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LiteracyExpress Canadian Literacy and Learning Network

Winter 2011/2012

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LiteracyExpress Winter 2011/2012


In this issue: CLLN news Editor’s note Family Literacy day Activity

Introducing CLLN’s new President and CEO FIONa Murray


this newsletter is published by

Canadian Literacy and Learning Network 342A Elgin Street Ottawa, ON K2P 1M6

CLLN is core funded by the Office for Literacy and Essential Skills

e Board of CLLN has just gone through a thorough and competitive executive hiring process with an impressive array of qualified candidates. We are especially pleased to announce that we have selected Lindsay Kennedy for the position of President and CEO. Lindsay has been a literacy leader in Ontario but has also developed and honed her national perspective, network and vision in the last five years as the Senior Project Manager and Acting Executive Director at CLLN. She comes to the position with her eyes wide open about the challenges and opportunities at this time of potential change at the national level and has some fresh ideas about how to focus our collective energies as Canada’s national hub for literacy and essential skills.

Lindsay Kennedy, CLLN’s new President and CEO

A literacy practitioner on the Ontario scene since the early nineties, Lindsay became the Executive Director of Wellington County Learning Centre near Guelph in 1993. She not only grew that organization from a small organization with one part-time staff person, to one with a budget of over $250,000 in less than five years, but she also diversified their funding base with a variety of partners and funders, increased stakeholder participation and guided the board through an organizational transition. In addition to her skills as a business manager, Lindsay developed her skills as a researcher, writer and curriculum developer on projects such On e Level: Demonstrating Skills and Knowledge in Ontario's Community Literacy Agencies; Model Demonstrations, Tools, and Resources and e Learning Edge (on online resource for learners). She authored/coauthored of the course manuals for the college level Teacher of Adults: Literacy Educator Certificate Program. As an active and practical member of the Board of the Ontario Literacy Coalition in the mid-nineties, Lindsay served as chair through a time of major organizational transition. She also co-founded Community Literacy of Ontario (CLO) which has been a leading capacity-builder and advocate for community-based literacy programs in Ontario for over 15 years. Lindsay is respected for her ability to connect with people and seize opportunities for innovative projects and activities. She brings strong business/organizational acumen that is grounded in deep experience, understanding and passion for the literacy field. We’re glad to have Lindsay at the helm! FIONa Murray is a member of CLLN’s Board of Directors


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LiteracyExpress Winter 2011/2012


While pulling together this issue on digital literacy and digital learning, I got to make a few key observations: every morning as I started up my computer and scanned my inboxes, social media and news reader accounts, I would come across yet another news item, innovation or opportunity that was relevant to this issue. In the past month alone the Guardian started a digital literacy campaign, MIT made its free open courseware available as credit courses, Apple teamed up with textbook publishers to put interactive textbooks online for free and in Iqaluit a father created an educational online game and application software for children in the Inuit language. is is just the tiniest of snapshots of the speed of technology, creativity and ideas moving ahead in the digital world. It is exciting and exhilarating for those who can participate. Which brings us to the digital divide: it used to be that access to hardware was not universal and that was the barrier to overcome. is has changed drastically over the last decade. From the early initiative of c@psites across Canada, to “one laptop per child” worldwide, not to mention the evolution of cellphones as portable internet tools, access is not the issue any more. e gap now lies in being able to navigate a complicated

network (check out this graph outlining Chris Watermann’s “digital literacy” course) that requires high functionality of essential skills in a continuously advancing technology. And let’s face it: for many of us it can be rather intimidating to keep up with software updates or even venture into new digital territory. We have to learn, constantly, to keep the edge - but really, who has the time? And there is this other thing that jumped out at me while hanging out in cyberspace: the enormous generosity of individuals and groups of people, who deeply believe that the Internet is part of a civil society and who donate time and competence to make it easier for others to participate. ey share easy to use software and teaching tools, they create community, a welcoming community, that will allow those who have been at the margins of the digital world to join in the conversation. We hope this issue of LiteracyExpress is a good start to an ongoing dialogue within our network on how to advance digital skills of learners of all levels. aNNEttE HEGEL


F A M I Ly L I T E r A C y D Ay 2 0 1 2 Here’s a fun thing to do with the family: build your own family website. A fully functioning website with content you can share with your friends and members of your family who live far away can be set up in as little time as half an hour. You can do something really simple and straight forward, just click here.

If you feel a little more ambitious, Google Sites has many templates to work with that can integrate your website with your e-mail and calendars. Adults and kids become writers, editors, photo journalists, and even videographers - the cool thing is: if you are on the road, you can keep updating your site from any public library with internet access.

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LiteracyExpress Winter 2011/2012

FOCUS Menial no more - a discussion paper


e discussion paper, produced by Ontario Literacy Coalition required for participation in the knowledge economy. Literacy (OLC) highlights the issues around entry level jobs and the skills and Essential Skills needs to include the application of digital and training needed to do them. It is crucial reading for skills, including science, technology, engineering and mathemateducators, employers and those who are concerned with labour ics (STEM disciplines). Working at this market strategies. e findings have level would allow the former low-skilled implications for the economy in all provinces workers to complete tasks such as data and territories in entry and online applications. As the Canada paper states, “e value of blended STEM vocational approach with more generic litere is a common eracy and essential skills could have the Menial work no misconception among real and substantial dividend of creating a longer exists. employers and other labour market pipeline between the supEntry-level jobs Canadians that lowply and demand sides of the impending are anything skilled workers are easily labour market crisis.” but low-skilled. replaceable and don’t need training. at Attracting investment to literacy and perception might have essential skills is an economic worked when entry level jobs did not require imperative. Many provinces and many essential skills, especially reading, writing territories will need to look at and digital technology, but it is no longer the case. program and system design to Menial work no longer exists. Entry-level jobs are integrate literacy and essential skills anything but low-skilled. with vocational trades. Employers, labour groups and educators need to e discussion paper cites examples in several be actively engaged in all aspects of traditional areas such as housekeeping where all programming. people had to do was to show up, be honest and reliable, and they would be able to walk into a job e OLC believes that the Federal Governeven though they had limited skills or lack of Canadian experiment should continue to play a strong leadence. ership role and consider an enhanced Attracting version of Essential Skills to incorporate diginvestment to ere is compelling evidence that low-skilled work has been most ital skills. literacy and affected by technological change. ere is an increasing need for entry-level employees to access, use and interpret information Workforce training systems are based on our essential skills using digital technology. Many of the jobs that are no longer previous knowledge of job competencies. It is an economic ‘menial’ are in the fastest growing employment sectors of retail, is time to revise our views and consider how imperative. healthcare and hospitality. However, at the moment few to provide skills building training that is employers are taking it upon themselves to up-skill their lowresponsive and flexible and that is capable of skilled workers. reflecting the changing needs of the economy. e discussion paper recommends that industry, labour and the A useful resource to find out the current duties of entry-level training community work together to identify the jobs and occupations is the National Occupation Classification codes people that require skills training and how to design education (NOC) produced by OLES. and training programs to meet these needs. e read the full discussion paper on advancing our discussion paper raises questions of the form of workforce through digital skills here. this training and learning. ese employees do ere is compelling not need university degrees or college diplomas Get involved in the discussions and reflections evidence that lowbut they do need specific skills that go beyond around this topic here. skilled work has basic knowledge and in some cases beyond a been most affected Click here to sign up for webinar with Literacy high school diploma. What is needed is to raise by technological Nova Scotia on February 8th. the skills of this portion of the population to change. IALS level 3, the basic level that is


Chris Harwood is CLLN’s Manager of Field Development

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LiteracyExpress Winter 2011/2012


transliteracy: sharing knowledge through collective authorship e very short history of transliteracy In 2005 Alan Liu from the Department of English at the University of California-Santa Barbara brought together a cross disciplinary group of academics to study technological, social, and cultural practices of online reading. He called it the transliteracies Project. Professor of New Media (in the Faculty of Humanities and the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK), Sue omas was one of the people attending the first Transliteracies Conference held by the project. Since then she has built upon their research to develop the key concepts and working definition of transliteracy. Based on the term transliterate “to write or print a letter or word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language,”transliteracy is concerned with what it means to be literate in the 21st century.

transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, tV, radio and film, to digital social networks. SuE tHOMaS

e study of transliteracy analyzes the relationship between people and technology, most specifically social networking. but is fluid enough to not be tied to any particular technology. It focuses more on the social uses of technology, whatever that technology may be. In practice transliteracy questions authority and devalues hierarchical structures for disseminating information; champions tend to advocate for issues that help level the information playing field, such as ensuring neutrality and bridging the digital divide. “transliterating social

“e essential idea here is that transliteracy is concerned with mapping meaning across different media and not with developing particular literacies about various media. It is not about learning text literacy and visual literacy and digital literacy in isolation from one another but about the interaction among all these literacies.” tOM IPrI

and creative life implies new social and political understandings as new relations of creative production emerge. Collective authorship and collective intelligence are modes of active learning and discovery that present new dynamics between individuals and groups with respect to knowledge.”

2020 FOrECaSt: CrEatING tHE FuturE OF LEarNING

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read more about how transliteracy translates into the practioner’s work in the next issue of LiteracyExpress


LiteracyExpress Winter 2011/2012


D I G I T A L L I T E r A C yA

When Margaret Atwood made the point that online social media are great tools for boosting literacy (at the nextMEDIA conference in Toronto last December), the reaction was divided. While some insist that txt-speak with its LOLs and C U L8ERs wrecks language and the ability to spell, Atwood believes that any reading, even if it it’s in 140 character bytes, is engaging and part of a literate society. is is not a new debate, but Atwood’s prominence has brought it nicely to the forefront in main stream media. It is therefore with perfect timing that AlphaPlus released its report on the use of social internet media by adult learners, authored by Donna M. Chovanec and Amy Meckelborg of the University of Alberta, in conjunction with the John Howard Society’s Adult Transition Learning Centre in Edmonton. e paper is a “synthesis of the critical analysis of the issues that we uncovered from the literature, policy documents, web-based sources and, more importantly, from literacy learners and educators themselves.” Digital literacy has become essential in the 21st century. Basic and functional print literacy are foundational to developing competencies in digital communication but they are no longer enough. So it is important at this time to investigate what kinds of skills adult literacy learners demonstrate in their use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) and other social media.

e authors put particular emphasis on the emerging “participation gap”, which, similar to the digital divide, is “stratified by social class, race, gender and other social factors. Simply providing computers will not bridge the gap. Inability to fully engage with digital technology leaves adult literacy learners on the margins of the information society. Bridging the participation gap requires socialization into the “technoculture” as well as technological “know how” that is often out of reach for marginalized citizens. To enhance their lives, adult literacy learners will need access to technical support and training to fully engage with the potential of the Internet and SNS.

“ere is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to technology. Learners have different learning needs, goals, styles and preferences that are equally important when using SNS or other social media. Furthermore, some learners may choose not to engage with digital technology at all. However, there is a difference between those who make choices from among a range of options, and those who must make choices that are limited or circumscribed by access to resources, information or opportunity.”

e key questions Chovanec, Meckleborg and their team asked, are: How are adult literacy learners using social networking sites (such as Facebook)? How might social networking sites (such as Facebook) be used to facilitate adult literacy learning? e findings are organized into four categories (social purposes, digital citizenship; digital divide; learning and literacy) weighing each by their functionality, together with the advantages and disadvantages in adult learners’ experiences. e paper finds that the “discussion of these four categories reveals the complex and contested terrain upon which questions of SNS are waged”.


Applying ISTE standards (educational technology standards developed by the International Society for Technology in Education) in assessing the value of SNS in adult literacy learning strategies, the paper concludes that activities such as blogging are clearly related to communication and collaboration skills. However, users will need guidance to leverage social technologies to their full potential.

e researchers found that neither learners nor practitioners readily recognize the possibilities of SNS for learning. Opinions were polarized about whether using SNS would assist or detract from literacy learning. However, there is support for bridging informal digital learning within non-formal and formal educational contexts. Users learn technical skills, creativity and communication skills; they construct and co-construct knowledge and identities; and they gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. e report clearly concludes that the majority of learners use SMS and informally acquire literacy and essential skills in the process. e challenge for programs is now to integrate the use of the tool into formal learning in a meaningful way.

to download “Social Networking Sites & adult literacy Learning”, click here.

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LiteracyExpress Winter 2011/2012


D I G I T A L L I T E r A C yA

WEbSITES TO GET yOU STArTED - JUST A DrOP IN ThE bUCKET e Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) OLES leverages skills investments in Canada and integrates literacy and essential skills into existing workplace training and upgrading activities through the use of information, partnership and tools. OLES offers free, customizable and easy-to-use tools and resources that can help assess and address skills challenges, including digital skills. Use the Computer use Self-assessment to gain a better understanding of your skill strengths and areas for improvement; and then check out the Computer use tip Sheet for helpful advice on how to improve these skills. Industry Canada's Canada Business Network - Canada Business Blog OLES essential skills-themed posts for entrepreneurs and small business owners. alphaPlus web Index Over 1000 web-based resources on all aspects of Adult Basic Education (ABE) and literacy from provincial, national and international sources. Literacy Basics A free, self-directed online training website for Ontario literacy practitioners. Written and designed by Community Literacy of Ontario. National adult Literacy Database - tools Library catalogues; Online educational resources; Practitioners' tools; Program directories; Self-evaluation; Workforce preparation for an extensive list of annotated links visit the new CLLN website - - launching in early February

UPCOMING WEbINArS Literacy and Essential Skills tools: Make them work for you Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) invites you to plug in from your computer and join us for a free webinar. is will give you the opportunity to learn about the various tools and supports made available through HRSDC to help address literacy and essential skills challenges as they relate to the workplace. You will come away with a better understanding of: OLES tools and their purpose how to select and use the tools in three easy steps where to find the tools online and how to access them how the tools can be customized to meet your clients’ needs OLES is committed to building capacity in “what works” to help improve the literacy and essential skills of adult Canadians to better equip them to get a job, succeed at work, and adapt to workplace change. Date: Monday, February 6th, 2012 (en français le 9 février) 2012 Time: 12:00 pm-1:30 pm (Eastern Standard Time) -click here to register

CLLN Membership If you aren’t already a member, or haven’t renewed your membership, please click here for the membership form on the CLLN website. we have two types of membership available – general and organizational. If you have any questions about becoming a member, or renewing your membership, please call the office at 613-563-2464 or email us at

Menial No More: advancing our workforce through Digital Skills In partnership with Literacy Nova Scotia, John MacLaughlin, Manager of Program, Business and Partnership Development at the OLC and one of the authors of the report, will: Talk about the emerging research on complex communication and problem solving in technology rich environments (TRE) Discuss how all levels of work are dramatically changing – including jobs that have been previously classified as lower skilled Talk about the potential of integrated training, career ladders and a ‘new generation‘ of Literacy and Essential Skills delivery models, Q & A at the end of the webinar Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM AST click here to register webinar on the PIaaC Survey Patrick Bussière, Director, Learning Policy Research Division, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, will present an outline of the Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey and what LES programs can learn from the findings and the Canadian demographic information. Dates: English on Wednesday, February 15 (en français le 16 février) 11:30 am click here to register

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Literacy Express - the digital literacy edition  

Newsletter of CLLN, Canadian Literacy and Learning Network

Literacy Express - the digital literacy edition  

Newsletter of CLLN, Canadian Literacy and Learning Network