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Multiliteracies and Computer Literacy These days what does it mean to know about computers? Hardware A first level of computer literacy is to know the parts of a computer and how these parts function together. Most people are familiar with the main components of computers, though the following are useful to know: •

The function of each part (input, output, storage, processing)

How the parts work

Why they fail and how to avoid and troubleshoot problems

Possibly, the names of the parts in a target language

Software A second level of computer literacy is knowing how to use them productively. This involves knowledge of: •

Operating systems and what they do

Open source, freeware, and proprietary or commercial software

Selected useful applications

Networking A third level of computer literacy involves connecting with other computers through networks. This suggests familiarity with: •

LAN or local area networks

Connecting, browsing, and searching through the Internet

Network and personal online security

What is Literacy? Recently technology has had significant impacts on changing notions of literacy. Literacy is by definition the ability of a literate or educated person to:

communicate successfully through available media

locate, access, and understand the communications of others

distinguish between appropriate/inappropriate, competent/incompetent material

In the not too distant past printed text was regarded as the one essential literacy for mass distribution, but in recent times creators and consumers of content are starting to conceive of literacy as encompassing imagery and sound as communicated through digital mass media. Also ways of finding and distributing content on the Internet are undergoing radical change, utilizing techniques much different than with traditional print media. The term ‘multiliteracies’ has been used to refer to this expanded notion of literacy.

Multiliteracies Multiliteracies encompasses yet another level of literacy involving the social aspects of using computers to interact and collaborate with one another. Tools and techniques for putting computer users in touch with one another, couched under terms such as social networking and utilizing social media, are being developed and evolved constantly. Sometimes users communicate with one another directly, but often this is done through tracking data that people leave in the course of using computers on networks. An understanding of what is involved in these systems and how they work are becoming of increasing importance in people’s social and professional lives (particularly where “21 st century learning” is encouraged).

Social Media and Social Networking Key concepts 1. Theories o

Vygotsky and social constructivism


Connectivism and personal learning networks

2. Web 2.0 o

By definition 

Users are able to write to websites, create or upload content online

Often allow embedding and mashup with other sites

Free and ‘permanent’ as long as business model remains viable •

Google makes fortune on ads that respond to user data tracking



Some sites offer free introductory services, charge for extra features

Some, like Wikipedia, sustained on user energy

Social implications 

19th century read-only vs. read-write 20th century

Shift in power from ‘publishers’ to individual content providers

Allow voices previously denied forums (in the ‘long tail’)

Example sites and applications 

These are extremely


Students post favorites to Posterous or to a wiki or shared Google Doc

3. Aggregation o

RSS: Really simple syndication A feature on almost all blogs – allows users to see when new content is posted and access feeds 


Sample uses (can be illustrated in activities below) •

Track searches

Lots more besides suggested activities, will write them in as they occur to me

Activities •

Find feeds, put them in a Pageflakes

Students set up feeds in Google Reader

Folksonomies vs. taxonomies 

Power of tagging illustrated in •





Tag searches (using RSS)

Collaboration through tagged blog and web 2.0 content o

Illustrative project: Writingmatrix


Students can concoct similar project to aggregate their content using unique tag

Blogging 1. By definition o

Have RSS feed; therefore, can be subscribed to and new content followed


Only the blogger posts, but users can comment


Uploaded / embedded content usually allowed

2. Noticing blogs – o

Teachers show blogs they find interesting,


Teachers suggest blogs they think might be interesting to the students


Have students find some that look interesting to them


These can be posted to Posterous or written to a wiki or shared Google Doc

3. Create a blog: o

Posterous This is a perfect introduction to blogging for a class of students. The advantage to Posterous is that posts can be emailed and they will appear in the blog. If images etc. are attached they will appear in the post. Class email addresses can be added to the one blog where students post via email and the teacher manages it.


Other blogging platforms: Blogger, Wordpress

4. Microblogging o

Twitter 

Much more than what are you doing now?

How to develop a network

Post “people to follow” to Posterous or a wiki or shared Google Doc

 5. Podcasting o


By definition 

Like an audio blog

Has RSS feed

Users can subscribe, automatically download new content

Podcasts can be labeled, searched, aggregated

Activities 

Teachers suggest interesting podcasts

Students locate some they are interested in

These can be posted to Posterous or written to a wiki or shared Google Doc

Wikis o



By definition 

Users with permission can write in the same space

Upload of content usually allowed

Embedded content usually allowed

Preserve past versions, can revert at any time

Examples 


Google Docs

PBworks and Wikispaces

Activities 

As has been noted throughout, students might have been making notes in wikis as they go. Google Docs is particularly interesting because unlike other wikis it allows multiple writers to edit simultaneously and on the fly.

Multiliteracies and Computer Literacy  

This is a rough course outline that could be used to teach a literacy component to foundaton students at Petroleum Institute or to outline a...