Making Connections: The Economics of Text

In the course ETEC 511 Foundations of Educational Technology one of the aspects of
educational technology we have studied was economics. To be honest, I’m not especially interested in economics, but it is a necessity of life. That’s the reason many of us addressed the aspect of economy of text in different contexts.

Underlying Economic Reasons

Through the history of text technologies underlying economic reasons caused or impeded substantial changes. For example, one of the reasons for replacing parchment by paper was that paper was much cheaper than parchment. Also, the invention of movable type by Gutenberg who combined it with printing press in the 1450s made books more accessible because they were cheaper. Gutenberg’s invention enabled mass production helped that
led to the growth of a mass reading public.

Jasmeet Wirk emphasizes the role of economic causes in the rise of text books in
education http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept11/2011/10/28/evolution-of-text-books-in-education/: “Running schools and printing textbooks became a more political and economic endeavor. Wakefield (1998) suggests that the pedagogical changes from rote
learning to comprehension were actually instigated by the text book industry to encourage their own marketability and so is a result of commerce and not some pedagogical research.”

Steph Tobin as one of the reasons for replacing scrolls with codex notes that the
codex was cheaper than the scroll. Additionally, “the cheaper cost of paper stimulated codex production”. http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept11/2011/10/21/the-shift-from-scroll-to-codex-to-print/

In her post The Impact of Paperbacks on Western Culture http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept11/2011/10/30/the-impact-of-paperbacks-on-western-culture/ Sian Osborne quoted Chesterton: “Literacy is a luxury; fiction is a necessity” as
a key of our “understanding of why the rise of the paperback novel has had such a significant impact on reading habits in our culture”. She argues that storytelling “is an integral component of the human experience” while “Literacy, until relatively recent history, has been a pleasure enjoyed mainly by the aristocracy.”, i.e. by people having a lot of money.

Andrew Jevne considers economic reasons important factor in presenting image in print.
In his post Tension Between the Visual and the Verbal http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept11/2011/11/27/tension-between-the-visual-and-the-verbal/ he wrote: “While late 19th century lithographic technology made it possible to
simultaneously print text and image more efficiently, for much of the print era
economics and technology promoted the separation of the elements, contributing
to a imbalance between text and image in publications.”

Everton Walker writes about digital publishing: “Universities and colleges were now
getting on board and started printing books for various courses. This new idea was now getting a lot of attention as it proved to be much cheaper than the printed version; hence giving access to persons who weren’t financially stable to purchase printed texts.” http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept11/2011/11/25/ebook-redefining-reading-and-learning/

Unanswered Questions

Although the focus of this course was not placed on economics, so we were not supposed to find ones, some economics-related questions on text technologies remained unanswered. For example, how did oral poets make their living?

Greek 50 Drachmas bank note, Hesiod depiction (1939)

Greek 50  Drachmas bank note, Hesiod depiction (1939) retrieved from http://www.banknotes.com/GR107.JPG. Hesiod was an ancient Greek oral poet.

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Digital Literacy in the 21st Century

Text of blog in form of Wordle

Inadequacy of traditional definitions of literacy

In the 1980s, when personal computers became widespread used for word processing, the world of print and corresponding notion of literacy were seriously challenged. It seemed to be obvious that traditional definitions of literacy were inadequate. Richard Lanham in 1995 (p. 198) claimed that the traditional meaning of „literacy“ as “the ability to read and write” had transformed to new meaning as “the ability to understand information, however presented.” Nowadays in networked information economy maybe more than ever before it is obvious that new definitions of literacy are necessary. Jones-Kavalier and Flannigan (2006) recognized the necessity of a new literacy in our accelerated, media-saturated and automated society as a prerequisite for fully functioning members of society.

Since 1980s many new concepts of literacy have been developed, such as digital literacy, information literacy, media literacy, multiliteracies etc. These terms are not always clearly separated and sometimes are used interchangeably. This paper will focus on digital literacy because it seems to be a direct „translation“ of traditional literacy in the digital era.

What is digital literacy?

In the selected literature there is no consensus on what digital literacy is. Eshet-Alkalai (2004) identifies an extensive range of uses of a term “digital literacy” in the literature, from those focusing on technical aspects to those having cognitive, psychological, or sociological sense. However, many reviewed authors (Bawden, 2008, Buckingham, 2008, Eshet, 2002) emphasize that digital literacy is much more than mere addressing technical aspects, i.e. using computer programs. Eshet (2002, p. 2) wrote: „It [digital literacy] is a special kind of mindset; a special kind of or thinking.“

Text of blog in a form of WordleAs suggested by Lankshear and Knobel (2008), there are conceptual definitions of “digital literacy” that present views of digital literacy as a general idea and more specific “standardized operational” definitions that describes digital literacy in terms of certain skills or competences considered as a standard for general adoption.

One of the conceptual definitions of “digital literacy” that it is applicable across the specific technologies including the context of social media, according to Bawden (2008), is provided by Paul Gilster. Bawden (2008) states that, although it had been used by many authors in the 1990s, the concept of digital literary was introduced exactly by Gilster in his book Digital Literacy in 1997. Gilster defined digital literacy as „the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide variety of sources when it is presented via computers“ (in Bawden, 2008, p. 19).

Renee Hobbs (2010) offers a “standardized operational” definition as a set of skills including: (a) finding and using digital tools and information, and sharing information with others; (b) comprehending information and analyzing messages in a variety of forms in respect to the author, purpose, point of view and credibility; (c) creating content in a variety of forms by means of language, images, sound, and digital tools and technologies, with consciousness of purpose, audience, and composition techniques; (d) reflecting on one’s own identity and communication behaviour with respect to social responsibility and ethical principles; (e) taking social action individually and collaboratively in order to share knowledge and solve problems in the family, workplace and community.

Diverse Modes of Representation

Text of blog in a form of WordleOne of the crucial characteristics of digital literacy is using diverse modes of representation, as an opposition to press dominated by written text. Kress (2005) advocates multimodality with emphasis on image that has more and more been replacing writing. While speech and written text are organized in a temporal and sequential manner, image represents spatial organization of meaning. This change influences transformation in meaning of reading, which cannot be perceived mere as decoding, but as „reading as design“, meaning that readers design a coherent complex sign corresponding to their needs (Kress, 2005). The New London Group (1996) considers any semiotic activity, including using language to create or consume different kinds of text, a matter of design thus emphasizing active and dynamic nature of a meaning-making process.

The New London Group (1996) argue that the multiplicity of communication channels as well as increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in the world today require shift from traditional language-based approach to literacy to much wider perspective. Their concept of multiliteracies transcends the limitations of traditional approaches to literacy by emphasizing linguistic and cultural differences as essential qualities of contemporary societies and private lives of students. The other critical aspect of multiliteracies is the increasing complexity and inter-relationship of different modes of meaning: linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial, and multimodal. The latter represents an interconnection among the other modes of meaning. Cope & Kalantzis (2009) reworked the original model by separating written and oral language and adding tactile representation.

Social Dimension of Digital Literacy

The New London Group (1996, p. 4)) emphasize a social dimension of multiliteracies. „Mere literacy“ is focused usually on a „singular national form of languauge“, while multiliteracies addresses „the realities of increasing local diversity and global connectedness.“

However, some previous authors took a more complex approach to literacy, such as Scribner and Cole (1981, in Lankshear and Knobel, 2008, p. 5) arguing that literacy comprises “a set of socially organized practices which make use of a symbol system and a technology for producing and disseminating it”. That means that literacy is not just encoding and decoding different kinds of scripts, but applying this knowledge for specific purposes in specific contexts.

According to Cope & Kalantzis (2009) new literacy reflects changes in social and technological context such as new relationships in work place including collaboration and sharing, the developments of a civil society, and a „profound shift in the balance of agency“, which transforms workers, citizens and persons from spectators, audiences or passive consumers to players, creators and informed consumers.

In this new social context the notion of audience, author and authority has substantially changed. This phenomenon can be well described in one sentence written by Kress (2005, p. 19): „When everyone can be an author authority is severely challenged.“

These changes are part of a broader concept of democratic nature of digital literacy that allows the general public better access to information and knowledge as well as the ability to create and edit widely accessible content. Lanham (1995) suggests that digital literacy is profoundly democratic extending its scope from a ruling aristocracy to everyone. This is even more evident in the Web 2.0 era characterized by concepts of microcontent, openness and folksonomy, as referred to by Alexander (2006) that make creating, sharing and consuming digital content yet easier. Dobson and Willinsky (2009) remark that, even though digital literacy has a great potential for a much wider access to knowledge, it maintains historical continuity between print and digital literacy, with nineteenth-century public library and public school democratizing movements.

On the other hand, digital divide seems to remain a big challenge for achieving widespread digital literacy, no matter whether the source of divide is differences in access between developed and developing nations, income, gender, age, race or ethnicity.

Empirical Studies on Digital Literacy

Text of blog in a form of WordleStatistics reports and empirical studies on digital literacy are scarce and since they are based on different understandings of digital literacy it is hard to validate and compare them.

In the 2009 study Eshet-Alkalai and Chajut (2009) used a model of digital literacy that they developed comprising six skills: (a) photovisual literacy, (b) reproduction literacy, (c) branching literacy, (d) information literacy, (e) socioemotional literacy and (f ) real-time thinking skill. While all other skills seem self-explanatory, branching literacy requires explanation – “the ability to construct knowledge by a nonlinear navigation through knowledge domains” (Eshet-Alkalai and Chajut, 2009, p. 713). The study is focused on changes over time in digital literacy among 111 participants divided in three age groups: high schools students, college students and adults.

Findings reveal two main patterns of change over time: (a) narrowing the gap between younger and older participants in the tasks requiring photovisual and branching literacy and (b) widening the gap between younger and older participants in tasks requiring creativity and critical thinking, i.e. reproduction and information tasks. Comparison with the matched control groups clearly indicates that the experience with technology is the main factor responsible for the observed changes over time in digital literacy skills. This makes a promise for digital literacy to become a pillar of life-long learning.

As Søby (2008) noted, the report from The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training The State of Equipment and Services in Education 2006–2007 shows the increase in networked computers availability. Over 90 per cent of all computers in schools were connected to the internet in 2007 in comparison with 80 per cent in 2005. A networked computer-pupil ratio ranges from  6.1 in primary schools to about 1.9 pupils per networked computer in upper secondary schools. However, Søby (2008) emphasizes that infrastructure and internet access does not guarantee corresponding use of digital tools in the curriculum. Søby (2008) discusses a longitudinal study on digital competence comprising 499 schools in Norway called ITU Monitor. The findings indicate that computers are used only to a limited extent as regards the type of tasks, involved subjects and time spent. Although there are considerable variations among different schools and pupils in the same grade, the majority of pupils make a limited use of computers, mostly for simple searches on the internet and tasks requiring use of Office programs.

One of the important goals of the study – to develop indicators that would operationalize the concept of digital literacy, resulted in the following indicators: to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create using ICT. The study showed that teachers in general lay great stress on managing information while disregarding other aspects of digital literacy. Søby (2008) suggests that it is necessary to raise awareness among teachers about what digital literacy is.

Governmental and Institutional Support to Development of Digital Literacy

Text of blog in a form of WordleEuropean Commission (2011) recognizes the importance of digital competence as being one of the key skills for life and employability. The question is not anymore if technology should be used in education, but rather how and where. Thus European Commission (2011) through a range of initiatives puts efforts in encouraging the pedagogical support, the learning opportunities and the assessment approaches that will promote the acquisition of digital competence.

Selwyn (2009) argues that formal institutions such as schools and libraries have an important role in supporting young people’s engagement with digital technologies and digital information through providing young people with access to digital technologies, content and services, as well as additional training. The technical training should be accompanied with efforts to explore the ways in which “critical digital literacies” can be developed.

Digital Literacy and Education

Since digital literacy is considered to be a necessity for full participation in contemporary networked information society, it seems obvious that education system should take part in preparing students to become its informed members. Hobbs (2010) claims that introduction of media literacy in formal education can be an effort to bridge the digital divide and cultural gap, a way to empower students and make connections across subject areas, as well as means to foster e-inclusion.

Hobbs (2010, p. 31) identified five challenges that educators, curriculum developers and policymakers must consider before taking actions on digital literacy: (a) moving beyond a tool-oriented focus, (b) addressing risks associated with use of digital technology, (c) expanding the concept of literacy from print literacy to literacy as “the ability to share meaning through symbol systems in order to fully participate in society”, (d) increasing people’s capacity to assess message credibility and quality, and (e) bringing news and current events into classroom.

Digital Literacy in Informal Settings of Web 2.0

Text of blog in a form of WordleAlthough digital literacy as a broad concept can be maintained unchanged in the Web 2.0 age, concrete forms it takes in variety of tools, networks and practices of Web 2.0 have drastically changed with respect to the final result as well as process of creating, disseminating and communicating. For example, there is a huge difference between individual, close, completed qualities of a word document with collaborative, open and uncompleted qualities of a wiki page.

Through enabling easy and rapid creation, editing, sharing, remixing and other forms of manipulation with content, Web 2.0 tools represent a further step in democratization of digital literacy. Additionally, Web 2.0 movement empower users to play more important role not only in creating content but also in information architecture through contributing to a new form of metadata, the folksonomy (Alexander, 2006).

Conclusion

For further development of theory, research and practice it is necessary to gain a common understanding on what digital literacy is. In spite of digital divide that remains a serious challenge, digital literacy shows a great potential for a much wider access to knowledge. Developments in Web 2.0 tools and practices have an important role in increasing and democratizing digital literacy.

 

References

Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? EDUCAUSE Review,41(2), 34-44.

Bawden, D. (2008). Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (Eds.) Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices. (17-32). New York: Peter Lang.

Buckingham, D. (2008). Defining digital literacy. In Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (Eds.) Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices. (17-32). New York: Peter Lang.

Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (2009). ‘Multiliteracies’: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal4(3), 164-195.

Dobson, T. and Willinsky, J. (2009). Digital literacy. The Cambridge handbook on literacy (pp. 1-30).

Eshet, Y. (2002). Digital literacy: A new terminology framework and its application to the design of meaningful technology-based learning environments. In P. Barker & S. Rebelsky (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2002 (pp. 493-498). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Eshet-Alkalai, Y. (2004). Digital literacy: A conceptual framework for survival skills in the digital era. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia (1391), 93–106. Retrieved from http://www.openu.ac.il/Personal_sites/download/Digital-literacy2004-JEMH.pdf

Eshet-Alkalai, Y. and Chajut, E. (2009). Changes over time in digital literacy. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(6), 713-715. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0264

European Commission. (2011). Lifelong Learning Programme, General call for proposals 2011-2013, Strategic priorities 2012. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/llp/doc/call12/prior_en.pdf

Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and media literacy: A plan of action. Washington DC: The Aspen Institute.

Jones-Kavalier, B. and Flannigan, S. (2006). Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st century. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 29 (2). Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0621.pdf

Kress, G. (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge and learning. Computers and Composition, 22, 5-22.

Lanham, R.A. (1995). Digital literacy. Scientific American, 273(3), 198-199.

Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2008). Introduction, Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices. In Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (Eds.) Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices. (1-16). New York: Peter Lang.

Selwyn, N. (2009). The digital native – myth and reality. Aslib Proceedings, 61 (4), 364 – 379.

Søby, M. (2008). Digital competence – from education policy to pedagogy: The norwegian context. In Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (Eds.) Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices. (119-149). New York: Peter Lang.

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review 66(1), 60-92.

 

 

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The Remediation of Kim

I had the opportunity today to attend my family’s church for the first time this term. The sermon was focused on the Gospel of St. Mark. The pastor spoke eloquently about the grammar of this text, the Greek translation and the resulting incomplete sentences that start and finish this gospel.

I realized at that moment I had made some deep connections to my learning this term. The reason was my internal dialogue during the sermon. The Pastor was extremely surprised that the text of St. Mark included incomplete sentence but I was not.

Immediately I thought about how early texts were created. This Gospel of St. Mark, copied ever diligently by scribes throughout the centuries, was one of the earliest Christian texts. The original writer, St. Mark, was from a primarily oral culture. His thinking and therefore his writings reflect his orality. When this text was created the predominant text technology was the scroll (Ong, 1982 ; Bolter, 2001, p. 21) The technology of the scroll only allowed for a limited length of text and did not “contribute to any cultural sense of closure” (Bolter, 2001, p.78) If these texts were created from an oral tradition there were very rarely a dramatic ending or beginning. They just started and ended (Bolter, 2001, p. 78). The combination of St. Mark’s oral culture and the text technology of the scroll, Bolter describes, “They often fall silent, leaving the impression that there is always more to say” (Bolter, 2001, p. 78). Therefore an incomplete sentence at the end St, Mark’s Gospel is not unexpected.

A second reason that I was not surprised at the incomplete sentence ending St. Mark’s Gospel is due to the development of the text technology of grammar. I thought about the rules of grammar and how scribes developed those rules over centuries as they dutifully copied earlier texts (Agarwal-Hollands & Andrews, 2001). Just writing has “transformed human consciousness” (Ong, 1982, p. 77), the rules of grammar transformed writing. As St. Mark wrote his Gospel, the grammar rules we use today about sentence structure had not yet been invented and St. Mark’s primarily oral culture grammar would have permeated his writing (Ong, 1982, p. 81)

I doubt that three months ago I would have had the same conversation with myself. I have been transformed forever in the way that I look at and interact with text technologies.

 

References

Agarwal-Hollands, U. & Andrews, R. (2001) From scroll… to codex… and back again. Education, Communication & Information.1(1), 59-73. doi:10.1080/14636310120048056

Bolter, J. (2001) Writing space: Computers, hypertext and the remediation of print. 2nd Edition Routledge: New York

Ong, W. (1982) Orality and literacy. Routledge: London

 

 

 

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Making Connections

Making Connections

Drawing a line along the path we’ve taken this semester, it is easy to see we’ve covered a lot of ground.  Every element, however, has been thoroughly connected through the common theme of text (including orality as its predecessor) and the increasingly rapid transformation it has undergone through the ages.  From traditional texts, written on papyrus scrolls, to the text of today which is created, edited on read on glowing screens.  What a remarkable transformation.  And it’s not simply been the way in which we view text that has changed, but also the processes by which it is produced.  I return to a quote shared at the beginning of the term when it was quipped that “the most important word processing is what goes on between your ears.”  How appropriate!

This transformation has brought with it many ‘losses and gains’ – some of which have been lost forever, other elements which have been rediscovered through remediation.  A constant and recurrent theme through the course was ‘remediation’.  The remediation of print is the easiest example to point out, but we viewed elements of remediation in other advances including the development of ebooks, scrolling and hypertext as illustrations of a remediated past.  Our text’s, both Ong and Bolter’s, provided us with the theoretical background to understand these advances more clearly.  There will always be benefits and drawbacks to such advances.  I recall posting on the enjoyment of physically holding a book and turning its pages, which cannot genuinely be replicated with a glowing tabled.  The ability to wind down and relax before bed with a book is not quite the same with an ereader.  I’ve argued that unlike the scroll, the book will not become obsolete because its so handy – it is ‘indestructible.‘ You can look at it quickly, it’s portable and you can transfer it into electronic format easily.  Text communication technologies also appear to have lent themselves easily to the lazy manipulation of language for convenience sake, evident in the short hand messages people share via text and email.

There are, however, clearly a number of benefits to the direction we’ve gone.  After all, we wouldn’t move to digital text technologies if there weren’t.  At the beginning of the course we listened to an audio recording which gave us the following profound quote:

“We have been the victims of 100 years of monologue”.

This was in reference to the fact that mass media has traditionally had a one way flow – but this is no longer true.  And our text technologies are an enormous part of this.

Through our course work we have tied or ideas closely not just to the writings of Bolter and Ong, but also to other theoretical frameworks which aid in our understanding.  Technological determinism and continuity theory informed our discussion on the development of new technologies.  I wrote that I believed the concept of technological determinism over simplified the process of adoption of technologies because it only looked at one principal or determining factor in explaining socio-historical phenomena. Continuity theory, on the other hand, has merit because its not an either/or situation with respect to oral and literary cultures. It represents a spectrum on which we can overlap experiences connected to both extremes.  I think our exploration of oral and literary cultures is too easily separated into distinct spheres. I think the real interest lies in where these overlap. After all, we have more in common than we do differences.

For all the change we’ve experienced and studied, text remains the unifying thread through this all.  As Dobson and Willinsky point out, “what we see of this [digital] literacy is remarkably continuous with the literacy of print culture”.  Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.  A new direction entirely, or perhaps the remediation again of a technology already used.  What we can say is that whatever technology influences the next change in the spaces of reading and writing, we know it will be built on a framework which champions the value of text regardless of form – oral, visual or literate.

 

References

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Dobson, T. & Willinsky, J. (2009). Digital Literacy. In Cambridge Handbook on Literacy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved Dec 1, 2011, from http://pkp.sfu.ca/files/Digital%20Literacy.pdf

Ong, Walter. (1982.) Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.

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Change

I really enjoyed watching the tag cloud on the side of the community blog grow over the semester.  Pretty impressive list now!  I didn’t spend as much time here as I would have liked, but I certainly found everyone’s posts interesting.  I thought it was especially interesting to see how different people chose to look at the same subject.  For example, here is a post by Andrew Jevne and another by Ken Buis on the change from text to image.  Andrew takes the view that the two modalities are competing against each other whereas Ken focusses more on the transformation taking place.

This course was all about change, so many of the posts had this theme.  With an interest in history, I found this theme resonated with my thoughts.  One of my favourite posts was by Doug Connery entitled “Creatures of Habit and Agents of Change.”  I liked his post because it spoke to how social change may have affected a particular person.  Sometimes we forget that things are changing as we go about our daily lives.  However, that’s getting harder and harder to ignore as the rate of change accelerates.

As a quality improvement consultant, my job is all about change.  I have just begun a career in this area, so I see a learning curve looming!  I’m very eager to delve more into how to make social change happen rather than be a mere bystander.

This course has expanded my thinking on history, text, images, multimedia and the relationships among them all.  It’s been very enlightening to say the least!

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Weaving It Together

Bayeux TapestryThe Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of the events leading up to the invasion of England by William the Conqueror and it is actually embroidered cloth and  a mixture of words and images.  

This course has been challenging, engaging and even frustrating at times and I have enjoyed it from beginning to end.  Making connections through the course requires looking for the common threads and weaving them together to tell the final story.  Together, I am sure we will discover all the threads and weave our final tapestry.  I would like to weave a thread about literacy and the issues of universality in the digital age.

Bolter acknowledges “the key problem that the technology is not universally available” (p. 205) in his final chapter and in the discussion of text and technology.  Several commentaries and projects explored the universal access and place of digital literacy today.  Leonora examines the importance of critical digital media skills while Doug writes about the same issue in the post secondary system.  Juliana shifts the focus to the changing face of literacy for apprenticeship training.  Jennifer’s presentation shows how we can use the idea of multiliteracies to include the marginalized.  We discussed the impact of the lack of literacy skills but mostly we learned how literacy has changed the world and as the definition of text and literacy changes, it continues to do so.

I read with interest the last two chapters of Bolter’s Writing Space while I was busy still reflecting on the MET program for my ePortfolio in ETEC 590.  I have been revisiting the courses I have taken – rereading, thinking and reflecting on the material with an eye to the connections between courses and my own learning.  What has surprised me the most is the realization that taking ETEC 540 as my last course was the perfect way to weave it all together.  From reading Bolter, Ong, other course readings and the fantastic material contributed to our Community Weblog, I realized that our explorations of text and technology are deeply connected to the rest of the program by the many references to theories, authors, and concepts in other courses that are now woven together with text and technology as the threads.  Looking back helped me to situate text and technology as the warp and the weft of my tapestry of learning and no, my eP metaphor is not weaving ;).  A very rewarding way to finish up the MET program!

Thanks for all the collaboration and generous sharing of ideas.

References:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABayeux_hawking.jpg

 

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Making Connections: We can do it.

I have been interested in how technology, and more specifically mobile technology, has been affecting and changing the way our students communicate and interact with each other for some time now. After this taking this course I realize that I have been having a hard time looking at these changes through the eyes of a student. When I see two teens sitting next to each other texting, I immediately try to imagine myself interacting with a friend like that when I was a teen and I cannot do it. When I hear about some of the personal posts kids put on Facebook I cringe and wonder where their appreciation for privacy went. I have a hard time appreciating the literacy skills needed to engage in a Youtube video. I struggle with these things not because I am a Luddite, but rather because I have been interested in how these technologies have changed the environment I was used to instead of viewing the new environment that these technologies have afforded.

Andre Jevne acknowledges the society changing powers of technology and wisely cautions us to carefully evaluate the technology before we drink its Kool-Aid. Caution does not have to mean slowly going forward, we can embrace technology while considering its impact on how we live. When it comes to education, Doug Connery builds on other classmate’s and prof’s observations on how slow educators typically are in accepting and incorporating new technology into their classrooms and teaching philosophies.

It is comforting and encouraging to hear my classmates talk about their trials of meaningfully incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching. Although this list is not exhaustive, people like Everton Walker and Steph Tobin do an awesome job of encouraging other teachers to challenge their thinking about technology and education simply by incorporating these new tools into classrooms.

It has been exciting to learn with all of you, and I wish everyone success in all your future endeavours.

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Connecting Past and Present

As I reflect on the many things I learned throughout this course remediation comes to mind over and over. Oral literacy played a prominent role in society for generations, even though it had its downfalls. The development of the written word took many more generations to create and spread throughout the people of the world (some are still struggling to teach it, today). The development of the printing press was a huge step in speeding up the printing process and educating the world (see Bolter, 2001). Now, we are moving away from the codex book to hypermedia and the e-book. This shift continues to have its challenges as it is in the early stages. Postman (1992) warns users to be careful when using technology and to watch out for “technopolies” which may control our lives if we allow them. Constant remediation is happening as technological innovation and development take place. The web and hypertext have allowed readers to be visitors to a text, not just readers alone (Kress, 2004). Multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) are creating horizontal relationships of teamwork instead of the Fordian top-down management style. History teaches that the remediation of print is constantly at work, ebbing and flowing with new inventions and the collaboration of ideas. History also teaches us that there is always some resistance and scepticism when change is occurring. Now, we teach 21st century literacy skills to our students, using many different technologies and ideologies. I hope we can keep our technological past in mind as we strive to move forward into the future.

Web 2.0 tools

Web 2.0 Logos

As mentioned by Sherry Turkle in a TED talk that was shared by the group, and in her book Alone Together (2011), we learn that we are in a new era, with change happening at an alarming rate. As teachers, we are the professionals that judge what tools are best for our students and then have the responsibility to teach them the skills to use the tools and model adaptations to change as it occurs. To help us there has been some research done on how to go about judging educational technology. Bates and Poole (2003) adapted a framework to help us think about and judge our use of technology, especially in today’s classrooms. Through careful consideration and a pinch of scepticism within us, we can use the best tools to move forward. We now live in a Web 2.0 world where students use social media every day outside of school, but are often not allowed to in school. As research draws out the benefits and downfalls of “screen time” and technology use we sit in limbo, waiting to be told what to do. Ken, in commentary #3, points out that Web 2.0 technologies make storytelling unpredictable, making the story more interesting and engaging for readers. As we add these tools to our teaching practices we can reengage students in their learning, helping them be creators, not just vessels waiting to be filled with information.

I appreciate the history lesson learned throughout this course. I am reminded of the many tools we use to communicate. I have gained a new appreciation for oral literacy, especially as I have been raised mostly on pen and paper, with a mix of hypertext in my schooling. The new Web 2.0 tools seem to be returning to our roots where everyone gets a chance to share and be heard. Some people continue to struggle with the technological change that we are experiencing. To quote Doug in commentary #1 on indigenous people, “Losing their language is more than losing the ability to converse in their native tongue; it also threatens the existence of their culture.” I believe we can use the tools we have now to save language and culture through collecting and sharing artifacts, visuals and by creating circles of influence through social media. As a people we will never return to where we were in the past but we can choose what pieces of the past we take with us to the future.

From the invention of the telegraph to the e-book, we are intrigued by new technology and ways of communicating. Technological determinism is adopted by some people as others hold on tightly to the past. As teachers of future generations I see it as our challenge to seek out the best learning tools and share our findings with those we have a responsibility to teach. This course has reconfirmed to me that everyone is different and multimodal, there is not just one way to teach a concept, and the future is full of change. May we have the wisdom and courage to embrace the things that need embracing and let go of those things that don’t.

Dennis

 

References

Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). Effective teaching with technology in higher education: Foundations for Success. New York. Wiley, John and Sons Incorporated. P. 75-105.

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kress, G. (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning.” Computers and Composition. p. 5–22.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York. Vintage. p. 3-20.

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review. 66(1). p. 60-92.

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.

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Making Connections: Web 2.0 hypertext unifies minds

In this final reflection, I want to connect some of my own thoughts to key blog posts made by fellow students in this course regarding the association between writing technologies and the mind, specifically Web 2.0 hypertext and writing and reading.

I have grappled throughout the course with the following questions:  How does the mind shape writing technologies?  How do writing technologies shape the mind?  What is the relationship between the two?  How does this affect the relationship between the writer and reader?  These themes and others have been explored in Ong’s and Bolter’s books and in the writing of several of my fellow students on this blog.

The first point I would like to share is that I have come to think that all written texts (in any format) are approximations of mind that can never fully convey the interconnected thought underlying them.  And I think that new remediations of text, as have occurred already, and as will continue to occur so long as humans are around, are the result of the pursuit to develop better and better representations of mind.  Connections between thoughts are one of the biggest distractions to me as I write.  I am continuously making choices about what I include in my writing.  But hypertext allows writers the option to communicate more information in the form of connections without disrupting the flow of the text.  It adds potential to the text, especially if I am also the author of the linked text.

As a writer, I am constantly tasked with choices.  The flow of my words and sentences on paper or the screen is a construction of my thoughts at that moment of time.  Hypertext affordances allow me to add connections and other related thought trails the reader can choose to follow when or if they want to.  But, here we have more choices also for the reader.  An author’s written construction, which is captured in hypertext, can be read in different ways depending on the choices of the reader.  Hypertext, while giving the writer a better approximation of connected thought, can also threaten that approximation because the very structure of hypertext allows the reader more choice regarding what is read. Angela discussed a similar effect, as she discussed Kress’s (2005) gains and losses, with the addition of images to text.  Angela noted: “New practices of reading and writing are emerging from the engagement of text with image and/or depiction. Within this engagement the reader designs the meaning from materials made available on the screen, on the new kinds of pages.

So, as became obvious in this course, the addition of new affordances to writing in the digital space not only gives the writer more options but also gives the reader more options.  The more adorned the text becomes with images and hyperlinks, the less control the author has over what the reader will read, and subsequently, what meaning is made from the writing. In his Commentary #3, Ken frames this loss of control caused by hypertext and embedded media more positively as a ‘participatory’ media: “In this creative space, Web 2.0 digital stories move beyond the linear construction of the printed book into a more unpredictable, open-ended, participatory, hyperlinked and flexible form of media.” Of course, the really exciting notion that Ken develops in his commentary is the idea that hypertext and flexible digital text formats are connecting our minds together in a digital space: “I would suggest that digital stories, in their open, flexible and hyperlinked rich media formats are based on distributed creativity and therefore are reliant on distributed cognition.”  The conclusion here is profound.  Hypertext as realized in the Web 2.0 space is not just a read-write web where content authors and consumers can participate equally.  Web 2.0 affords the intermingling of meanings between the writer and reader.  So, when Bolter (2001) writes about “the notion that text unifies the mind” (p. 195) perhaps one could remediate that statement as the notion that Web 2.0 hypertext unifies minds.

In addition to extra choices for the reader, which are provided by the writer in the form of hyperlinks and embedded media, the read-write web, of course, even provides a way for readers to contribute their own text to the text being read, thus creating a new text.  Steph also noted this point in her blog post chronicling the progression from scroll to codex to print: “A benefit of digital text is that it affords debate and collaboration between readers and authors, similar to how the codex used to be shared orally with others.” This greater connection between writer and reader is one of the hallmarks of digital text and is a further illustration how Web 2.0 hypertext unifies minds.

References

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kress, G (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning. Computers and Composition,22, 5-22.

The ETEC 540 Weblog Community (see embedded links).

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More Remediations to Come

This has been one of the more enjoyable courses I have taken.  I do not think we spend enough time considering some of the major human accomplishments that still have an effect on us today.  Our transition from orality to literacy was monumental and as Andrew Jevne points out, many of us nowadays take such technologies as writing for granted.  Another point worth considering is how these accomplishments define who we are.

One way we are being redefined as educators is how our roles are evolving from experts to participants in learning alongside our students.  Garth Finlay discusses this changing role and how Web 2.0 in particular is diminishing the teacher and parent as authority figures as flexibility and collaboration become the classroom norm.  We are also being redefined as writer and reader.  As Ken Buis so aptly points out,  “like sparks of creative flows across the synaptic pathways of the brain, media-rich stories are being created across the internet uniting author and reader into a combined and seemingly paradoxical role of both producer and consumer” further discussing how the technology we use in our daily lives is impacting culture, identity and learning.

Angela Novoa elaborates on the cultural transformations taking place with the integration of digital technologies.  She makes the important point that as our students create, distribute and consume content through text with the integration of audio-visual components, they are developing new ways of understanding and further developing their multiliteracies.  This could be argued for the integration of previous technologies as well.  In Sian Osborne’s research paper on the The Impact of Paperbacks on Western Culture, she looks at the democratization of literacy and how the advent of the paperback helped bring about literacy to the masses.  Storytelling and reading were not longer elitist activities and soon became habit for many.  These remediations helped and continue to help redefine ourselves within our cultural contexts.

Bao-Van Hill discusses the role of remediation of writing in the identity of an entire nation in The Romanization of the Vietnamese Language.  As the Romanization of the language was brought about by a Jesuit on a mission to spread the Gospel of the Roman Catholic Church,  Catholicism became widespread.  This remediation also improved literacy in Vietnam.  Bao-Van further discusses the current ‘Englishization’ of Vietnamese education which is now changing the language being used in many Vietnamese homes.  Writing technologies are redefining our roles but is it possible that we reinvent writing technologies in order to refashion our definitions of mind and self as Bolter (2001) suggests?  Are we the same people we were when we first started writing?  Does the Romanization of a language, for example, change who we are? Perhaps it is simply that the remediations of writing, especially from print to electronic, have enabled us to create and share more and that different aspects of who we are will become apparent with different modes (and purposes) of writing.

Just as print technologies defined our relationships in the past, electronic technologies are now doing the same (Bolter, 2001).  As Kim Melvin points out, the tools and technologies we use to write allow us to see ourselves and the world around us in different ways.  Though just developing at the time Bolter wrote Writing Space, we are now seeing a ‘networked’ culture where the web is just a metaphor for how we function in various communities and where the network is displacing the hierarchy (2001).    While seen as ‘fragmented’ when looking through the lense of a print culture, hypertext and hypermedia are helping create subnetworks of individual communities that connect or disconnect at will.

Thinking and writing are inseparable.  Writing is simply putting on paper (or any other physical or digital surface) what is already writing in our minds. Though, as Bolter (2001) points out, writing helps us better define our thoughts out of the confusion and emotion going on inside our minds.  Hypertext further helps us hypermediate the mind (Bolter, 2001) – to expand, talk back and develop a reflective relationship that TV, radio, and printed text could not.  While at the time of writing, Bolter was uncertain of whether the future of text would remediate culture, I believe it does.  We are now not only able to create and share more of the different aspects of who we are, remediations of text are changing the patterns of human knowledge, thinking , beliefs, and behaviour though hypermediated shifts in symbolic thought and social learning.

Reference

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

The ETEC 540 Weblog Community

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Creative Explorations

I am always amazed at the talent in the MET program. You are inspiring! I’m just exhausted…

During this course, I’ve had the opportunity to do a little creative exploration.

Animoto – To borrow the tag line from Staples, “That was easy!” Here is my video: MET Animoto Exploration.

Flickr – I was able to find and use images (as long as they were attributed) for my major project assignment. The Influence of Text Technologies on Politics

I was also able to explore my school division’s new wiki and blog tools in SharePoint 2010 which I will help implement in January! Talk about purposeful play!

The last tool that I explored was when I used Wordle in my second course this term to help me reflect and analyze what I had learned.

I’m almost to the point where I can get some sleep.

Kim

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What a Journey!

What a journey!

We celebrated the richness of orality, its alluring qualities, and then its remediation through text. We realized that our fears of change have existed for throughout history when we read Postman and then realized how well text remediated orality.

We saw how literacy evolved from scroll to codex , how it restructures consciousness, effected the political life, teaching & learning style and economic life. We saw it change forms through technopoly!

The remediation of the overpowering text through multimodality was deemed traumatic for some while celebrated by others as it would reach out to more people. Very similar to the remediation of text!

Even as we examine multiliteracies, apply it in our professional and everyday lives, we look at its limitations – setting the path to remediate it.

The journey continues!

I can just imagine how interesting this journey will continue to be…

Helen inspired me to add my own poem …

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

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Final Reflections and Connections

You all will need to forgive the quality of this post as the cold that I suffered from is still lingering and I am still exhausted.  I will do my best in my final reflection of this course.

I will start by saying that this course was a definite challenge for me.  I am from the hard sciences and this course with its historical and sociological perspectives was a challenge for me.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around some of the readings and had difficulties conversing about some of the topics.  However, from reading some of the former posts in the weblog and by doing the research for my final research project, one thing did jump out to me.  How much literacy has become so much a part of our lives.

In my final project I examined how workplace training evolved from the apprenticeship training of early history to what we see today.  From this research, what struck me was how the ability to read text and knowing how to find information, whether it be in a manual or the world wide web, was so important.  Without such skills, people could no longer be valuable members of society.  This was in stark contrast to early history where oral traditions were valued.  For instance, in African cultures the more aged members in society were valued because of all the information that they held in their heads.  Being close to such members was important because it allowed others to access the knowledge that they had easily.  Now with the internet and with books (and E-books), information is printed, copied and made accessible with one click sometimes.  The advent of books and such print material has allowed the author to be worlds away from us and yet we can still pick his/her brain with relatively little effort.

I have found many of my classmates’ posts have resonated this same theme.  For instance, Gordana Jugo’s post “Text can save life” exemplified this wonderfully.  Without being able to read, you won’t be able to read a sign that can save your life.  Steph also showed the “Power of the written word”, when she spoke about letter campaigns the simplicity of words to connect with people with the human experience in her hyperlink Parisian Love.  In addition, words have the power to evoke beauty and emotion with the many poems that have been quoted in the following posts:

The exclusion and isolation that can be experienced when not having literacy skills is exemplified in the Scott Alexander’s post The Power of Text.  The video that is linked to this post is touching, but also shows what can happen when people do not have the literacy skills that they need.  They are isolated and in some ways excluded from the fundamental connections that literate people take for granted. 

The problems with poor literacy and the subject of multiliteracy is also touched in

Jennifer Stieda’s essay “Multiliteracies for the Marginalized”.  Topics such as multiliteracy, digital literacy, and their subsequent teaching challenges and possible teaching solutions are also explored in the following posts:

In addition, social media which links people together with either long posts or short tweets have changed the way that we communicate with one another.  This topic was covered by Scott Alexander’s final project on social media

The above by no means is a complete compilation of all the wonderful work, thoughts and ideas posted by my classmates.  If anything, the above only shows what I could manage in my exhaustive and unwell state.  I pray that what I have written shows the connections that I was able to make from this course.  I do find it interesting, however, what I still was able to learn in a subject that was well out of my comfort zone. 

I will admit freely that I am not a great thinker, but more an applier.  Through this course and through my classmates’ posts I was able to see and experience their thoughts and connections that they were able to make with the subject matter.  I was also able to realize how certain terms such as text, technology and literacy I took for granted.

I do believe that after this course I will think more about the terms and words that come across my way.  I will delve a little deeper and perhaps take less for granted about the little words that come my way.  After all, the words that we type and read are not just a collection of letters.  They can represent complex thoughts, concepts and ideas and if gathered appropriately, can change the world.

Peace and Love,

Juliana.

Omolewa, M. (2007).   Traditional African Modes of Education: Their Relevance in the Modern World.   International Review of Education 53 (5/6). pp. 593-612

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Exploring Text (redefined)

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Elliot

This T. S. Elliot poem brings forth thougths about reflection and connection. Text and technology, orality and remediation have been explored. Now we arrive where we started and know these terms, for the first time, with clarity and understanding.

Together we have been immersed into the world of text and technology. We explored primary orality, print and text, mechanization, the breakout of the visual, and multiliteracies. We explored Web 2.o tools that help remediate print.

Looking back and reflecting on our experiences helps us know these places ‘for the first time’.

I’ve chosen to go back to the initial exploration of ‘text’ as it was collectively defined at the onset of the course. By exploring the term ‘text’ created at the beginning of our journey we will come to know the term in new light. Let the wisdom of the crowd be revealed.

Each hyperlink is connected back to the blog post of the person who shared their wisdom. I chose not to include the names, as it interfered with the flow of the words. If you would like to reveal the names of contributors, you can scroll over each link, click on the hypertext link or re-read on my ETEC 540 blog.

TEXT – Redefined

Text is human expression, the covering skin of thought, created from symbols designed to represent. Text defines self and creates reality.  Text is a representation of language, adaptable and evolving. Text is layered information (nesting dolls image), labels and organization.

Text is a tool that has personal meaning and cultural significance. How text is produced influences it’s content. Society is changed by text. Text produces feelings of power, powerlessness (Hallmark video) and a continuum of trust. Trusting text and the source of the textual communication is a concern for author and reader (Black Robe video clip).

Text is a compelling story (Parisian Love story; Goodnight Moon) or a song of significance that can change a world. Text can save lives (sign on Nevsky Prospekt), create mood through poetry (father’s poem; Jabberwocky), and unlock enigmas or secrets of the past (Rosetta Stone).  Text can be even be an image (Flickr; Wikipedia). Text based dialogue (texting, blogging) is fluid and interactive. The value of the ability to unlock understanding is immeasurable. Text is produced because a writer “has something to say” (F. Scott Fitzgerald).

Final Thoughts

Throughout this course, each of us has had something to say. We’ve said it through methods, mediums, messages and stories that were not always easy, comfortable or understood. By saying them, our words shaped our meaning; our text represented our living thoughts and created a continuum of trust. I have experienced the fluid and interactive “voices”, tried to unlock the message, and felt the mood expressed by others. We have created a celebration of text because we each had ‘something to say’. Thanks for sharing the compelling stories from your personal and cultural realities.

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Two Themes

Even though this course covered a lot of ground, most of the content was quite closely related, particularly when viewed at the end. For me, two themes were of particular interest and I noticed that many other students commented and wrote about them as well.

The first theme was really just the importance of developing a historical perspective on the transition from one writing or communication medium to another. I wrote about this topic and I noticed that others like Steph, Dennis Pratt, kimprobably, and a host of others, did as well, often for their research project. Examples were explorations of the change from scroll to codex, manuscript codex to print codex and the range of topics clustered around the “break out of the visual” concept.

We are fortunate (maybe) to be living through a significant transitional stage now in the late age of print, or early digital age, so understanding that western societies have experienced these changes before helps us recognize that these transitions do in fact lead to an altered knowledge landscape – they always have. But it also reminds us that we aren’t the first generation to go through this, and that the change from print to digital may not even be the most significant shift in communication mode. Several students made variations of this observation.

I think the concept of technological determinism was closely connected to this, and most of the literature and discussion encouraged us to develop more sophisticated ideas on technology describing a more complex interactive relationship between technological innovation and society.

The other theme I thought was prominent was the enhanced understanding of literacy – or perhaps a better term, multiliteracies – that we are developing. There was a wide range of perspectives offered on this topic, with some students very comfortable with an expanded definition that could accommodate a range of literacies meaningful in the digital age but others arguing that the definition had become too broad to have much value, and that the word had become synonymous with competency. Check out some of the discussion posts (Sian Osborne and Jim Cash had some great ideas), and some of the Community Weblog commentaries and papers/projects by Doug Connery, David Symonds and Jennifer Stieda to name three. Teresa Dobson had a great discussion board post about the origin of the word multiliteracies in the 1960s.

So much of the course content tied together in a nice linear way (very appropriate for those of us educated in the age of print) although the multimodality of some lessons fit in very well too.

Great course.

Andrew

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Thoroughly Remediated!

Thinking about connections, I think probably the key connection that has helped bring sense to all we have discussed is “remediation.” Through the contributions of everyone in the course, I think it is fair to say that my understanding of what it is to be “literate” has grown significantly. Literacy in all its forms may well be what we studied…. Yet I feel like a thoroughly remediated version of who I was when I entered this course!

The common thread that I have been most struck by is how technology has ultimately been responsible for how communication has been remediated over the centuries, from the oral tradition, through communication on clay (cuneiform, pictographs, etc), to the scroll, through the codex to where we are today, thanks to digital technology. I had not fully realized the program impact of technology on literacy practices over the millennia. I knew there was a link, of course, but never taken the time to thoroughly explore the depths of remediation that has taken place in our communicative practices. This course has been so eye opening in so many different ways.

The New London Group has argued that literacy is now made up of a collection of literacies in the form of multiliteracies. This was a difficult concept for me for some strange reason. Current technology, however, has allowed literacy to burgeon from the local context to the world-wide context, through the internet, using not only written symbols but spatial and gestural literacy in addition to oral literacy and visual communication tied together in a multi-modal context. Digital literacy is an extension of this and allows for the ultimate in creativity when presenting ideas in a digital form. Ken Buis‘s mastery of the digital medium is just one example of this.

What is important is that we haven’t lost any tradition completely. Orality, while not the same as in Homer’s Illiad, is still enjoyed and an appreciated form in the theatre. People still speak publically and argue points in law or in government, and make presentations in myriad ways. So orality has been remediated, taking a part of what it is to be orally literate and making a new literacy that is two-dimensional in the way of books. And so it goes on. Now the ebook might be considered to be a remediated form of the codex book. A web page is also a remediated form of a codex book because of its ability to hyperlink and to use hypertext, as explored by Scott Alexander, to allow the “break-out of the visual.” Not only are there so many new elements of literacy present on a web page, but readers are not so bound to reading one section first over another. Thus, literacy has been remediated through developments in technology into multiliteracies. Such remediation is having a profound impact on how we communicate in the world and has resounding implications for literacy practice and for teaching in our classrooms that cannot be underestimated.

The discussion through the forums has been enlightening to say the least! I dare say that each of us has taken a different route through the materials, almost as though the content were hypertextual. In some senses it was. We could “choose” how to engage with the material presented. We also had a number of ways of interacting with the material and several paths for us to meander down as we explored various aspects. We have each drawn from our backgrounds and from our present situations as we sought to create meaning and understand the significant implications that this research has for the future of literacy. Yet still, I find it hard to predict the “what next?” that is the question hanging over us as we go forward with our studies.

While I have linked to a few people’s work, for the sake of linking more than anything, the amount of information I could link to is overwhelming. I have learned so much from all of you and I thank you all for sharing your wisdom so freely.

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Creatures of Habit and Agents of Change

We are creatures of habit. This course is all about change, changing our habits and providing some knowledge to help others change. Text Technologies: The changing spaces of reading and writing – I think I now know what the title of this course really means. It provides a background on the changes around text and technology in the past, to help give us a window on how to deal with text, technology and other changes now and into the future.

We saw the invention of literacy and how it created change, it also created resistance. Change happened from the scroll to the book, the printing press created change. The invention of photography created change, innovation and resistance. These changes all came very slowly, however the innovations that came from each change created new products and process that created benefits that helped people consume and digest the changes faster.

Now we are dealing with accelerated changes due to computer technology. I used to marvel at the changes that my Mother-in-Law saw in her lifetime: 1916-2004 but I also witnessed how she struggled with the volume of accelerating changes that occurred in her last 30 years of life. My mother in-law and my parents kept up until probably their 50’s Now, I think about my own life and perhaps someday my kids will marvel at the changes that I lived through. I am struggling to keep up, started losing my edge in my 40’s, but courses like this and programs like MET help – I feel a resurgence. I observe my own kids habits and their uses of technology; they are in their early twenties. Just 10 years ago these were the kids that used to roll their eyes at how old fashioned their parents were getting. Now I see them starting to struggle in their 20’s, they are not keeping pace anymore; they are comfortable with the technologies that they grew up with. Their technologies are becoming dated: Walkman to CD to DVD to downloads, landline to cordless to cell phone to smart phone – where is this going at such a dizzying pace? Perhaps the new generation championed by Steph’s new baby boy Sol Phoenix will take this change faster and further then we can imagine today.

Can education keep up with this pace? Think of the technology changes in your life over the last 10 years or even 5 years. Jasmeet created a discussion called the “Untrained Professional” under “Making Connections” – fascinating, changes in education measured in tens of years. Teresa mentions 20-40 years. I only thought slow change happened in post-secondary education. It appears the answer to this question is here and it is; no, education is not keeping up. I don’t know what this means …….

I witness the push back from faculty when change is introduced: move from the sage on the stage, to the guide on the side, innovate, make class time activity based, not lecture focused, use technology to help this happen. We provide support, in terms of faculty development opportunities, conferences, but we get frustrated when this does not happen over a four year period, yikes. Perhaps we as change agents in K-12, post-secondary, and private education can help find a way to encourage and guide our colleagues through change, based on the knowledge and experiences that we have collaboratively and collectively gained from this course.

Good luck everyone as you move through the MET program and your careers with new insights and ideas.

Doug.

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Reflections on the journey

In the first two modules of our course, we used Walter Ong’s 1981 text Orality and Literacy as a catalyst for discussion. It initiated a significant shift in my way of thinking about literacy, not as simply the ability to read and write, but as a doorway into a different world of thinking, one characterized by signs, symbols, abstraction, analysis and objectivity, but which also constitutes a loss of some elements of oral culture. One of our discussions hinged on the value of verbal memory and the memorization of poetry, just one example of a skill highly valued in oral culture, but much less valued in literate, and especially Internet-age culture.

Minoan Linear A Script

Gordana Jugo talked about memorizing poetry as a child in school, saying she found there to be “an intimate relationship between person and poem that occurs.” This intimacy and connection with language can be abstracted and easily externalized in literate society, however, and more so in a culture pervaded by digital tools which are constantly reading, writing, and recording the world around us. In a literate culture, upon hearing a beautiful speech, a desire to share it might spur the listener to write it down (or in contemporary society record it), rather than to memorize it to repeat later. This ability to write or record something serves to stabilize, add permanence to, and offer the opportunity to revisit an otherwise fleeting auditory experience.

In Jay David Bolter’s (2001) book Writing Space, he cited one of the primary advantages of print as “fixity and accuracy,” that is, that once the human hand is removed from the production of each individual letter of text, it becomes much more stable, and subsequent copies of text can include improvements without introducing additional errors to the equation. Ken Buis described how the production and then private ownership of printed books brought about “a new shift in consciousness by moving print to an inert space and out of the auditory realm.” Print literacy in particular thus jumpstarted a process by which ideas came to be refined, developed, and built upon in a continuously advancing cycle, something which is not been possible to achieve in oral cultures in quite the same way, where ideas, however brilliant, are far more difficult to analyse, scrutinize, and build upon. In contrast, “when an argument becomes a visible and therefore durable structure in two dimensions, the reader can take the time to examine both the soundness of the parts and their relation to the whole” (Bolter, 2001, p.192). So while I would resist the idea that literate thinking is “better” I would certainly concede that literacy opens up possibilities for sharing and expansion of ideas which orality does not.

But these early modules were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what now constitutes text, and what it means to be literate in a computer age flooded with digital information in the form of images, sounds, and words on screens.

Gunther Kress (2005) discusses how digital text and web pages have come to reject linearity and author-determined order of the printed book, empowering the reader to “fashion their own knowledge, from information supplied by the makers of the site” (p.10). Readers become visitors, participants in the construction of knowledge.

So too have Marc Prensky’s (2001) “Digital Natives,” the students of today, come to engage with the world around them as active members collectively building, sharing, and organizing knowledge. While his arguments have been criticized and dissected extensively in academia over the past decade, his essay served as a jumping off point for intensive discussions about why many teachers are currently struggling to engage their students in a meaningful way. Setting aside the Native and Immigrant metaphor for a moment, Prensky makes an effective point in arguing that students today, having grown up with digital technologies surrounding them, do think differently. They do, as he says, “prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite” and “prefer random access (like hypertext)” (Prensky, 2001, p. 2). This has more to do with access, however, than entertainment. To have a useful, explanatory image alongside text allows for a clearer understanding and application of the text in many cases, just as having one-click access to additional, elaborating materials benefits students in allowing them to go deeper into the subject matter if they so desire – without roaming through library stacks, no less! What Prensky (2001) sees as the emergence of a new, “native” culture, I see as the emergence of a generation which can (thanks to digital technologies and the Web) access, create, manipulate, share, organize, and transmit information multi-modally. Their insistence on graphics, video, podcasts, and hyperlinks is an insistence on getting the most versatile, complete view of the information being presented, something which should be encouraged and developed by teachers and administrators alike.

The New London Group (1996) had taken a close look at this changing literacy environment of the five years earlier, but instead of identifying changes in the students themselves, they focused on the environmental changes involving media, communication, and literacy. They responded with a new definition of literacy, which they termed “multiliteracies.” They argued that a traditional definition of literacy is limiting, that in a globally networked world, “negotiating the multiple linguistic and cultural differences in our society is central to the pragmatics of the working, civic, and private lives of students” (New London Group, 1996, p.1). This emphasis on social awareness is characteristic of a networked society in which information is produced and shared socially. Doug Connery cites Masterman (1985 and 1998), who “described the need for media literacy to support participatory democracy for citizens to have power, make reasonable decisions and to become change agents,” an idea championed by the New London Group (1996) as well, who suggest that promoting a pedagogy of multiliteracies would help students “to develop the capacity to speak up, to negotiate, and to be able to engage critically with the conditions of their working lives” (p.7). In short, to empower them to participate fully in society.


Becoming an agent of change, a producer of knowledge, or a full participant in society, importantly does not require any one person to become an individually prolific knowledge producer or sharer. Online social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube, as well as blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools which have materialized in the past decade have allowed information and knowledge to be produced, shared, and organized in the aggregate. One hundred thousand authors and over 20 million articles on Wikipedia are evidence of the power of collaboratively constructed and edited text, while hundreds of millions of Facebook and Twitter users share information and musings across cyberspace by sending, linking, and embedding text, images, videos, and audio.

All of this content production and sharing has resulted in what Bryan Alexander (2008) calls social filtering, which in turn “has lead to the advent of folksonomies,” which “consist of single words that users choose and apply to microcontent” (p. 5). This system of labelling words has become a tremendously powerful engine of content organization and sharing. Users pay attention to the tagging practices of other users and adopt them rapidly, creating and spreading movements. Folksonomies are rapidly remediating traditional classification/organization approaches, improving on old taxonomic structures by employing the popular classification systems based on user preference.

folksonomies

Bolter (2001) threads the concept of remediation of writing mediums throughout his book, citing examples of how “one medium takes the place of an older one, borrowing and reorganizing the characteristics of writing in the older medium and reforming its cultural space” (p.23). That idea is extended from writing to all media in the final chapter of his book, where he describes the “breakdown of the distinction between elite and popular literature (and art in general),” saying that “our network culture, which rejects such hierarchical distinctions, finds in the Internet and the Web media that it can shape to express its preference for popular forms” (Bolter, 2001, p.208). The masses, having become literate and able to self-publish at will, have achieved true democratic power in this way, and they are gradually learning to wield it. Everyone has a say, and no one need be left out in the cold, although some undoubtedly still are. But longer do the elites make the rules about what the right way is to express an idea, or who has the right to express it.

One of the sticky issues that has come up in course discussions this semester with digital text is its permanence. How do I know that the webpage I read today will say the same thing tomorrow? Or if it will even exist next week? Or if the author ever completed his or her thought on the subject being presented? The freedom to express ideas on the Internet has led some to lament the tidal wave of information, much of which is garbage, half-baked, or unclear. Often the words produced by the masses link to other pages, ideas, and authors, following the author’s thought process by reading and clicking along. This hypertext format raises issues about when and whether a text is ever “ready” for publishing. One of the primary advantages of digital, Internet-based publishing is that it can adapt, it can update, it can correct its facts post-publication. In response to Jasmeet Virk’s questions about whether or not hypertext is ever finished, as well as whether or not it is safe “being prone to viruses, hacking, and malfunction electronic structures”, Everton Walker responded that “hypertext will always be work in progress as it has transcends the borders of print limitation. Our thoughts are always connecting to others and therefore there is always something to be added.”

So as the written word continues its ever-accelerating transition from symbols etched in stone to bits and bytes whizzing across cyberspace (and beyond), we are left with questions of permanence, of our own thought processes and preferences, of our transition from text-based information sharing to much more highly visual systems of communication.

How do we navigate the complexity of a hypertextual environment, and how to we instruct our students to do so as well, effectively? While I don’t think there are any easy answers, two major parts of the solution are continuing teacher education, and hand-in-hand with that, being involved in a community of practice. The socially-organized, multimodal pages of Web 2.0 are richer than ever, full of communities of forward-thinking, experienced educators eager to give practical suggestions for applying new tools in the classroom or send links to what they are reading to stimulate growth in their own teaching practices.

Text scratched into stone has evolved into text, pictures, video, and sound flashing through wires and waves, circling the globe in seconds. It is an evolution which will continue. Our students are chomping at the bit, ready to adapt along with it – are we ready to lead them?

Alexander, B. (2008). Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies, Theory Into Practice, 47 (2), p. 150-160

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kress, G. (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning. Computers and Composition. 22. (pp. 5-22).London: University of London

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review. 66(1). p. 60-92.

Ong, W. (1982). Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the World. London: Routledge.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved from: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

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We become Hypertext

As we continue to restructure our reality through telling stories, using text to structure thought and change our consciousness, connecting through vast global networks of data flows, erasing time and space and creating a new reality based on searchable databases of our collective unconsciousness, we become a hypertext.  This theme of hypertext reality runs in an undercurrent throughout this learning journey we have embarked on together, and despite feeling like Odysseus wandering the seas of data, we come to the end of our travels with a realization that everything can become a hypertext, and through this hypertext we reinvent ourselves and transform our identity, culture and self.

At the end of the late age of print, it is possible that our bodies, minds and world network society will become a hypertext based on data, surrounded by a sea of smart objects that feed infromation into an intelligent internet.  Bolter (2001) states that the mind is a hypertext in which the memory becomes a space for writing as we internalize the alphabet and our networked digital spaces enable multiple identities or perhaps hyperlinked identities. Hypertext is the ultimate remediation of print in that it enables a physical construction of ideas and stories interlinked along vast networked thought pathways digitized into a space of flows of data.  The significance of this is that hypertext not only reflects our mind, it is a recreation of self, community, social connections, culture and an ever-changing interconnected space that reflects the needs and ideas of a global network society.

Hypertext Restructures Consciousness and Self

The beginnings of hypertext are based in oral traditions, as stated by bvhill, who writes that in telling stories on Facebook and blogs, we continue to use the traditions of orality to connect with each other. In this hypertext reality the evidence of writing restructuring consciousness, as mentioned by  Jim Cash and Scott Alexander, is seen in the conception of time and space, the internalization of the alphabet, the existential act of writing and the development of  analytic approaches to ideas.  To assist in this hypertext of self and society, technology buttresses ideas by transforming and informing culture, as stated by Leonora, who discusses the use of media to create a searchable social memory. Transformation of a society and a culture supported by institutions is not without its traumas, as E Danielle Norris so eloquently elaborated on in her commentary.  Certainly the hypertext of a global culture that interconnects all netizens on various levels can be a frightening experience to those unwilling to change, or those institutions unwilling to adapt.

One of the impacts of the transformation of our entire state of being into a hypertext is the change of homeostasis, or, as defined in Jasmeet Virk‘s post on Orality and Homeostasis as the ability to live in the present.  In a hypertext global network society, time and space are no longer existent, as we live in what Virillio (2004) would define as a global one-time. There is only the present, since we know instantaneously if something is happening anywhere across the globe through tools such as Twitter, which is a hypertext of our thoughts in machine-based data structures of 140 character strings.

Hypertext is the remediation of print, as Angela Novoa demonstrates when she writes that hypertext is an “intensification of print” as the reader becomes conscious of not only the text, but also its media format and his/her interaction with that idea.  Mark Barrett continues this discussion, by his insights into Vannevar Bush’s concept of the Memex machine and “trails” or hyperlinked thoughts and flows of ideas.  The ability of hypertext to connect thoughts and enable the transformation of the reader and author into visitors and prosumers (Valtysson, 2010), enables not only a transformation of consciousness, but also a transformation of self, since it interconnects all and makes even the social culture of humanity into a hypertext.  Dennis Pratt writes about how technology is becoming more human-like, in that it is becoming a society in its methods of sharing ideas, connecting through Web 2.0 services like social media and sharing our interconnected stories.  In this manner, technology begins to mirror not only our minds, but also our society, which enables the development of a hypertext of culture as well. When we developed symbols out of icons it transformed us as a species and as humans, according to Garth, since it allowed for the development of language and abstract thought.  Now that we are in the late age of print, I would suggest that the hypertext of the global network society is interconnected by both text and icon, enabling a remediation of the visual, abstract and rational thought to coexist in a digital space of interconnected ideas.

We are the New Writing Space

At the end of this learning journey, I find myself contemplating on the dual reality in which we live, where one eye focuses on the digital world and the other upon the physical ephemeral world, both interconnected by hypertext.  If hypertext is a remediation of print based on language and symbol that enabled abstract thought and development of the consciousness, then hypertext has the ability to recreate our mental spaces into digital spaces.  Through hypertext, our global culture becomes interconnected deeply, transforming into a network society based on Informationalism (Castells, 2004). Technology becomes an extension of self and we are able to recreate our identities in the hypertext known as social media, online storytelling through blogging and computer-styled data transfer found in Tweets.  The oral frameworks used by the bards of ancient times, as discussed by Ong (2002), which could be interconnected based on the needs of the audience, have been transformed into an interactive writing space wherein author and reader both consume and produce information in an interactive dance of creation and internalization.  In this new networked culture, Bolter (2001) emphasizes that the writer is never in isolation, but rather interconnected within the cultural matrix of the network society.   Hypertext thus becomes a remediation of not only print, but also of orality, self, society, ideas, social networks and culture, resulting in a hypertext reality.  In this late-age of print, I would suggest that we are the new space of writing, a new remediation by hypertext, wherein our minds, ideas, culture and bodies become data sources feeding the digital world with information and complimenting data collected by smart objects that proliferate across our physical world.

 

References

Bolter, Jay D. (2001). Writing spaces; Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of                 print. Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Mahwah, New Jersey, London.

Castells, M. (2004). Informationalism, Networks, And The Network Society: A                             Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, M. (Ed.), The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural             Perspective.  Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Image used in article (2011, November 3o).  License obtained from stockxpert.com.

Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London:                       Methuen.

Redhead, S. (2004). Paul Virilio: Theorist for an accelerated culture. Toronto: University       of Toronto Press.

Valtysson, B. (2010). Access culture: Web 2.0 and cultural participation. International              Journal Of Cultural Policy16(2), 200-214. doi:10.1080/10286630902902954

 

 

 

 

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Reflections and Connections

I would like to echo Everton’s sentiment that this course has indeed been an epic journey. I would also like to express my gratitude to colleagues who have enriched this learning experience. Today, a friend of mine posted her first ever post on Facebook. She said she wanted her first post to be meaningful and so she selected Louie Schwartzberg’s ten minute presentation on ‘Gratitude’ . Her post reflects the sentiment I feel for having had the opportunity to learn with such a diverse and insightful group.
As I read through the final Bolter chapters I stopped at his reminiscence of MacIntyre’s analogy of moral philosophy in comparison to humanistic fields “… each is an incomplete and disorganized hypertext that no one knows how to read in its entirety.” (p.207). He goes on to clarify that this is not to say unity is possible or desirable. This embodies my experience of this course and in particular working through my final project. This course made me better understand the complexity of reading the Internet and all of its embedded subtexts.

I think that creating my final project reified literacy for me. I am not sure that reify is the right word but it seems to be the closest that I can get to describing my experience. In going back through our postings in this weblog I stopped at Norris’ Traumatic Remediations where she challenges the following quote

Digital technology is turning out to be one of the more traumatic remediations in the history of Western writing.

J. David Bolter, 2001, p.24

This concept of traumatic remediation and contemplations about the history of text, brings me to the concept of reification which according to the sociologist Berger (1988), is a forgetting of the origins of the social world. “This “forgetfulness” is explained, in turn, as a defensive reaction by which the individual seeks to establish psychic stability in the face of “some fundamental terrors of human existence, notably the terror of chaos” (Berger and Pullberg, 1966:68) cited by Burris, 1988, p. 3.

At some point during my final project I felt I embodied this quote as I struggled to find some order to the seeming chaos of the stories of literacy that I was trying to relate together through text found across the Internet. I was trying to get back to the origins of literacy and find a logical way to progress to where we are today. In the end I came to a categorization scheme that felt orderly and adequate making me reflect on Ong’s argument that this type of abstract categorization was not possibly with early orality. I appreciate the importance of this final task to review our community weblog and connect our works together.

References:
Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Burris, Val. (1988). Reification: a marxist perspective. California Sociologist. 10(1). Retrieved online at http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~vburris/reification.pdf

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