Summer Reading – Response #1

ReadingMy Summer reading list is driven by assignment in my Digital Storytelling class. This week I read:

Chapter 1: Sampling the “New” in New Literacies Knobel, Michele and Colin Lankshear. A New Literacies Sampler. New York: P. Lang, 2007. Print.

Czarnecki, Kelly. “How Digital Storytelling Builds 21st Century Skills.” Library Technology Reports 45.7 (2009): 15. Web.

The “New” in New Literacies

Before reading this chapter, when I thought of the word “literacy,” I defined it as knowing how to read and write. I would then think of “functional literacy,” which I understood as being able to extract meaning from what you read and create meaning from what you write. You could probably phonetically read the word, “poppysmic,” and you could, in turn, write it on a piece of paper. You would be demonstrating literacy.  However, without meaning or context, this word is useless to you. If you understood it’s meaning when you read it and could properly write it in a sentence, you would be demonstrating functional literacy. I never even thought about there being new literacies. Well, let me tell you. There are.

This chapter talks about the emergence and prevalence of new and growing technology and how that has changed the way we think about literacy. In fact, it has expanded the definition of literacy. “Literacies call us to generate and communicate meanings and to invite others to make meaning from our texts in turn. This, however, can only be done by having something to make meaning from – namely, a kind of content that is carried as ‘potential’ by the text and that is actualized through interaction with the text by its recipients.” However, new literacies can include photo, video, in addition to text.

Knobel and Lankshear claim that literacies are “socially recognized ways of generating, communicating and negotiating meaningful content through the medium of encoded texts within contexts of participating in Discourses (or, as members of Discourses).” In addition to letter writing, keeping a diary and reading novels, according to this expanded definition, we can add discourses such as blogging, fanfic writing, manga producing, meme-ing, photoshopping, anime music video (AMV) practices, podcasting, vodcasting, and gaming.

Knobel and Lankshear use some terms that I was unfamiliar with before reading this chapter. When they talk about new “ethos stuff,” they mean that new literacies are more participatory, collaborative, and distributed than conventional literacies. Most interesting to me was the concept of “fracturing of space.” We are all familiar with the idea of physical space. I have my personal space, I live in a house, and I work in an office building. But what do they mean by the “fracturing of space.” Enter the world of cyberspace. It is not physical, but it is a space. Physical space and cyberspace must co-exist. Neither is going away.

Expanding the definition of literacy and living in a world where there has been a fracturing of space, what possibilities lie ahead? With technology, we can collaborate in a way that allows us to challenge what is possible, to try things that were previously inconceivable, and to do it all faster than ever before. This book was written nine years ago. Moore’s Law is a computing term which states that “processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years.” I’m curious to know what literacies now exist that didn’t exist in 2009. I suppose that would make them the new New Literacies.

Building 21st Century Skills Through Digital Storytelling

In the article, How Digital Storytelling Builds 21st Century Skills, Czarnecki examines how digital storytelling can be used to build conceptual skills. These skills include:

  • Interactive communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Personal and social responsibility
  • Technology literacy
  • Relevant, high-quality products
  • Basic and visual literacy
  • Curiosity, creativity, and risk-taking

It is not necessary for digital storytelling to be an additional task or more work for the students; “it teaches skills that fit well within common learning guidelines set forth by many school districts.” Digital storytelling can be a fun and engaging way to learn.

Although this article mainly focuses on digital storytelling in a classroom, digital storytelling can be a mechanism for people of all ages to learn. The skills needed in the workforce are increasingly moving toward the technology. I am curious to know what ways digital storytelling is currently being used in corporate America. How can I use digital storytelling in my company? With clients? With teammates? I’ll have to report back when I find the answers.

Final Note

For those of you who thought I made up the word, “poppysmic,” I did not. It is a real word.


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