Literacy is a big conversation. As a literacy coach, you'd think I'd be comfortable in it, but that isn't necessarily the case. For starters, you won't hear much about the complexity of literacy in the work I do with teachers. The truth is that it is tough to get people to move beyond the fundamentals of reading and writing. I say 'people' (meaning adults) because it isn't just teachers who need to take their heads out of the sand. From senior administrators to parents, some learning about what literacy was and is morphing into must happen. How does the traditional view of literacy fit into the modern classroom? What does it look like? How is it assessed?
As we move to modernize our systems and try to figure out how to use the tools of the transformative learning environment, educators will struggle with all of the explanations and taxonomies presented. This post represents my current thinking on how I can support teachers in their understanding of the transformation from the traditional literacy perspective (reading and writing) to digital literacies as Doug Belshaw
How to begin? With backward design, of course. We start where we want to be and plan backwards to where we are.
Let's start with some definitions of literacy. Then we can have a look at Doug's thinking about digital literacies. A subset of digital literacy is web literacy, so we can look at that next because it may provide us with a way to get to digital literacies. And then, I think Silvia Tolisano's work combining the SAMR model with Alan November's thinking
provides another entry point to digital literacies along side the web literacy standard.
Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society. — UNESCO
The ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities at home, at work and in the community - to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential." (*Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society: Further Results from the International Adult Literacy Survey*, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Human Resources Development Canada and the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada, 1997).
The ability to use language and images in rich and varied forms to read, write, listen, speak, view, represent, and think critically about ideas. It enables us to share information, to interact with others, and to make meaning. Literacy is a complex process that involves building on prior knowledge, culture, and
experiences in order to develop new knowledge and deeper understanding. It connects individuals and communities, and is an essential tool for personal growth and active participation in a democratic society.
--Literacy for Learning: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy for Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario (2004)
The last definition moves into more complex territory. Now we have to think critically, share, interact, and connect not just so we may communicate clearly, but because literacy "is an essential tool for personal growth and active participation in a democratic society." But this definition reflects 2004, a time pre-iPhones, and iPads, pre-Facebook and Youtube. Can these definitions support the way we can now interact in the world? In what ways does our idea of literacy have to shift?
Let's have a look at what Doug Belshaw thinks about digital literacy. From his dissertation, What is digital literacy
? Doug outlines eight (8) essential elements of digital literacy:
And from his ETMOOC presentation
, here are Doug's explanations of each of the elements:
- Cultural - “The nature of literacy in a culture is repeatedly redeﬁned as the result of technological changes.” Hannon (2000)
- Cognitive - “Functional internet literacy is not the ability to use a set of technical tools; rather, it is the ability to use a set of cognitive tools.” Johnson (2008)
- Constructive - “[Digital literacy is] the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools...in order to enable constructive social action.” DigEuLitproject (2006)
- Communicative - “Digital literacy must therefore involve a systematic awareness of how digital media are constructed and of the unique 'rhetorics' of interactive communication.” Buckingham (2007)
- Confident – “Modern society is increasingly looking to [people] who can conﬁdently solve problems and manage their own learning throughout their lives, the very qualities which ICT supremely is able to promote.” OECD (2001)
- Creative – “The creative adoption of new technology requires teachers who are willing to take risks...a prescriptive curriculum, routine practices...and a tight target-setting regime, is unlikely to be helpful.” Conlon & Simpson (2003)
- Critical - “Once we see that online texts are not exactly written or spoken, we begin to understand that cyber literacy requires a special form of critical thinking. Communication in the online world is not quite like anything else.” Gurak (2001)
- Civic - “The ability to understand and make use of ICT-digitalliteracy-is proving essential to employment success, civic participation, accessing entertainment, and education.” Mehlman (2007)
Great. 8 ways to think about digital literacy. How to do this? One way may be to use the grid below from the Mozilla Web Literacies project.
Maybe before we can dig into digital literacies, we need to move past being only consumers of the web to makers of the web. If I am exploring, creating, connecting, and protecting on the web, then I have a much better understanding of Doug's idea of how "Confident" is an element of digital literacy.
has created a way for teachers to think about how to integrate technology in order to create the transformative learning environment that will support the work represented by the above web literacies grid. Here too, if I can move my practice from Substitution to Redefinition, from printing out digital content to participating in collaborative wikis, then I am more likely to realize how "Constructive" is an element of digital literacies.
We need to be able to move from theory to practice. What are your thoughts and / or ideas about supporting teachers and students as they begin to learn how to be digitally literate?
Digital storytelling is not just about fictional narratives. It is also about using the tools to curate a story for a particular audience and purpose. Storify
is one tool that enables you to set a topic and then pull tweets, images, and video to you that fit your criteria. Scoop.it!
is another tool that allows you to curate content found on the web and house it together in a "Scoop".
- Digital storytelling is "using the tools of digital media to craft, record, share and value the stories of individuals and communities, in ways that improve our lives" (Center for Digital Storytelling).
- "... refers to using new digital tools to help ordinary people to tell their own real-life stories." (Wikipedia)
- “Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share knowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories have taken many different forms. Stories have been adapted to each successive medium that has emerged, from the circle of the campfire to the silver screen, and now the computer screen.” (Leslie Rule, Digital Storytelling Association)
Six Word Stories
Lost a mother. Lost a family.
Kid at university; mother's next degree.
Fire, dogs, coffee. My morning ritual.
Dog ventured into bush; intensely annoyed.
Snow, shovel. Snow, shovel. Global warming?
Change agent, Coach, Masters, ETMOOC: Exhausted.
I'm having a ball!!
This lipdup says it all. I am having a ball. But that doesn't mean that it's been easy. Participating in ETMOOC is incredibly taxing. Trying to read, comment, post, and create for the mooc while finishing course work for my Masters, and working is not leaving time for much else. What's worse though is the shift in my thinking about higher education. Three months out from finishing a graduate degree, doing that part that is crucial- the research and implementation of the intervention, is not the best time to be influenced by Alec Couros
and Dave Cormier
and Alan Levine
and Sue Waters
and George Couros
and Darren Kuropatwa
and ... not that they are holding me back; it's just that my engagement level is so high in the etmooc compared to how I am feeling about the graduate work.
And it's not like I know much about open source learning; it's that whatever it is I am involved in here is so, so, so good. I feel like a belong. I don't have to hold back. To the contrary. My fellow etmoocers are all passionate, intense, risk-taking learners.
Imagine working in a building filled with etmoocers.
But that's not really the point is it?
No. Rather, imagine working (read here getting paid to work) online with etmoocers?
“Metacognition is not something you plan into your schedule, but rather, something you do in your day-to-day teaching." Guylaine Melançon, 2005
There has been lots of talk about self efficacy, students learning to choose from all the information offered online, learning to see what is 'out there' that they need, and to be both independent and interdependent learners. How do we learn to do these things? What's more, how do we develop that sense of agency that will support us as we take on new, and possibly, unknown learning environments?
Part of the answer lies in students' abilities to be metacognitive. We usually refer to metacognition as thinking about your thinking, but what really does that mean? Well, let's think about being a student in ETMOOC
How's it going so far?
Some people feel overwhelmed with the volume of information, some are pressed for time, and others are scrambling to learn new tools like blogging. You are probably using a variety of strategies to help you cope, but what strategies are using to help you learn? And are you cognizant of them?
I am a mooc newbie. So
much of what is happening is new to me that if I don’t rely on what I know about myself as a learner, I will be done, burned-out, or disengaged and gone before I ever got started.
I have a pretty good tool kit of personal strategies, but you can teach an old dog new tricks, so my first strategy in a new learning environment is to get used to the landscape. For this mooc, that meant setting up my Google calendar with the dates of all ETMOOC sessions, reading the etmooc.org site (a few times), preparing my blog, and then previewing some of the early bird submissions. Then, I run the old checklist:
Twitter, Tweetdeck, and Tweetchat check
Blog with tags, profile, first what am I doing here post check
Calendar set up check
Google+ profile and join community check
Blackboard Collaborate at the ready check
Attend all scheduled sessions-especially the first one-live check
These steps, or organizational strategies, help me stay calmish
, and prepare me for the new learning environment, or at least for what I think I can see. Other strategies I have already used include reviewing sessions for which I needed more processing time, searching beyond the course materials and blogs to help clarify ideas, terms, and products, and importantly, trying strategies/tools others suggest that I have not used before (remember you can teach an old dog new tricks-that’s this part) like using Google Reader to manage blog reading (thanks Sue
None of us are new to strategy instruction. We teach self-regulatory strategies, we teach organization strategies, we teach collaboration and cooperation strategies, and we teach academic strategies. No problem. The connection between strategy instruction and metacognition is where the gap often exists. Once students have some strategy tools in their toolkit, we need to create opportunities for them to think about how and when they use them. This is the metacognitive process. Teaching to the strategies is not enough. We need to engage students in thinking about their thinking. What did I do? What helped me finish this task? What helped me be successful? What didn’t I do that I could have done to help me be successful?
We need to teach students how to do this process, give them lots and lots and lots of practice, and then release it to them.
This is hard work.
This is time-consuming work.
But if we are serious about preparing our kids for Dave Cormier's
or Alan Levine's
university courses, then I think this is it. Our students need to begin to learn in kindergarten to be
Here are some resources to support your work in this area:
Grades 7 -12 http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/literacy2/adolescent/metacognition.html
All grades http://www.hent.org/world/rss/files/metacognition.htm
Oh my Keith. Agree heartily with your words. But I need to do more because I have had a post simmering in the back of my mind since Friday, and your post has given me the nudge I needed to get those thoughts out.
My experience of ETMOOC is incredible! Although ETMOOC is described as “developed with a weak ‘centre’, the structure, support/feedback, interaction, timely resources, and responsiveness of Alec and his conspirators has been amazing. The weekly flow of big ideas balanced with skill development is exactly what I was looking for, even though I did not know that I was. And the timing of each event has been perfect. Just as we got control of our tweeting and posting, the lipdub project arrived. On the heels of the lipdub, came Alan’s call for our true stories of open sharing. This fledgling community has been tended to well and often with questions, comments, direction, and humour. What great teaching!
And inspiring too! Now etmoocers are taking the reigns, with Ben’s 25 (now 35) Definitions of Connected Learning and James’ ETMOOC/Connected Learning Reading List.
The participatory nature of this experience is invigorating as I my thinking is challenged and my ability to articulate myself in words and beyond (maybe a vlog is within my reach!?) stretched.
When I made the word cloud slide for the Definitions of Connected Learning presentation, I wanted the one word that connected learning was doing to and for me–HAPPY! Such joy in learning, I wish all could experience.
ETMOOC Conspirators, thanks.
I continue to think about the rhizome-its ability to grow where it lands, its vigour, and its resiliency. I am thinking about how the rhizome can represent complexity. And I am thinking about how it symbolizes connection and what the connection might mean.ETMOOC
is about connected learning. Collectively trying to tease out the parts-visible learning, contributing to the learning of others, accepting the responsibility to share, connecting, reflecting, talking, writing, singing, creating, questioning. It's not all fun and games, though. There is push back. Fear of change exists even in this crowd. What happens to the rhizome when it hits that wall?
I am second generation Canadian. My grandparents, together and individually, came here for the same reasons thousands have- lack of opportunity, poverty, distress. I think in particular of my maternal grandfather, Emil Tvys, oldest of 14 children, a musician, a linguist, and a teacher in his home country, Lithuania, who came to this country on his own to start again. He rode the rails for awhile and then became a miner, and finally a carpenter. I think about him and I wonder, how did he prepare for the uncertainty of his life? What made him so resilient? How did he find his way past the wall? This is the most important lesson, isn't it? How do we learn that?
When I first saw the tweets about ETMOOC, I was interested because I am
determined to learn about digital tools, and because I want to understand how they are currently impacting and will impact teaching and learning. But I was so busy already-finishing up Flat Classroom Certified Teacher
course, moving into the last leg of my Master's program, and working hard at serving my teachers. And yet, there was something happening around this mooc, something intangible, yet palpable, and it drew me in.
And I mean in
. I feel like I am in a clearing deep within the mangle mess that we call the Internet. There is space to move around, stretch, and dance. There is space to declare yourself. There is space to be heard. I have a strong sense of having arrived, of being at home.
So, what's going on here?
I believe it's hope.
That lateral spread is the constant seeking for possibility--for a better life, for connected learning, for our clearing. And it is wildly energizing to feel that possibility exists.
What if I join ETMOOC?
What if I connect and collaborate there?
What if I make myself vulnerable?
What if share my understanding of what is 'out there' with my colleagues face-to-face?
What if I learn to see the trees?
What if I figure out how to tell that story?
What if I can connect my story to your story?
What if this connection fills us with hope?
What if this is the way past the wall.
Share you thoughts about connected learning and where it might take us, and what our responses might be when something gets in our way.
Let it blossom, let it flow
Now I don’t know much about Dave Cormier’s
Rhizomatic Learning, but I happened upon (I have been told I can no longer use stumbled upon, unless, of course, I mean Stumble Upon
) Dave’s post where he does a nice job (in 300 words) of summarizing Rhizomatic Learning. I am a gardener and I do grow rhizome plants—asparagus, irises, lily of the valley, and Cannas—so, I know how they grow, their lateral spread, and that they are resilient.
Collaborate, Twitter chat, etmooc blogs all stretching me across the ideas of connected learning, and pulling me with such tantalizing strength to unknown places of brilliance.
I found myself at DS106. Not sure
how I got there, but since I was in the neighbourhood, I listened in on Week 1 Episode of the DS106 show
. I heard about how Alan connects to his students, how they connect to each other, about blogging, about participating, about contributing, about learning. I met Haley Campbell
there. Her words about her learning should shake us to the bone.
“I am so much better at learning than I ever thought that I could be. I just needed a little bit more space to learn my own way.”
She’s talking about choice. Choice in the way she can demonstrate her learning. Such a simple thing and yet, she is only recently found herself in the environment where she could make that discovery.
I met Daniel Zimmerman
, too. He took DS106 twice, and is now back to model and mentor new students. Or maybe, he knows there is more learning here that he can and wants to do.
In the sun, the rain, the snow…
But this post isn’t just about my learning—Dean and I are on the same page here—sharing is all, and I absolutely love that he provides a way for me to give myself permission to share –that it is my responsibility.
Consider the real work of this past week on the ground in a school system readying itself to spring into the 21st century, scared as all get-out, but wanting to believe that the risk is worth it.
January 19—First time ever that teachers attend a Saturday Classroom 2.0 Live event
to listen to Ontario educator Heidi Siwak
speak about student inquiry.
January 23—First time ever that teachers participate in an online evening workshop via Adobe Connects: Choice Literacy’s The Tech Savvy Literacy Teacher by Franki Sibberson
(They have to post on a ning and learn how to connect to each other!)
January 24—First time ever scheduled Google Hangout with Heidi Siwak
to plan First Nations Inquiry Project
January 24—Heidi couldn’t make the meeting, so teachers decided to have Twitter boot camp instead resulting in 5 teachers joining Twitter and a weekly Twitter chat time is established (We now have 9 of 50 teachers/admin on Twitter!!!)
January 25—My colleague who is on Twitter, but who has not tweeted …yet…joins me in our first ever lipdub.
Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs
To tell me which way I should go to find the answer,
And all the time I know,
Plant your love and let it grow.
Let it grow, let it grow,
Let it blossom, let it flow.
In the sun, the rain, the snow,
Love is lovely, let it grow.
Time is getting shorter and there's much for you to do.
Only ask and you will get what you are needing,
The rest is up to you.
Plant your love and let it grow.
Songwriters: CLAPTON, ERIC PATRICK
ETMOOC = Educational Technology & Media Massive Open Online Course
What I love about this screen shot from the introductory ETMOOC session is the evidence of participants' in their own learning. The learners in this forum have been asked to answer the posed question, and they do clearly. But they also star, circle, and high light others' ideas. Immediate feedback to the teacher is a powerful tool for instructional design. I wonder how responsive a MOOC can be? Is the feedback provided above useful to the instructor or to the learners? And if it is to the learner, who discovers what it is she has to learn next, where does she go? I know that Alec has said that there are experts within the group, and that help is there if you need it, but as I think about introducing MOOCs to my colleagues, I see that they may choose not to try because the every bit of the learning is public. Something for me to continue to think about as I work my way through the course.
I love the next slide! It is so representative of the shift in the culture of learning.
Learning is fun. Learning is messy. Learning is social. Learning has a back channel.
I have been thinking about how I make my learning visible, and I am struggling with it because my experience in the system in which I work suggests that I should make my learning less
visible. When your colleagues walk the other way when they see you coming, there might be a problem. The solution, of course, was to join ETMOOC because all the freaks and geeks (I am having buttons made) will be here, and I will appear normal.
So far, so good.
Recently, I joined PLPs Live Twitter chat
on Action Research. I am just starting my own AR for the last leg of a Master’s program, and although I had just signed off ETMOOC’s Twitter session
, I couldn’t resist checking out @snbeach
and company’s conversation.
I am a newcomer to the Twittersphere, and Twitter chats still make my head spin. How do people think so fast and track the conversation so fluently? One answer came as the clock neared the top of the hour with @snbeach
reminding people to have their resources, materials and pre-constructed tweets at the ready. Huh?
I get that having key points, quotes, and links assembled prior to a Twitter chat is a good idea, maybe even mandatory for a ‘thick’ conversation. But pre-constructed tweets? What is the purpose in having your thinking on a topic pre-recorded? Efficiency? Accuracy? What is lost by being so prepared? What ideas are not acknowledged in the rapid-fire chat because they do not fit the script? How hard is it to respond to ideas that move in a completely different direction than what you have prepared? Are Twitter chats events to validate your thinking or opportunities to explore ideas? How might pre-constructed tweets support or quell visible learning?
I am interested in what visible learning looks like. Twitter chat is first up. I hope you’ll help me think this through.