Learning Theories and the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies


In its 1996 Manifesto, the New London Group examined the radical changes in the personal, public and working lives of people which were being propelled by globalization, technological evolutions, and increasing cultural and social diversity. They laid out pedagogical recommendations which they believed would be conducive in preparing the students for these transformations. The New London Group recommended the need to allow for and to celebrate the diversity in the society instead of the earlier attempts in education to assimilate. They stated that, “The role of pedagogy is to develop an epistemology of pluralism that provides access without people having to erase or leave behind different subjectivities. This has to be the basis of a new norm.”

Their Recommendations

The New London Group postulated that this could be achieved by creating learning environments with the use of designs and multimodalities and by applying these designs and modalities to teach. Existing designs could be used, redesigned and then newer ones could be created in the learning process. They suggested a shift from absolute reliance on text to inclusion of other designs and symbols to create linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial, and multimodal meanings. Text was not only to be limited to paper but could be electronic, live, or multimedia. This way the New London Group acknowledged the crucial role of technology in education. The New London Group recommended that such learning designs should be applied in a socio-culturally relevant context (Situated practice) but with the guidance of the teacher to help analyse concepts through a dialogue (Overt instructions). The students would need to review, reflect, self-assess, and internalize their learning (Critical framing) before applying their learning to a new context (Transformed practice). They termed these recommendations the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies.

Realization of existing learning theories

While the members of the New London Group drew from their own theories and beliefs about pedagogy to come up with this landmark proposal, there are many preexisting pedagogical views that also found credibility and realization in their recommendations. In examining the pedagogy of multiliteracies, I saw application of views that were embedded in Vygotsky Social Development Theory, Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, Activity Theory, Situation Cognition, Distributed Learning, Constructivism, and Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence. All these theories are grounded in pluralism. The tenets of these theories get amplified and work in coordination in the world of multiliteracies.

Vygotsky has been mentioned by the New London Group in their manifesto. Vyotsky’s Social Development Theory emphasizes that the learner learns relevant contexts through social interactions and collaborations. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development accentuates the need of guidance for the learner by a more knowledgeable individual to help understand and analyze concepts. Both of Vygotsky’s key ideas make the base of the pedagogical recommendations of situated practice and overt instructions made by the New London Group in applying Multiliteracies. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory also posits that people learn from one another in society through reciprocal determinism, where the society and the individual continue to impact each other. Learning is controlled by the individual and the environment. Nowhere is this more applicable now than in our interactive technological world and in the use of different modalities to interact with the environment, which the New London Group advances as essential tools for learning.

Activity theory, which finds its origin in Vygotsky’s beliefs, states that the artefacts or tools that exist in the community help learners build and experience knowledge. Such tools are effective with collaboration and social learning. These tools are a part of the design, and the multimodal representation recommended in Multiliteracies. The use of Web tools in a collaborative social environment demonstrates activity theory in practice.

Situated Cognition theorists suggest that learning is not about storage and retrieval but rather about the situation. Such views make knowledge inseparable from context, activity, people, culture, and language. They stress on the need to create knowledge within the Community of Practice. The New London Group also recognizes knowledge as being related to people, culture, and languages as a result of globalization and technological progress.

Hutchins(1995), who came up with the distributed cognition theory believes that “the mind is in the world (as opposed to the world being in the mind).” We learn from our environment through the tools and individuals using different media. Again, this theory embeds learning within a social milieu and emphasizes collective creation of knowledge.

The New London Group’s pedagogical plan of situated practice, overt instructions, critical framing, and transformed practice resonate with Driver and Oldham (1986) model for planning constructivist instructions. Their model had 5 elements of Orientation, Elicitation, Restructuring of Ideas, Application of Ideas and Review which synchronize well with the recommendation of the New London Group. The learning theory of constructivism promulgates all the views supported by Multiliteracies about relevancy of content, role of facilitators, social interaction and metacognition, and the need to apply learning to a new environment through activities like inquiry based, product based, project based, problem based or case based activities.

But above all I think by acknowledging that learning environments be designed to create linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial, and multimodal meanings, the Multiliteracies pedagogy has recognized and adopted Gardner’s Learning Theory which states that intelligence is multimodal.


The commonalities in the above mentioned theories clearly show that there was an existing awareness amongst the academics about the need to re-evaluate the existing views about education and attempts were being made to do so . The Pedagogy of Multiliteracies by the New London Group is but a very comprehensive culmination of the key concepts of these philosophies that had been evolving over the last few decades in the face of changing social, economic needs of the world.


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

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Multiliteracies: To Be Continued…

Bryan Alexander’s (2006) article entitled Web 2.0: A New Wave for Teaching and Learning looks at a number of Web 2.0 concepts, projects and practices including some of the issues and implications for education.  While perhaps emergent at the time of writing, Web 2.0 is now a part of everyday life.  Web 2.0 is the product of its users who make use of social software to communicate and interact, capture, store, collaborate, hangout, present, and share in an effort to design our own information architecture.  Thus what comes with the emergence of Web 2.0 is the emergence of a new literacy, or more aptly, multiliteracies.

Alexander (2006) looks at a number of implications of Web 2.0 including the new taxonomy, or folksonomy of collaborative metadata collection and sharing.  Alexander explains how such projects avoid “multisubjective chaos” through the use of tags and helpful tagging tools (2006, p.34).  He also highlights the social nature of tagging as an asset in that taggers can learn from and respond to one another in situated practice (Alexander, 2006).  There seems no end to the list of the projects, practices and services aimed at connecting people through shared interests including social bookmarking, social writing, social photo services, video and podcasting, and search services (including blogrolls) to name a few.

What I find particularly fascinating is the speed with which the web has transformed from static pages of Web 1.0 to the openness of Web 2.0 in a very short period of time.  Such rapid development of openness includes cross-linked microcontent projects (such posting a comment on someone’s blog) as well as the ability of author entire webpages and websites (Alexander, 2008). Looking back at past transformations of text, decades or even centuries passed before such massive changes to text technologies changed how people related to texts.  So what is unique about the last two decades in shaping our networked information ecology?

When the World Wide Web became available to the general public in the 1990s, the global information economy transformed dramatically with the breadth of participation in the shaping of this new environment far exceeding that of print (Dobson and Willinsky, 2009).  To start with, information was suddenly available whenever and wherever an Internet connection could be found.  With increasing and improving Internet access came increases in the variety and value of content.  And this trend shows no signs of slowing down.  Now, any information consumer can also be an information producer.  Such drastic changes in how people consume and produce information will naturally have important implications for education, literacy being just one aspect.  So what does this mean for our definition of literacy?

What is interesting is that the majority of writing that learners do online is unrelated to their studies.  Texting, blogging, emailing, commenting, chatting and so on, are taking place more frequently in social contexts than in educational contexts – a stark difference from the pre-digital age.  What students write in a traditional classroom is also much different than what they write online.  As Alexander (2008) points out, learners nowadays are writing for a global audience and they find themselves questioning their personal identities, representing themselves through writing and understanding an audience (p.156).  Within their working, civic and private lives, our learners are “negotiating a multiplicity of discourses” not only because they are living within (and interacting online with) culturally and linguistically diverse and globalized societies but also because they are interacting with a rapidly increasing variety of information and multimedia technologies (New London Group, 1996).

Even where learning takes place online with course management systems such as Blackboard, Desire to Learn or Moodle, learners are developing different networked environment literacies (Alexander, 2008).  Whether they are web-enhanced f2f courses, blended or fully online courses, digital learning environments require different sets of digital literacy skills (though there will be some overlap).  Internet usage continues to expand, especially with the ever increasing use of handheld devices and tablets, yet  learning management systems remain structured and often restricted.  As Alexander (2008) suggests, “the CMS classroom will languish in localization” in comparison to the Internet (p. 158).

What may surpass the CMS or learning management system (LMS) is the personal learning network (PLN) enhanced by Web 3.0 or the semantic web.   PLNs can be described as networks (or nodes) created by individuals within a like-minded community.  They may be deemed more useful mainly because they are built around subjects and information relationships rather than tools and services (Ohler, 2010).  Subject searches on the Internet would reveal content directly relevant to the topic rather than a list of the most popular sites matching the words searched.  This would not only drastically limit the amount of time learners spend sifting through piles of irrelevant information but would also improve access to more accurate resources (Ohler, 2010).  This of course will require yet a new literacy – from intelligent tagging to grouping intelligently tagged information into ontologies to using shared ontologies and databases.  What this means is as our multiliteracy improves, we will not only be more interconnected and able to make more informed searches, we will develop our ability to create resources that connect more coherently to the greater world of information (Ohler, 2010).


Alexander, B. (2008).  Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies.  Theory into practice. 47(2), 150-60.  Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume41/Web20ANewWaveofInnovationforTe/158042.

Alexander, B. (2006).  Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?  Educase Review, 41(2), 34-44.  Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0621.pdf.

Dobson, T & Willinsky, J. (2009).  Digital Literacy (draft version of a chapter for the Cambridge Handbook on Literacy).   Retrieved from http://pkp.sfu.ca/files/Digital%20Literacy.pdf.

New London Group (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures.  Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.  Retrieved from http://mullins-teaching-notebook.wikispaces.com/file/view/newlondon+pedagogy+of+multiliteracies.pdf.

Ohler, J. (2010).  The power and peril of Web 3.0: It’s more than just semantics.  Learning and Learning with Technology.  ISTE. May, 2010, 14-17.  Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ886389.pdf.

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Purposefully transferring the power of Web 2.0 to the classroom

The World Wide Web has been transformed over the past two decades from an emergent environment mimicking print-based non-digital predecessors, to a living, breathing, evolving global community in which the distinction between author and audience is progressively less and less important. The Web has given way to Web 2.0, characterized by production and sharing of microcontent, small chunks of information in video, photo, graphic, or text formats which can be easily shared, combined, and re-combined with other content, and in other places. Yet as this revolution takes shape, classrooms often lie unresponsive to the shift towards collaborative, self-published, free-for-reuse content. Authors like Bryan Alexander (2006, 2008) and Terry Anderson (2008) identify some of the educationally valuable characteristics of Web 2.0, but as with many teachers and administrators, cannot agree on how to bring the valuable tools of the Internet into the classroom itself.

Web 2.0 and folksonomies
To begin with, how and when did the shift from the earlier iteration of the Web occur? According to Alexander’s 2006 article entitled Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? however, the modern Web is “emergent and historical, not a brand-new thing” (p.36). Nonetheless, it represents a radically different way of thinking, a remediation of printed materials, rather than an imitation of them, vis a vis Web 1.0.

The Internet is no longer a static repository for digital versions of print media. Now music, text, graphics, and videos can be copied, multiplied, modified, transferred and transformed at will, and with very little technical prowess. But if the bar for content production has indeed become “drastically lower” (Alexander & Levine, 2008, p. 42) and billions of users are now producing and remixing content online, shouldn’t the great Internet experiment have descended into utter, inescapable chaos by now? The answer, thankfully, is no. Instead, with the help of social media and innovative designers, the Web 2.0 population employs folksonomies, socially-generated organizational structures.
My Cyber Social Map
As small chunks of information (tweets, photos, videos, podcasts, blog posts, etc.) are produced and shared, Internet users themselves have adopted a labeling system called “tagging” as a way to categorize and define ideas and connect with others online. They employ the suggestions of social bookmarking sites like Delicious, bloggers from all over the world, and other users, most notably in the explosion of the micro-blogging site Twitter, where users label their posts by adding a “hashtag” and a word or phrase, while being able to view the “trending” topics on Twitter at the same time and adopt popular tags if they desire to join a particular conversation or movement in the “Twitterverse.”
Popular Tags Flickr

Digital Storytelling
One exceptionally varied niche in Web 2.0 culture is described by Alexander and Levine (2008), who extol the virtues of digital storytelling “using Web 2.0 tools, technologies, and strategies,” and explain how it differs from traditional storytelling (p.42). Unlike stories found in books and magazines, digital stories are designed to be interacted with, shared, and remixed. And that combination of the growing range of digital tools for production, consumption, and editing of diverse media with personal stories is an “energizing and powerful form of expression for both the creator and the audience” (Alexander & Levine, 2008, p. 46).

Digital storytelling allows the user/reader to make up their own mind about the story and characters. Lines between reality and fiction may be blurred or irrelevant, and importantly, “at any time, the audience can go out of bounds of the story to research information,” or create the story themselves based on hints or glimpses of the author’s intention (Alexander & Levine, 2008, p.47). This freedom manifests in a number of storytelling and social media sharing tools online. Alexander & Levine (2008) describe one possiblity for Web 2.0 storytelling as “instead of telling a story, we would present the evidence of that story, and let the players tell it themselves” (p.51). They reference the example I Found a Digital Camera in the Woods (The original has been removed, but a Youtube version still exists), but others even more overtly invite authors to create and re-create stories to their own liking. Notably, the website Storybird has a large library of illustrations, to which authors can freely add text to create their own narratives, poems, or reflections. This collaboration between authors who may or may not even know each other’s names is a hallmark of Web 2.0 content generation.

Applications for Education
To be familiar with Web 2.0 and its tools is a start, but how do we come to employ them in practical, effective, real-life teaching practice? In their co-written EDUCAUSE Review article from 2008, Alexander and Levine conclude by saying that “for now, perhaps the best approach for educators is simply to give Web 2.0 Storytelling a try and see what happens,” (p.56), while in the same year author Terry Anderson (2008) calls for a more measured approach to implementing digital tools in the classroom, suggesting that online learning requires its own theoretical framework. He argues that “theory allows and even forces us to see the big picture” and “to transfer experience gained in one context to new experiences and contexts” (Anderson, 2008, p. 45). His approach to implementing Web tools in the classroom is characterized by the need to “choose, adapt, perfect, through feedback, assessment, and reflection, educational activities that maximize the affordances of the Web,” an approach designed to “measure the direction and magnitude of the effect of each variable on relevant outcome variables, including learning, cost, completion, and satisfaction” (Anderson, 2008, 68).

Few would dare argue that the Internet and its wide-ranging tools for collaboration, communication, and self-expression should be cordoned off from formal education environments, but unless we examine the benefits of these tools in terms of the overall benefit for learning and achievement of desired outcomes prior to embarking on a Web 2.0 adventure, we may miss the opportunity being presented to us altogether.


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

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

Alexander, B & Levine, A. (2008) Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre, EDUCAUSE Review, 43(6) p.41-56

Anderson, T. (2008). Towards a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed., pp. 45-74).

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Ebook: Redefining Reading and Learning

The Advent of the eBook: Redefining the way we read and learn


The Introduction

The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the e-book as “an electronic version of a printed book; but e-books can and do exist without any printed equivalent. E-books are usually read on hardwaredevices known as e-Readers or e-book devices. Personal computers and some mobile phones can also be used to read e-books. The advent of the eBook has been creating a number of jitters and concerns in the education and print publishing sectors. The main reason for this is that uncertainty looms as it relates to the survival of traditional paperback books, and also if and how eBooks will transform the reading experiences of readers of all ages. As a result, a frantic drive is underway to fully explore this new reading technology and getting persons to buy into its features and innovativeness.


The Journey Begins

The first ebook was established in July 1971, as eText #1 of Project Gutenberg, a visionary project launched by Michael Hart to create electronic versions of literary works and disseminate them worldwide ( Lebert, 2009). As time passes on the project expands and new tasks taken on. The project got a major head-start with the invention of the web in 1990 and tapped it off with the creation of Distributed Proofreaders in 2000. This was done to digitize books from public domain. Project Gutenberg had a production rate of 340 new books for each month, 40 mirror sites worldwide and tens of thousands of books being downloaded everyday in 2008 ( Lebert, 2009). Even though publishers were very tentative to be the first to venture in the territory of the unknown, a new sense of boldness was later developed by the US National Academy Press in 1994. They were the first to post full text of some books for free after the authors have consented. They were eventually followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995. However, digital and traditional publishing became complementary as it was now obvious that both have their respective feel and audience. With the rate at which technology is advancing and more persons doing things the digital way, is it only a matter of time before paperback become extinct? Or will it stand the test of time and technology?


Digital Publishers: Taking the risk

With the passage of time and the enhanced trust in technology and its security, more publishers gained confidence and as a result went mainstream with their publishing. Digital publishing went mainstream in 1997 when traditional printing was disrupted for the first time by new photo composition machines. In addition, digital publishing accelerated the publication process and created a situation where designers, editors and all the other players involved could work on the same book. In essence, the publishing sector was now being revolutionized and paperback books were now facing a genuine competition. 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. Experts also got involved to do their analysis about how digital text and paperbacks would coexist in the same space. Their outlook was centered on the demise of the latter at the expense of the former. That forecast is still underway as we wait with abated breath to see what the future holds for this head-to-head print showdown. Skeptics are of the view that as we refashion the book through digital technology, we are diminishing the sense of closure that belonged to the codex and to print ( Bolter, 2001). This statement has some merit and will find grounds with the traditional lovers of printed texts. However, if one should reason from the point of view of the digital natives, one would realize that we now exist in a digital environment where closure is secondary or non-existent. The introduction of hypertext has paved the way for continuity especially when wikis, blogs and other web applications and digital text are analyzed. I do endorse this continuity as I think that a discussion or a piece of writing is never yet complete as there is always something to be added. In essence, digital text has lifted the restrictions on print and have demonstrated that a book can be extended beyond its physical covers.


Why eBooks?

One should be cognizant that the eBook concept was not born out of the creators ingenuity; but can be seen as the refashioning of the printed text and imitation to a great extent. Simply put, the paperback is being used as the springboard for this venture and should not be factored out of the equation. According to Bolter (2001), eBook appropriates and refashion many of the physical properties as well as the interface of a traditional book. This remediation of print however has extended the reader’s reading experience; making a clear distinction between the two print rivals. Through this innovation, it offers what can be construed as a more immediate, complete or authentic reading experience as regular text is transformed into hypertext in which the reader can search for the occurrence of words and phrases throughout the text so that it becomes immediately available to the reader in a way printed book is not (Bolter, 2001). I am really fascinated by this immediateness and extension of the text. This doesn’t only present the reader with vicarious experiences but also present actual graphics to go with the imagination especially if the reader wants to explore the character beyond what is presented in the text. Coupled with that feel and feature, the eBook is not about a single text, but rather a library of texts in the palm of your hand. Even though this might be hard to assimilate when one considers that it is a burden to walk around with more than four major text books, eBook has transcends that boundary. The eBook is designed to be reloaded and therefore it is connected to a growing world of materials online which takes the reader into the information hub; cyberspace, which prevents it from being a stand-alone device, but a portal ( Bolter, 2001).


Ebooks clearly have many features over its paperback counterpart and with the continued advancement in technology, the margin continues to widen considerably. Users are privy to control the look and feel of the eBook by changing the text, writing and saving notes, highlighting text, bookmarking pages, interactive dictionaries, navigation system to remember where the reader last stopped and adding drawings. Therefore, eBook and its amazing features doesn’t only help the reader to have a better reading experience but also help with their physical wellbeing. On a regular basis, I see kindergarten and primary grades students struggling with bags of massive backpacks. I have even seen cases where these heavy packs have transformed their body formation and the manner in which they walk. Recent studies have shown that the average middle schooler’s backpack weighs over 20 pounds (Petracco, 2001), and many students with physical impairments are unable to carry that amount around. Therefore, the ability to carry books, references, notes and other resources electronically allows users to make better use of the information, along with the additional just-in-time learning advantages of options like the interactive dictionaries ( Cavanaugh, 2001).


Ebook and reading enhancement in the gifted and struggling reader

The gifted learner and reader

Despite the excitement and intrigue surrounding the eBook concept, my main interest lies within its capabilities to enhance reading in both struggling and gifted readers. I am a teacher of reading and for years have been working with paperbacks in my reading program. Even though I have been seeing positive results in my school district, the national results are not that convincing. This led me to consider if a more innovative version of the reading materials used across the island would make a difference. Gifted readers often read earlier than the typical student and tend to read independently soon after teacher instruction. They also tend to be better readers, requiring less drill for mastery of skills (Halsted, 1990). It is very interesting that the gifted reader is not considered many classrooms as in many situations attention is only given to the struggling readers. Often times they are left on their own instead of a structured framework to guide and develop their reading potential. However, there is no doubt that gifted students can benefit from the wide array of tools afforded by eBook. Clark (1983) identifies cognitive needs that differentiate gifted children from others. Through eBook, these can be met if the correct procedures are followed. According to Weber, etal ( 2006), access to a wide variety of eBooks encourages exposure to new and challenging information, varied subjects, areas of interest, and difficult vocabulary and concepts. Ebook definitely provides such a platform where this reader can independently explore the varied content to locate materials that will challenge his/her abilities. The regular classroom library sometimes doesn’t cater to these students needs and as a result, they find themselves delving in materials that are below their level. This may lead to frustration and boredom and also a lack of interest in classroom activities. Gifted readers may be in jeopardy of losing sight of their schools as the place to find challenging books because they don’t find and interact with appropriate materials (Brown & Rogan, 1983). As a result, these electronic forms of books and libraries are expanding opportunities for students to have access to books. Using these resources, a reader can often find related titles, such as other books in a series or by the same author, which may not be available at either the school orlocal public library (Weber, etal, 2006). This resonates with me and the situation in my country. As it relates to resources in my country, shortage is a major problem and as a result we have to be reusing the limited books and materials we have. In doing so, we are not able to extend our students beyond the physical libraries. With the integration of eBooks in our program, students will no longer be deprived of information but would rather be given the opportunities to follow up on projects and even conduct their personal research.

In addition, eBooks also cater to the gifted students who are underachieving. This is usually a critical issue in the classrooms as on some occasions, teachers and institutions are clueless as it relates to facilitating the gifted students. This usually led to these learners being suppressed and frustrated as their needs and abilities are not catered to. It is estimated that between 20–50% of gifted students underachieve (Ford & Thomas, n.d.). Ebooks can be helpful to these students for a number of reasons, which include motivating approaches. West-Christy (2003) suggests five useful scaffolding techniques that eBooks provide for readers who might be reluctant or remedial. These five techniques are:

offer a wide range of reading materials,

use prereading techniques,

incorporate large print materials,

engage multiple modalities, and

teach important vocabulary.

These supporting techniques are integrated into most eBook programs and therefore can provide additional books for students to increase the range of the reading materials. With features to increase font size, read-aloud feature with synchronizing highlighting to engage reading in multiple modalities and interactive diction, eBooks can motivate underachievers to read more and broaden their respective vocabularies.


The struggling learner and reader

Even though it is always important to cater to all learners, there is no doubt that the struggling readers are always the greatest concern of all reading programs. The aim is always to get these readers to a level where they can gain mastery and be competent at grade level or above. The global literacy rate is not where we would like it to be and stakeholders are very concerned in my country, Jamaica. Several studies are now currently underway to come up with solutions to fix this problem. To combat this problem, eBook developers have added features to their devices that will improve the reading levels of struggling readers. Taking the lead role in this drive is Amazon’s Kindle eBook developers. First, the large selection of books on Amazon has been a major factor in motivating struggling students to read. They are no longer confined to to solely choose from the physical library but now have 690, 355 ebooks as of September 3, 2010 from which to choose. This easy access to books is essential in moving students past the basics (Krashen, 2006). Struggling readers usually shy away from reading because their interests are not considered in the classrooms and they sometimes given materials that are of interest to the teachers instead. According to Schoenbach; et al. (1999), recognizing what one likes to read is the first step toward becoming an experienced and, eventually, a lifelong reader. To foster students’ interest, the Amazon Kindle organizes eBooks into 24 categories and subcategories. For example if a student is interested in basketball he would choose the sport category after which he or she will choose from the subcategory of college, general or professional. Coupled with the other aforementioned features, it has been seen that struggling readers are benefiting tremendously from exposure to eBooks. Majority of students who use the text to speech feature claim that it helps them understand what they are reading better because they can hear the text while seeing it. In addition, they claim that the text to speech feature and built-in dictionary aid with their vocabulary development (Engel-Unruh, 2010). With these great testimonies and more innovations in the pipeline, the future of global literacy is looking rather promising. After struggling with an age-old reading problem for many decades, is eBook shaping up to be the revolutionary agent or game-changer in global literacy?




Bolter. J.D. (2001). Writing Spaces. Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Routledge:

New York.

Brown, W., & Rogan, J. (1983). Reading and young gifted children. Roeper Review, 5, 6–9.


Cavanaugh, T. (2002). Ebooks and Accommodation: Is this the Future of Print Accommodation?

Journal of Teaching Exceptional Children. 35(2) pp.56-61.


Clark, B. (1983). Growing up gifted. Columbus, OH: Merrill.


Engel-Unruh, M. (2010). Tchnology Connection: ReKindling an Interest in Reading with At-Risk

Students. Pennsylvania: Library Media Connection.


Ford, D. Y., & Thomas, A. (n.d.). Underachievement among gifted minority students: Problems and promises. Retrieved July 10, 2005, from http://library.adoption.com/Childhood-Learning-and-Education/Underachievement-Among-Gifted-Minority-Students-Problems and-Promises/article/927/1.html


Halsted, J. W. (1990). Guiding the gifted reader. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. E481).

Retrieved June 15, 2005, from http://www.eric.ed.gov


Krashen, S. (2006). Free Reading. School Library Journal. Retrieved May 28, 2010 from



Lebert, M. (2009). A Short History of eBooks. Toronto: NEF, University of Toronto.


Petracco, P. (2001). Weighing in on Backpacks. School Leader Info Link. Retrieved November 17,

2011 from http://www.njsba.org/members_only/publications/school_leader/May-June-



Schoenbach, R. et al (1999). Reading for Understanding: A Guide to Improving Reading in Middle and

High School Classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Weber, C., Cavanaugh, T. (2006). Using eBooks With Gifted and Advanced Readers. Journal of Gifted

Child Today. 29(4) pp. 56-63.


West-Christy, J. (2003). Helping remedial and reluctant readers. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from



Whitmore, J. (1980). Giftedness, conflict, and underachievement. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.



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Major Project – Social Media

What is Social Media?
Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein (2010) define social media as a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Social media take on many different forms including: magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, micro-blogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. Social Media is used by individual, businesses, educators, institutions, journalist, special interest groups; essentially anyone on the internet that has information to share and has internet access available to them. With Hypertext being the “remediation of print” (Bolter, 2001, p.42) and the notion that readers fashion their knowledge, from information supplied by the makers of the site (Kress, 2004), social media sites plays a role in the information creation moving from website hosts to the web users. This empowers the reader like never before in the history of text; readers can create, modify and reply to text on a social media site. To use social media sites, users must be digitally literate to fully appreciate and participate in the vast information sharing/creating sessions that social media offers.

Social Media and Digital Literacy
Digital Literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools. It is the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers. The concept of literacy goes beyond simply being able to read; it has always meant the ability to read with meaning. Digital literacy requires the ability to read images or image symbols. The ability to read images is one example of multi-literacy. Images may include and are not limited to:

  • Pictures
  • Photographs
  • Illustrations
  • Charts
  • Icons
  • Graphs
  • Logos
  • Digital art
  • Digital icons
  • Music and Sound
  • Emoticons
  • Pictorial symbols
  • Video images, still or moving

Digital literacy also assumes visual literacy and entails the user have both the ability to comprehend what is represented and the ability to comprehend the internal logics and encoding schemes of that representation” (Dobson & Willinsky, 2009, p. 16).

  • dynamic and evolving
  • communal and social
  • to have access to vast amounts of knowledge
  • user as both consumers and (co)-creators of content and knowledge
  • facilitate global interconnections and inter-cultural exchange
  • assumes cultural access to the conventions of digital literacy – languages and visual conventions, traditionally Western, predominantly

Therefore, social media plays a pivotal role in enabling users to become digitally multi-literate. Most sites feature a combination of the above mentioned features on their sites and users have to know how to navigate through different forms of hypertext and images to fully appreciate the social media sites. Social software constitutes a fairly substantial answer to the question of how digital literacy differs from and extends the work of print literacy. It speaks to how people’s literacy combines the taking in and giving back of words (Dobson and Willinsky, 2009, p. 21).

In striving for to become multi-literate, individuals are provided access to the evolving language of work, power, and community, thus facilitating their critical engagement necessary to design their social futures and achieve success through fulfilling employment” (New London Group, 1996,p. 1). It should be understood that these representations of language & communication are increasingly digital and of varying degrees of formality. The ability to examine and functionally process information derived across various modes of representation, including:

  • text (traditional literary forms)
  • the visual (graphics, images)
  • the auditory (sounds, including music)
  • the gestural (ie. body language)
  • the spatial (layouts, graphic orientations)
  • multi-modal (interactions between these)

Thus, enabling us to make meaning at work, in public, and at home.

Social media has changed literacy and the way that information is created, shared and displayed forever. Where it leads us from here is anyone’s guess? The one thing we can be pretty sure of at this point is that social media is not just a phase, and likely won’t go away any time soon…………………at least until something better comes along.

History of Social Media


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, Retrieved from http://pkp.sfu.ca/files/Digital%20Literacy.pdf

Kaplan, Andreas M.; Michael Haenlein (2010). “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”. Business Horizons 53 (1): 59–68.doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003. ISSN 0007-6813. Retrieved 2011-11-22.

Kress, G., Van Leeuwen, T. (2001). Multimodal Discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. New York: Oxford University Press.

New London Group (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1). http://newlearningonline.com/~newlearn/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/multiliteracies_her_vol_66_1996.pdf

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The Development of the Electronic Book

***This is a second draft of this commentary.  I frustratingly lost my first one after it was done and this is my attempt to reconstitute it from memory!

The Kindle, the Nook, the Bebook.  These are but three examples of the growing number of e-reader devices now available.  The proliferation of ebooks has paralleled the broader expansion of digital technologies.  The movement of text from the printed word to the digital word has portend a number of changes not simply in the way we view text, but also in the way interpret and understand it.  The development of the electronic book can best be contextualized by discussing the greater remediation of the written word.

In his 2001 work, Writing Space, Jay Bolter discusses in detail this remediation of the printed word, asserting that the creation of and presentation of hypertextual structures constitute a new form of writing and, moreover, reconstitute our understanding of existing text concepts (Bolter, 2004).  Firstly, the writing process of editing, storing and manipulating text was transformed by the digital word.  Extensive sources of knowledge could be accessed electronically and incorporated into the planning and drafting of documents (Heim, 1987, pp. 1-2).  Secondly, not only was the act of writing transformed substantially, but so was the way in which writing was shared.  Text which historically had been placed on scrolls or printed pages could now be found on webpages.  Indeed the concept of ‘scrolling’ and the turning of virtual webpages on e-reader devices links together historical practices with ways in which digital text is manipulated today.

The collection and condensing of vast amounts of textual information has also undergone a transformation with the advent of the digital word.  Traditionally, the library has been a place where the community stores and retrieves shared text from.  The utility of remotely accessing electronic versions of this information has proven far more convenient than the local neighborhood book repository.  Moreover, digitization of text allows a much larger community, including those who do not live within physical proximity, to access the information.  The encyclopedia, similarly, has been the traditional means by which general knowledge and specific fields of knowledge have been indexed.  As the detail of this knowledge has grown it has become impractical to house it on sheets of paper.  Enter the advent of hypermedia and the convenience of digitally stored text which allows multiple volumes to be contained on a single microchip.  The greatest example of the online encyclopedia is the popular Wikipedia.  Traditional encyclopedia’s required printed updates at regular intervals coordinated by managing editors.  Wikipedia harnesses the power of the ‘crowd’ by encouraging amateur editors and field experts alike to edit its content at any time.  This production of digital content by the same people who consume it is yet another example of the benefits of electronic text.

Flash forward from the infancy of digital text and the benefits seen in the collection and condensing of textual information can now similarly be viewed in today’s e-readers.  One of the first popular e-books was the Rocket E-Book.  A simple device with a bright, small display initially enticed consumers because readers could download their text and read them offline (Bidgoli, 2004).  The portability traditionally offered by a paperback remained, but now, as was illustrated with the digitization of the encyclopedia, a consumer could simply download multiple volumes on a single reader.  This is often the most cited benefit of an e-reader as the download saves the consumer the time of going to the store, and also the space needed to store multiple paperback volumes.  Bolter (2001) describes what he feels is one of the most useful features of digital readers when highlighting the ability to search for words and phrases within the text.  In this regard an entire text becomes “immediately available to the reader in a way a printed book is not.” (Bolter, 2001, p,80).  The utility of an e-reader, however, has gone beyond even what Bolter had been writing about in 2001.  Now the ability to manipulate font size, backlighting and the addition of interactive media windows in the body of a text make a e-reader more functional and enjoyable than ever.

There are, however, also some drawbacks to the use of e-readers.  Firstly, they rely on battery power, which immediately suggests that at some point the battery will run out.  This obviously limits its portability to an extent.  Secondly, e-readers are uniformly more expensive than traditional paper books meaning they can be costly to replace if broken.   Thirdly, viewing a glowing screen for extended periods of time has been shown to cause eye strain and headaches (Sheehy, 2011).  Even worse, those who tend to use their e-readers regularly before bed can have their sleep habits affected (Milian, 2010).

It is clearly evident that the popularity ebooks is growing.  The shift from the printed word to the digital word has been accompanied by a number of changes – many for the better.  By contextualizing the development of the e-book against the greater remediation of the printed word, we now better understand its evolution and current utility.  A final observation from Bolter is that despite the fact we appear in a transition from print to electronic writing, both of these mediums still need each other.  “Print forms the tradition on which electronic writing depends, and electronic writing is that which goes beyond print. Print now depends on the electronic too, in the sense that printed materials find it necessary to compete against digital technologies in order to hold their readers. (Bolter, 2001, p. 46)  The question now is, will print continue to hold an audience, or will they too be converted to the digital word?



Bidgoli, H. (2004). The Internet Encyclopedia. John Wiley and Sons. p. 790.

Bolter, J. D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Second Edition. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Heim, M. (1987). Electric Language: A philosophical study of word processing. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Kress, G. (2005). “Gains and Losses: New Forms of Text, Knowledge, and Learning.” Computers and Composition: 22, pp. 5-22.

Milian, M.  Reading on iPad before bed can affect sleep habits. (2010, April 24) LA Times http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/04/ipad-kindle-ebook-sleep.html (Retrieved Nov. 24, 2011)

Sheehy, K.  Digital Education Shifts Strain from Shoulders to Eyes. (2011, November 15) U.S. Newshttp://education.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2011/11/15/digital-education-shifts-strain-from-shoulders-to-eyes (Retrieved Nov. 24, 2011)

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Web 2.0 tools

I toy with web 2.0 tools daily for class and fun. I use toodoo for writing creative pieces as can be seen below.

Also, I use wordpress for class everyday and is enjoying the experience. Here’s a screenshot and link to my WP blog.


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Web 2.0 and cultural transformations

Today learners use words in different formats (e.g., on paper, images, audio files, weblogs, video editors, web editors, presentation software, instant messaging etc). All these formats can be integrated within one product when users interact through Web 2.0. According to Alexander (2008), Web 2.0 is a way of creating web pages based on microcontent and social connections between people.

Learners increasingly use Web 2.0 and develop new structures of mind and literacies. For this reason, educators are exploring and developing new ways of teaching (Alexander, 2008, p. 151). However, K-12 institutions are often behind the evolution and management of Web 2.0. Alexander exemplifies this by representing how the current classrooms are constructed physically and socially along decades old patterns (Alexander, 2008, p. 152). Sir Ken Robinson (2011) and Marc Prensky (2001) sustain that we must redefine the way in which we think about and we practice education, in order to promote in our students creativity and allow them to develop the skills and values that they will need in the future. According to Prensky we should ask ourselves how to approach to the current languages and needs of students by implementing and old curriculum. Prensky argues that we need to come close to ours students’ forms of communication in order to engage them with learning. If we are teaching based on outdated methods we are not considering our students’ learning needs. Probably our learning outcomes will not be achieved.

Web 2.0 is one example of how we can approach to our students needs. According to Alexander (2008) Web 2.0 is composed of:

  1. Social software and social networking (e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasting, and videoblogs).
  2. Microcontent: small content that does not require a great effort from users to deliver (e.g. building a page layout, designing menus or developing a look and feel).
  3. Social filtering.: multiple-authored works, social connection, openness and combination of microcontent into another.

Alexander presents some examples of Web 2.0 (e.g. Social Bookmarking, and CMS) in order to illustrate its pedagogical potentials and possible disadvantages. According to Alexander, one of the major effects of Web 2.0 is that learners are developing dual digital literacies. Some authors speak of digital literacy or multiliteracies (NLG, 1996). Indeed today students (digital natives of Marc Prensky) are developing new ways of communicating, viewing and understanding the world. New London Group (NLG, 1996) claims that youngsters have developed new designs and formats in the way of producing and sharing content: our students not only create content through text, but also do so through audio-visual components. The integration of these components in consumption and distribution of content has led to the development of a new way of understanding. The latter has caused a transformation in the structure of our language to multiple forms of literacy (multiliteracies). Alexander, NLG, Prensky and Robinson encourage educators to adapt their methodologies, design and content to the way of thinking of the new “net.generation” by expanding their prior technological skills in order to address the new literacies that Web 2.0 involves, foster creativity, and guide our students in their formation for the future.

In his chapter, “Hyperlink, the instability of the text”, James O’ Donnel argues that before the relative stability of printing, texts were often labile and reliable (O’Donnel, 1999, p. 44). Text technologies have evolved in new forms of writing and reading (e.g., hypertext or electronic text). According to O’Donnel hypertext is transforming its stable nature into an instable one. The latter brings negative effects on the organization of texts, which makes more difficult to preserve information over time. Today, technologies are evolving and transforming so fast that the world “promise rapid replacement of what we have” (O’Donnel, 1999, p. 45). The abundance of word-processing formats has generated a large amount of forms of text (e.g. PDF, HTML, SGML) that represent a very different conception of how text may be arranged and designed. On his time, O’Donnel predicts the advent of Web 2.0: “Give us another generation and surely vast quantities of information will slip away from us this way”. Like any technology, Web 2.0 might bring positive and negative effects. Therefore, its use in education can offer benefits or disadvantages, depending on the way in which educators use them in their practices.

Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine (2008) argue that digital networks and social media are transforming the way in which we think about and practice storytelling. Stories now are open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable (Alexander & Levine, 2008, p. 40). According to the authors, Web 2.0 is composed of microcontent, social media and findability (ability to offer comprehensive search). Storytelling is a complex concept that can be either fiction or non-fiction.

Web 2.0 has broadened the concept of storytelling by giving to the author the power of representing multiple possibilities and formats. Within Web 2.0, there are new forms of expression that has allowed storytelling to evolve from narrating stories to consisting of practices through the Web (Alexander & Levine, 2008, p. 47). Considering this, all the interactions held through Web 2.0 are part of storytelling. The nature of this activity has transformed, which implies changes in its structure, authoring and distribution. Web 2.0 stories have placed the possibility of multi-authored content. The combination of social media and microcontent facilitates the redistribution of stories across multiple sites. Web 2.0 storytelling is a distributed art form that can range beyond the immediate control of a creator.

Web 2.0 has transformed different aspects of our culture. All authors analyzed here speak of the need to rethink the structure of our educational system in order to build an education that addresses the cultural transformations that our students have been developing. This new conception about education should move us towards creativity, autonomous learning and collaborative construction of knowledge within the integration of new technologies.


Alexander, B (2008). Web 2.0 and Emrgent Multiliteracies. Theory into Practice 47(2), 150-160. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from http://dx.dol.org/10.1080/00405840801992371

Alexander, B, Lvine, A. (2008). Web 2.0. Storytelling. Emergence of a New Genre. Educause Retrieved November 11, 2011 from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0865.pdf

NLG (1996). A pedagogy for Multiliteracies. Harvard Educational Review 66(1). 60-92

O’Donnel, J (1999). Hyperlink, the instability of the text. In: Avatars of the word. From Papyrus to Cyberspace. Cambrdige: Harvard University Press. 44-49.

Prensky, M (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon 9(5). 1-6.

Robinson, S.K. (2011). Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. West Sussex: Capstone.

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Why is richer hypertext not a reality on the web?


It is clear that the World Wide Web and Hypertext has its roots in several pursuits most notably those outlined by H. G. Wells (1938), Vannevar Bush (1945), Joseph Licklider (1960, 1963), Theodore Nelson (1963, 1999) and Douglas Englebart (1965).  However, it is also clear that the original visions of how the world’s information might be organized and communicated electronically via hypertext still have not materialized (see Nielsen, 1995, for a brief history of hypertext ideas and developments from Bush to the early WWW).  For example, Bush proposed associative knowledge trails by way of his memex machine (1945).  Nelson proposed hypermedia unified by transclusion (1995, 1999) by way of his xanalogical structures. However, the state of current hypertext on the WWW does not include the affordances required in either of these visions.  Why?

This project is my attempt to answer this question.  This pursuit began with developing an understanding of the history of how various hypertext ideas and systems were developed.  That was accomplished via a review of the literature cited in the previous paragraph.  Then, in order to better understand Bush’s specific vision of associative knowledge trails and side trails, I decided to create some myself that took advantage of current affordances but still attempted to maintain Bush’s original vision.

After the literature review and associative knowledge trail learning activity, I felt I had enough information to create a hypothesis to explain why the more complex hypertext systems posited by Bush and Nelson are not commonplace now. I make conclusions and suggestions for further research and inquiry.

Literature Review

The associative knowledge trail entitled Roots of Hypertext (described below) is the container for my literature review.  I think it successfully captures not only the literature reviewed for this project but also the connections between resources that I made while reviewing them.

My Process of Creating Associative Knowledge Trails

Bush (1945) envisioned a system whereby the user creates trails and side trails connected to a particular interest.  As described, it would appear to be a linear progression of resource associations with the occasional tangential side trail stemming from the main trail and the occasional annotation added by the author of the trail.


The first step was to decide upon a digital container for my associative knowledge trail (which I acronymed AKT in my notes).  I evaluated different online platforms to ensure that the affordances I needed were included.  Here is the list of the affordances I was looking for:

  • hyperlinks can be created to online and offline content
  • a method for containing the structure of the trail itself (e.g., timelines, flowchart, arrows, etc.)
  • image and text objects can be embedded
  • a method for logically showing and presenting side trails is included
  • a quick and easy method for adding annotations
  • generally, app must be is easy to use, and quick to develop the trail
  • a method by which the trail can be shared online

I assessed ShiftSpace, online visual timeline creators (the best of which was Capzles), CoKnown, bubbl.us, VoiceThread, and Prezi. I also looked at local computer applications such as SMART Ideas, SMART notebook and Microsoft PowerPoint.

As much as I wanted an online, Web 2.0 app that I could share as part of this project, none of the online tools I examined provided me with all of the affordances in my list. Capzles came the closest but it did not have the ability to create links to online documents or video (all multimedia content in Capzles had to be uploaded).  I decided to use SMART Ideas.  This program can export all layers as HTML so it was possible to share my work online without the need for the original application.

The next step was to begin the creation of my AKT and keep a record of my reflections as I created it.  I decided to create an associative knowledge trail entitled Roots of Hypertext.  (If you have SMART Ideas installed, here is the original IPR file.) I also wanted the AKT to serve as my literature review.  I gave myself a limit of three evenings to create my the AKT. This included reading and reviewing resources and integrating them into the trail.  In the process, I reflected upon a number of ideas and issues that arose during the activity.

Summary of Reflections
(See Appendix I for all reflective notes)

I learned very quickly that my AKT was not going to look linear.  The more resources I connected to the AKT, the more interconnections I saw, and the more connections I tried to make.  Secondly, as the connections and layers grew, the AKT started looking more like a concept map than a knowledge trail. I started to categorize resources and colour-code them. I tried to make the AKT as visual as possible; a text based trail would have worked but I wanted to take advantage of visual affordances so that the AKT was more usable to me and welcoming to others. I also started to experience diminishing returns; as I added more resources to the AKT, it took longer and longer for me to make the connections between the existing trail and the new resource to my satisfaction.

If I continued with my SMART Ideas-based AKT, I envisioned that it would develop into a hierarchical organization of resources.  This notion quickly reminded me of early attempts to organize all the information on the WWW on websites such as Yahoo and dmoz.  These early efforts resulted in hierarchical categories of information.  This sort of organization worked until there was too much information in the structure. Once the amount of content online became too great, hierarchical indexes of that information were impractical.  Search engines such as AltaVista, OpenText, and Hotbot started to become popular because they pointed users to the information they were looking for very quickly. Google eventually perfected the search engine tool.

I considered my initial AKT creation activity using SMART Ideas to be a failure.  I could not create an associative knowledge trail in the way that Bush had outlined.  Nevertheless, I decided to try again and try harder to break away as much as possible from the concept map affordances of SMART Ideas, and really try to create a trail of knowledge with side trails created as needed.

For my second attempt, I did two things differently. First, I started with a brand new topic that I knew very little about and formulated an inquiry question rather than just a topic declaration.  I have recently revived an old interest in electronics, so I decided to ask: How do AM radios work? (If you have SMART Ideas installed, here is the original IPR file.) Second, I decided to use of the layering feature as the method for my trail.  That is, instead of trying to visually capture my trail on a single page, as I did in my first attempt (with side trails being the layers), my second attempt would use a different layer for each new associative resource.  So, the path of my trail will travel through layers in SMART Ideas, not follow connecting arrows between symbols.


My hypothesis is an attempt to explain why more complex hypertext affordances have not been made part of the current web.  My hypothesis is:

Information shared for consumption on the web must be organized in such a way that ensures the greatest accessibility and usability for the end user. If it is not, then the information will be largely ignored.

Hypertext, as it is used currently in digital documents, associates information that is related but does not make impositions on that information.  The associative knowledge trail of Bush (1945) and the xanalogical structure Nelson (1999) proposes encumber the information they seek to present with an idiosyncratic or a needlessly complex organization.

Usability research examining hypertext on the web would seem to support this hypothesis.  Jakob Nielsen (1989) concluded that “there is little hope for a single, universal hypertext user interface design which will be optimal to everybody” (p. 246).  This would suggest that due to the varying needs of end users, the simplest hypertext interface will probably be the one adopted and used by the masses. Additionally, Nielsen’s central hypothesis in Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity (2000) is that simplicity ensures usability.  In his characterization of the end user, he reveals what he believes is the underlying rationale for this goal: “People are extremely goal-driven on the Web. They have something specific they want to do, and they don’t tolerate anything standing between them and their goal.” (p. 380)

In the case of the associative knowledge trails, this form of presentation reduces the accessibility of the information because it tends to impose another individual’s personal organization of the information, one that is tied that person’s own abstract knowledge structures.  My attempts at creating associative knowledge trails were not that personal because I could not push from my mind that reality that other people would be seeing it and using it.  Perhaps, I am so firmly entrenched in the current social media ethos that I cannot create a truly personal knowledge trail.


A simple hypertext system facilitates web page usability for users. It would seem that any attempt at remediating hypertext systems to capture deeper associations or transclusions, will not be embraced by the populace as a viable information system because these knowledge associations are idiosyncratic and threaten simplicity of design.

The learning activities and literature review in this project have led me to propose this hypothesis.  A direction for future research would be to test it directly with end users as subjects.  Perhaps an experiment could be designed in which the information content is controlled but presented using different complexities of hypertext and differing levels of idiosyncratic organization of the knowledge.  Subjects could be given a task whereby online information must be collected for some purpose.  Time to complete the task, keyboard and mouse logs, and personal ratings/reflections/interviews could be potential data vectors for the study.

Appendix I

Reflections on creating an associative knowledge trails (AKT) for hypertext in SMART Ideas:

  • My choice of hypertext was perhaps too complicated.  There is too much information to be comprehensive.  My AKT is, therefore, very selective and arbitrary and quite personalized as it reflects my own choices of resources used to understand the topic.
    • Perhaps AKTs to be useful need to be highly focused, specific rather than broad.
    • Perhaps the reason hypertext has been the most successful remediation, above AKT or
  • The ability to add visual information, while more attractive to the eye and easier on the brain in terms of helping me to quickly know which resource was which, it took more time to add those visuals
  • I began to colour code my entries and made a legend.  I quickly realized that I could not continue very far with the method as I was repeating pieces of information.  Bush’s original idea of an AKT is far more linear but SMART ideas, with connections and multiple layers, surely has affordances built in to allow for a greater complexity in the knowledge trail.
  • Diminishing returns.  As I added more and more pieces to my AKT, it was taking more and more time to organize and re-organize my resources.
  • I keep thinking about my audience.  I am making this not only for my own reference but also as a reference for other people.   Can I do both?
  • Do I organize my trail as a trail of ideas, a trail of resources, or a trail of authors?
    • If I organize by ideas, my AKT becomes more of a concept map, which is fine, but not what I am looking to create
    • If I organize by resources, my AKT approaches more closely what Bush was proposing in his Atlantic Monthly article.
    • If I organize by author, it becomes more of a chronological reference list.  This was my first instinct actually.
  • Beginning to question how useful an AKT would be, if done exactly in the way Bush would have wanted it.  Bush’s AKT conception was generated within the context of information in 1945.
  • Thinking about the early days of the Web and how hierarchical indexes such as Yahoo and dmoz tried to organize all the resources online.  Once the amount of content online became too great, a hierarchical index is impractical.  Search engines such as AltaVista, Open Text, and Hotbot were early successful search engines before Google.


Bush, V. (1945). As We May Think. Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/computer/bushf.htm

Englebart, Douglas. (1963). “A conceptual framework for the augmentation of man’s intellect.” In Hawerton, P.W. and Weeks, D.C. (Eds), Vistas in information handling, Volume I: The augmentation of man’s intellect by machine. Washington, DC: Spartan Books. Retrieved from http://www.dougengelbart.org/pubs/papers/scanned/Doug_Engelbart-AugmentingHumanIntellect.pdf

Hendricks, V. (2005). Mainstream and Formal Epistemology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Licklider, J. C. R. (1960). Man-computer symbiosis. Human Factors in Electronics, IRE Transactions, 1(1), pp. 4-11. doi: 10.1109/THFE2.1960.4503259

Licklider, J. C. R. (23 April, 1963). “Topics for Discussion at the Forthcoming Meeting, Memorandum For: Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network”.  Washington, D.C.: Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved from http://www.kurzweilai.net/memorandum-for-members-and-affiliates-of-the-intergalactic-computer-network

Nielsen, J. (1989). The matters that really matter for hypertext usability. In Proceedings of Hypertext ’89, (pp. 239-248). Pittsburgh, PA: ACM.

Nielsen, J. (1995). Multimedia and hypertext: The Internet and beyond. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.

Nielsen, J. (2000). Designing web usability: The practice of simplicity. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.

Nelson, T. H. (1965). The hypertext. Proceedings of the World Documentation Federation.

Nelson, T. H. (1995). The heart of connection: hypermedia unifed by transclusion. Communications of the ACM, 38(8), 31-33.

Nelson, T. H. (1999). Xanalogical Structure, Needed Now More than Ever: Parallel Documents, Deep Links to Content, Deep Versioning, and Deep Re-Use. Computing Surveys 31(4). Retrieved from http://www.cs.brown.edu/memex/ACM_HypertextTestbed/papers/60.html

Wells, H. G. (1938). World Brain. London: Methuen.  (Also available from http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/wells/hg/world_brain/complete.html)

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So many toys, so little time…

I have used, or read about, quite a few of these tools in my MET courses and also in my teaching.  I decided to try something new and created an avatar – My digital self.  It was easy and free at:  http://home.mywebface.com/hp2/

One of the things I have done in most of my MET classes is keep track of the links that people post in the forums.  This class has been unusually productive!  I have a very long list that I decided to put into a stack on Delicious to share with you.  I guess I have remixed your excellent links and now I am sharing them with you all again. It is somewhat chronological and I’m sure I haven’t gotten quite everything.  Hope you find it useful!

ETEC 540 Delicious Stack





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Enjoying the Tools

I must say I have had little time during these weeks, but I have been having so much fun by exploring all the tools that are suggested in this forum and on the course blog. The one I most enjoyed is Tagxedo I always have used Wordle, but I think that Tagxedo gives you a wider range of options to play with and create (shapes, colors, font, background, etc.).

Here is an example:



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Rip.Mix.Feed Examples

A few examples of my favourite social media tools.  Word clouds are very popular and it seems most people prefer to use wordle.  I’ve been using Taxedo, found at http://www.tagxedo.com

Here’s an example of our “digital footprint”.  This was created using the url for this very weblog!

Prezi, the zooming presentation editor is a favourite too.  As the athletic director of my school, I just took the opportunity to combine the creating of a Prezi with the need to create a presentation for my coaches meetings.  Unfortunately I was unable to embed my finish product, but here is a link to the result!


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Wordle: Web 2.0 Tools

For most of this week, I’ve been going off-script to re-familiarize myself with many of the tools I’ve used during my MET experience, including Prezi, Google Sites, Toondoo, Animoto, and xtranormal, but I’ve also managed to explore a number of other exciting tools I intend to employ in the future including Vuvox, Linoit, Edmodo, and Glogster. What I love about many of these tools is that they can be used to construct microcontent for the web collaboratively. Google docs is a fantastic place to start with when collaboratively authoring, but sites like Linoit are also very exciting because they afford the opportunity to include video, pictures, and music alongside text; allowing students and instructors to communicate ideas in the medium they feel most comfortable.

My primary project this week was to compile a list of resources on Delicious to share with others, and to keep for myself (one of the many benefits of internet-based content creation is that both are possible simultaneously!). It certainly isn’t “finished,” but it’s at least a good start. It will serve as a resource for me when i need to give my students a new challenge or when a delivery mode for certain content is either not working properly or simply needs refreshing. I expect this list of mine to evolve as well, considering how quickly these wonderful (and free!) sites pop up, I plan to keep my eyes peeled for other useful resources on the horizon, and add them to my bookmarks as I go.

You can view my Web 2.0 essential tools Delicious stack by following the link. The Wordle I’ve created above highlights the tools and various tags associated with them for quick reference. I hope everyone had as much fun playing working with Web 2.0 tools as I did this week :)


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Rip, Mix, Feed: Xtranormal

I was helping a colleague of mine create a story of the Declaration of Independence; George Washington and Thomas Jefferson discuss some issues about why the Americas succeeded from Britain.  He wanted me to show him how to create stories for his class using alternative methods and this is what we came up with:

He is going to have his students created their own story to share with the class and a variety of topics.  A way to deliver information that is different from the stand and deliver method as well as making the topics student-drected.  Students are frustrated with the status quo learning environment and this was seen at Harvard where dissatisfied students created their own computer system (Lamb, 2007).  Using a web tool such as, Xtranormal allows the teacher to deviate from the status quo of “stand-and-deliver” to allow students to take control of their own learning whilst still achieving the learning outcome requirements.  I found that Xtranormal is very good for doing a monologue or a dialogue where text based information is delivered through a movie; “Our revolutionary approach to movie-making builds on an almost universally held skill—typing. You type something; we turn it into a movie, on the web and on the desktop.” (Xtranormal, 2011).  The limitations of Xtranormal is it’s not very useful other than a brief storytelling; there is only one scene, the actions of the characters are limited and the story has to remain short (under 3 minutes) or users have to pay for the additional features.


Lamb, B. (2007). Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 4 (July/August 2007): 12–25.  Accessed online Nov 21 2011

Xtranormal (2011). Home page. Accessed Online Nov 21st, 2011, fromhttp://www.xtranormal.com


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Rip, Mix, Feed: Interactive tag clouds of course articles

Here are some interactive tag clouds from some of the readings in ETEC 540.  You can click on any word to open a new window and search Google on that term.

(Note:  I could not embed the interactive version of the tag cloud in our blog so you will need to click on the tag cloud image to load the interactive version.)

As We May Think by Vannevar Bush (1945)

Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge and learning by Gunter Kress (2005)

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Animoto, Prezi & coming soon…

Here is a link to my Animoto story documenting some of the early provincial government efforts to protect against what would turn into a 1 in 300 year flood.

Also, here is a link to my Prezi for Assignment 3. I am continuing to work on a concept map that will be published with my final project!

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Inspired by George Siemens who has recently visited Croatia

Here is the result of my experiments with Diigo WebSlides:


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Glogster with Animoto

Click on the picture to link to the multimedia site. Continue reading

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Successful Movie Making

Here is the movie version of the Powerpoint I shared in SlideShare earlier. I was trying to link via Vista but it was acting up. I have also embedded it on my class blog for my students.

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Web 2.0 Tools – Voki

I have really enjoyed working with Web 2.0 tools throughout my MET experience.

I have decided to make an avatar through Voki to express what Web 2.0 tools have done for me. They seem daunting at first, but you will soon find that most applications are quite user-friendly.

I could not get it to embed in WordPress for some reason so will have to link to it.


Voki Avatar


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