Mulitmodal Literacy and Week 3 lecture

In day-to-day discussion, literacy is typically placed into a category of recognizing written language, comprehension and application.  However, once a person begins the long journey into academic papers regarding literacy, this topic ceases to be so cut and dry especially when a descriptor gets tagged to the front of literacy.  I had some experience with this in my undergraduate when I studied media literacy.  Due to this background in another form of literacy, I wanted to see how (or if) the literature cover an intersection between information and media literacy.

Think Global, Act Local: Expanding the Agenda for Media Literacy Education in the United States” by Vanessa Domine was the first article with which I started my search.  In this article, Domine wants to connect the global push for information literacy to the US’s drive to incorporate media literacy into American education system.  Through this connection she wants to show that these two areas do not need to compete for educational funding, but rather should be something that is cooperatively funded. She highlights the common area that information and media literacy (as defined by multiple organizations such as ALA, UNESCO, and the US government) occupy like evaluating and using information.  In addition, both stress the importance of asking critical questions.  She argues that “information and media literacies are members of the same family rather than competitors.” (443)  Some aspects of the article that I found thought provoking was the idea that the US government seems to be reacting to trends in the world and technology rather than being proactive in preparing future generations.  A good example of this was the recent addendum by the FCC to approve changes in funding that allow schools to provide Internet access to the community outside classroom hours (446).  This realization that students might need access to Internet and technology outside of the classroom seems rather obvious. 
I also agree with Domine’s insistence on how intertwined media literacy and information literacy are in today’s world.  Users that are able to critically question the medium and the content will be more prepared to act as global citizens.

This idea of the inter-connectivity between media and information literacy is don’t Domine’s idea alone.  In “The Media and the Literacies: Media Literacy, Information Literacy, Digital Literacy” by Tibor Koltay, this idea is explored with further depth.  He believes that due to the changes in how our world displays, disseminates, and uses information users need to be able to employ a multitude of literacy skills. In addition, Koltay believes that there is not a single literacy that supplies every user with the skills for lifelong learning, so we should be preparing users by educating them in a multimodal literacy.

“The virtual world that produces this information does not sit ‘out there’, but invades the ‘real’ world.  What is digital, nonetheless, is subject to human agency and to human understanding.  Technology is just a tool, which does not determine how we mush act.” (1)

Something that struck me about Koltay’s article was just how many different definitions of the different literacies exist.  He spends a good portion of the article showing the how different organizations (such as European Commission and the Ontario AML) define one type of literacy (e.g. media literacy).  it is no wonder we cannot agree on how to teach media literacy if we cannot even agree on what it is.

The last article that I read was danah boyd’s “Streams of Content, Limited Attention:  the Flow of Information through Social Media.”  In this article, boyd makes a strong argument for a mixed method of literacy education by using the metaphor of a stream or river of information.  If we do not prepare ourselves and our children for this “flow” of information we will become overwhelmed, tuned out, or left-behind.

“The goals is not to be a passive consumer of information or to simply tune in when the time is right, but rather to be attentive to the world where information is everywhere.  To be peripherally aware of information as it flows by, grabbing it at the right moment when it is most relevant, valuable, entertaining, or insightful.  To be living with, in, and around information.” (28)

I really enjoyed this metaphor and think that it works well with how information works today.  Boyd argues that today we are in an era of networked  media, this network feeds the river with constant news, stories, or references.  Throughout time people were willing to share their stories or their point of view, and now we have platforms for more to share.  However, now we have a limited amount of attention/time that we can give to the greater number of stories while maintaining their context.

“The future of Web 2.0 is about streams of content.  If we want to help people we need to help them be attentively aligned–‘in flow’–with these information streams.” (36)


Musings on Class

I enjoyed watching screencasts on YouTube and trying to discern the characteristics that made for effective & enjoyable ones versus ones that we did not connect with or were just plain rotten.  I felt that this was a fantastic way of learning the basics of the production side of screencasts.  Much better than getting a list of Do’s and Don’ts.  In addition, it raised some good questions for us to consider before starting on our own screencasts.  I hope that I was able to implement them in my own version.



About mainvils

I am a first year UMSI graduate student specializing in LIS and Preservation of Information.
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