Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The New Literacies

Teaching with the Internet K-12: New Literacies for New Times (4th ed.) by Leu, D. J., Jr., Leu, D.D., and Coiro, J. Reflections

Chapter 1 New Literacies for New Times

A New Literacies Perspective considers the Internet as another important technology for literacy similar to pencil and paper thus learning how to effectively use the Internet is a literacy issue, not a technology issue.
There are 5 functions that define the literacies that are very important for using content from the Internet.
i. Identifying important questions
ii. Navigating complex information networks
iii. Critically evaluating information from the Internet
iv. Synthesizing it to address questions
v. Communicating the answers to others.

2. There are at least 3 reasons why the effective use of the Internet is central to our student’s success:

a. The Internet has so many exceptional resources that may be used to get kids excited about learning while learning essential content and skills.

b. The Internet opens up collaborative learning opportunities as others outside our classroom contribute the learning that takes place within our classroom. It is not just an add-on to a curriculum. It must be integrated into our content area classes.

c. There are instructional models for content areas such as Internet Workshop, Internet Project, Internet Inquiry, and WebQuest.

d. Effectively using the Internet allows teachers to make a difference because of the amazing opportunities for teaching and learning.

e. Even if these new literacies aren’t yet tested on an assessment, we can’t wait until they are to include them in our classrooms. This would be unfair to the students we teach.

f. Internet brings special opportunities to learn in socially constructed learning experiences from one another about the world around us.

3. The text tries to explain why the Internet has become so important.
a. It provides information that improves the quality of our personal, civic, and professional lives.

b. Democracy is furthered by informed citizenry which is enhanced through the Internet.

c. Trade barriers are falling and international trade is expanding and making this more of a global economy. At home, at school and in the workplace, the Internet allows individuals to make greater use of the intellectual capital they have to live richer lives.

4. A New Literacies Perspective is an integrated theoretical perspective that helps us to better understand what students need to learn about Internet use and how to best utilize the Internet in our classrooms.

Five functions are critical:

a. New forms of strategic knowledge are key.
b. Learning is often socially constructed within the new literacies.
c. Critical literacies are central to the new literacies.
d. New literacies regularly change with the influx of new technology.
e. Teachers roles change within Internet classrooms, but they become even more important (as facilitators). We become orchestrators rather than sage on the stage. We learn from one another in these new teaching and learning contexts.

Now for my reflections:

I think that the most important part of this chapter that was new for me was Figure 1-5: Examples of Skills, Strategies, and Dispositions Required by the New Literacies of the Internet and other ICT.

We as educators must be forward looking and see the amazing tool that the Internet can be in the skilled hands of students, teachers, and any learner. As students dive into using the technology though, much of these skills become very quickly actualized and intrinsic. Now kids have grown up with so much technology saturation that they are comfortable navigating the Internet from earlier and earlier ages. Yahooligans has made searching for kid-friendly material for research and fun even easier than it was 5 years ago. I think that author has a valid point that we have to help students focus on their task so that they find relevant information. But that is something that teachers are constantly doing with any classroom lesson. Now that children are getting cell phones in elementary school, they are becoming even better at texting than at writing. Instant Messaging, Skype, MySpace, Facebook, are all communities that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Who knows what will develop next with Web 2.0 tools?

Another very interesting portion of this chapter to me was the section was the section on how we are in a post-industrial, global economy with lowered trade barriers, and greater competition globally. For another course I had as a part of my graduate program, we read The World is Flat by Friedman. We discussed how even the downfall of the Berlin Wall was related to the widespread Information explosion. When people are able to share ideas and information and culture across political and socio-economic boundaries, they begin to question and critically evaluate information for accuracy and validity. We as teachers can assist students to become more critical thinkers who are able to collaborate and work cooperatively to problem solve. I agree with the authors in that we will need to pay increasing attention to informational synthesis to support the skills that will be most important in this Age of Information.

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