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Week 1: Developing a staring point

January 14, 2010

Well, this is my first blog post for this ‘session’. Here are some of my reflections on the different aspects on this weeks materials, the session itself and other little tidbits.

The Session:
I love the idea of the course itself. I think it is an extremely important in the lives of all of us in the teaching field, no matter what the context, to wrestle with this conceptual beheomoth. As I’m sure we will all discover this is a ‘Gordian Knot’ of a topic. So, I guess we will start to unravel it week by week,

I’m still making heads-and-tails of the session itself. How will it operate? The use of multiple platforms is very agitating to me. They all seem a little redundant and that this might make across the board participation almost impossible. I wonder how the ‘conversation’ will be able to ‘breach’ across the different platforms. I do hope that this doesn’t reduce the session into insular groups based on platform preference (ie Ning, Groups, Twitter etc…) But, I am optimistic and excited for this session.

Determining a starting point:

I really can’t think of any other way to begin a six-week session on the topic of multiliteracies than to establish a base line. A starting point. If only for personal memory. So here it goes.

Working definition of literacy:

Literacy is the ability to use technology to create, transmit and re-create messages to other members of a group, who also share this ability. Literacy is linked to identity and membership with a social/cultural group. This group is comprised of members who share the ability defined above.

Some basic tenants about literacy

Literacy is a social construct created inside of groups. What is considered literate has to do with groups ideological views of the group.

Literacies, like discources are inherently ideological. They are based on deep-seated beliefs, values and hierarchies of importancy

Literacy is a ‘culture of performance’ vis-a-vis technology, to create communications across members in a group (of others who are ‘literate’)

There are multiple ways to use technology to create/ distribute messages across a members in a ‘literacy-group’. From lines in clay tablets, to spray paint on a wall, to a chat message encoded with acronyms and emoticons.

Because there are many ways to interact with text, there are many literacies.

Literacies are associated with groups.

Because social groups/cultures are not viewed as equal, discources and literacies are also not seen as equal

Those literacies associated with the dominant social/cultural group are considered superior than those associated with the subordinate or dominated social groups.

People can occupy, and own multiple memberships to groups, multiple discources and multiple literacies.

Literacies are contingent to audience and social context. Not all literacies are relevant and/or useful in all situations.

Literacies are inherently political and always need to be seen in the context of ‘power-relations’ and ideological subordination /dominance because the ‘owning’ of a literacy gives you access to communication and meaning-making with other members of a literacy group.

Literacies are transformative. The owning of a literacy gives one access to the construction of meaning in a social/ cultural group.

These are some of the basic tenants i have about literacy, They are the product of very certain ideological lense which in itself is the product of my life experiences and education.

Onto a working definitions of Multiliteracies:

As Warschauer points out internet technologies have caused an ecological shift in the the way we communicate. This ‘ecological shift’ has changed many of the fundamental relationships which involve text. The advent of networked computers, ITCs, the internet and countless other ‘text based’ computer interactions have changed the way members communicate with each other in certain groups.

I think that it is important to note that the major shift has been attributed to the nature of the tools themselves. A change in tool use has changed the way we think and behave. Our basic activities have been modified. How we communicate and interact through this technology has had a profound effect on the way we ‘know’, learn, and teach.

We can see the ‘shift’ in the paradigm of literacy by the change in the observable behaviors of the dominant social group. We see how different aspects of electronic communication have been ‘co-opted into the dominant literacy. I believe you can see this quite clearly by examining how much of traditional dominant literacy has remained. I think it is also made quite clear by the way characteristics of the dominant literacy were transferred from ‘conventional’ dominant literacies.

So a definition of Multiliteracy would have to go something like this:

The ability to use technology to create/transmit/recreate a meaningful message to members in a social/cultural group against a specific social/cultural/discoursal context.

Now I know this sounds alot like the definition of literacy. That’s because it is. In the way the definition is framed, it implies the existence of a number of other literacies. I think the challenge for we as educators is the understanding that there exists more than one kind of literacy. Also, that these literacies are linked to association with larger ‘literacy-groups’. Furthermore, that the application of literacy in order to ‘create/distribute/recreate’ a message is part and parcel of its social/situational/cultural context. That, I believe is what we as educators need to understand and impart to out students in order to create functioning, successful, and truly multiliterate students.


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  1. Henrick James Borger permalink

    Thank you Hannaa for your kind words… I’m just trying to lay down a ‘baseline’ so I can look back and see how my thoughts have ‘changed’ or ‘grown’ during the session. Again, thanks.

  2. Hanaa Khamis permalink

    I like your in-depth analysis Henrick. I very much agree with what you said about "[l]iteracies are inherently political and always need to be seen in the context of ‘power-relations’ and ideological subordination /dominance because the ‘owning’ of a literacy gives you access to communication and meaning-making with other members of a literacy group."

  3. Nina Liakos permalink

    I want to read your post in depth but I am too tired to do it tonight! Maybe tomorrow. But just a comment on your comment regarding multiple platforms. Maybe that is the point of multiliteracies. We can try out as many as we like and have time for, and we will prefer some to others, and perhaps it doesn’t matter if we are not all on the same page. Don’t forget to tag your stuff evomlit, and don’t forget to aggregate so that you can find everybody else’s stuff if and when you want to. I am still working on this as well. There’s a lot to check up on, and I have a job and family, like most of us here…. off to bed now. Goodnight!

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