Thursday, 12 November 2015

Notes on TLRP's Digital Literacies document

I found the most valuable section of the report to be the Response: Contextualising Digital Literacies (by Fred Garnett)  which didn’t just consider our developing understanding of digital literacy, but also considered it in the context of our understanding of literacy as a whole, in particular:
“Literacy is usually identified in terms of something missing from a learner’s skills”
Literacy is intrinsically linked to the desire to ensure education promotes social inclusion and digital literacy inevitably forms part of that. being an area that is essentially about improving critical thinking relating to understanding.

Another part that will stay with me from the text is the quote from Rheingold (2009) explaining that 21st century literacies requiring “attention, participation, cooperation, critical consumption, and network awareness.”

For me that is probably the most concise and precise attempt to define digital literacy in the whole report.

Garnett goes on to explore the purpose of developing digital literacy in the context of a Knowledge Economy that needs digitally literate knowledge workers - requiring the education system to develop digital skills. An inevitable by product of this work is the consideration of the wide range of ethical concerns such as “internet safety” often itself considered a literacy.

Within the main text the discussion of what digital literacy means are presented. The way in which the threshold between consumer and producer has lowered and the roles blurred makes the need to consider both as elements of digital literacy.

The report de-emphasises the focus on the specific skills and competencies required by the ICT industries which I understand as it is narrow. But seeking to define digital literacy in broader terms they make the language and tone of the discussion impenetrable and abstract. In particular the New London Group definition took me several read throughs to work out what they are trying to say and what purpose the statements serve. Actually I still don't see what purpose the definitions they present serve in terms of promoting or assessing digital literacy.

Kress presents a number of points about the central tole of design rather than reading and writing in digital literacy.

Much that is put forward is applicable to the ‘consumption’ of media that pre-date digital media.

Kress points out that reading (and designing) is very different with multi-modal text (mixing pictures, media and text), the physical form being the screen, the varied sources of writing coming away from the editor/ publisher/ reader model. In particular the difference between reading the printed page and working with several open windows and treating the content in each differently is clearly a situation in need of a different skills framework. This seems to me to be useful in framing the key differences between digital and traditional literacy.

I found the work by Hutchins included in the report, that argued that much of meaning only exists in relation to the understanding and response of others a bit hard to take on board as being ‘digital literacy’ as the same applies equally to all forms of communication, digital or otherwise.

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