Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Future of Literacy

In an article for The Reading Teacher, Bogard & McMackin (2012) demonstrate one way that technology is being used in the English classroom to support and augment student participation in the traditional writing process. They observe students using iPads and Smartpens to record themselves orally rehearsing and graphically organizing stories they plan to write. They conclude that this use of technology has proved especially effective because “it allowed [the students] to formulate ideas, revisit their initial thinking, and make decisions about what was working or not working without placing the considerable cognitive demands on working memory that written texts require” (Bogard & McMackin, 2012, p. 322). I find that this research also suggests something further about the promise of technology for developing literacies old and new: a potential for integrating speech and writing in a way that could establish continuity, if not shape the future of language arts instruction.
Addtionally, In the article “Secondary Orality and Emerging Literacy in an Age of Multimodal Literacy,” Matthew Skillen and Kenan Metzger outline the ways in which technology contributes to students development as members of a “secondary oral culture” and the ways teachers need to address this shift through multimodal literacy instruction and assessment. While our society’s dominant culture and educational structure continues to focus on traditional literacy (reading and writing), the saturation of technology and digital media in everyday life means that many students are wired to respond to and communicate best through oral-aural means. The authors suggest a variety of ways teachers can adapt to this change and enlist multimedia and new literacies to account for this dramatic change while guiding students toward competency in a variety of literacies, including traditional literacy. One important example they provide is the use of video “book talks,” where students review a book they read through recording a YouTube video to which teachers and classmates can post comments and start a conversation.

Skillen, M., & Metzger, K. (2012). Secondary orality and emerging literacy in an age of multimodal literacy. SIGNAL Journal, 2012(Spring/Summer), 57-61.

Special thanks to Michael Falgout and Brett Mach for contributing to this blog.

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