aim of promoting a more heuristic approach in our use of them.


Pegrum, M. (2007, May 31). Future hype. e-language. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from

Pegrum, M. (2010, January). Mark Pegrum – Introduction to Multiliteracies. goodbyegutenberg. pbwiki, . Retrieved January 12, 2010, from

Pegrum, M. (n.d.). Many Lenses: An Introduction. In From Blogs to Bombs. Retrieved from…


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  1. Paula permalink

    Great summary Jim. Thanks a lot for sharing it. We will all find it very useful.

  2. Maria Bossa permalink

    You couldn’t have summerized it in a much better way!! Thumbs up, congrats! šŸ™‚

  3. Nina Liakos permalink

    Yes, thanks for this succinct retelling.

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