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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