The general design layout of the website was created with the default Twenty Eleven 3.3.1 WordPress theme and the domain was secured through Webstatic. Initially the research project commenced with investigation of several articles on multi-modality and assessment analysing interconnections that could be linked to the unit of study and course focus.
The teaching and learning core and elective technologies associated with this site vary from core knowledge building of Microsoft Office through to advanced timeline authoring and interactive games programming. However, the pedagogical approach for the core and elective technologies share many similarities. They both rely on a design, development and evaluation cycle. Analysis of the two assessment instruments provided an opportunity to analyse transitions from junior to senior and variations in structural design.
My initial thoughts on new literacies are:
- Literacy – basic ability to communicate within a given community
- New literacy – as communities grow and integrate other cultures they develop new social literacy skills and tools for common discourse/communication. Members of communities form new literacy skills to communicate in broader community settings.
- Multi-modal text – variations/varied ways and methods of delivery text for different platforms and devices other than just print based. Combined modes such as sound, visual, and hypertext for delivering the text.
- Multi-literacies – communication across varied and multiple range of literacy domains.
- Text – method for communicating within a given culture
Brainstorming pedagogies, teaching methods & course structure
There are many overlapping threads within the course of study e.g. social and ethical use and production of technology products, theory and techniques. Students follow a Design, Develop and Evaluation process/cycle (DDE). They utilise a visual diary to represent research, reasoning and justification, then meet with their teacher (project manager) and peers to gain sign-off ready for development phase. We cover creative commons and several other industry associated elements along the way. We discuss multimedia and modes of engagement for the young learners, everything from colour psychology through to common user feedback and ‘leveling up’/challenges in games, catering for learners with visual, auditory or G&T needs.
What makes the games development unit so unique is the students capacity and interest in being a producer of an educationally focused product. Some of the students have younger siblings or cousins so they can observe their interaction with technology and they begin to gauge and gain a sense of how the learning objects can help young learners learn new literacy or numeracy skills. See attached example.
What kinds of pedagogies are being integrated to advocate new literacies?
What are some of the features?
- Constructivist learning – through ideation process, broad research, reasoning and justification, following a Design, Develop, Evaluate (DDE)cycle.
- Teacher as facilitator – student centred learning. Supported by on-line learning, student paced & self directed learning – pod/vodcasts and industry professionals.
- Problem-based learning – trial and error coding (fixing bugs) and time-line authoring. Peer and individual problem solving. Migrating to new technologies through complex unrehearsed problem solving processes. Backward engineering – using technical templates rather than blank stage learning. We no longer teacher ‘mastery’ of one coding system eg HTML, now our students problem solve a range of existing codes to become ‘competent’ in working with php, flash, java, XHTML etc particularly through on-line international communities and forums
- Project-based learning – work centered around process and product. Students evidence found in visual diary, project management via spreadsheets, formal documents eg invoicing and engagement, end product and ongoing evaluation throughout life cycle of project.
- Integration of ICTs and scaffolding of new technologies
- Student engagement in authentic client design brief and industry project management processes
Just prior to the commencement of the research project my three year old daughter picked up an old mobile phone that she found in the kitchen drawer. ‘Daddy’, she enquired, ‘how do I turn this on?’ She scrubbed her pointer finger across the screen trying to get the phone to turn on. I know I am not the first to witness this situation.
Reflecting on this circumstance reminded me of two important issues facing education today. Firstly, just how quickly and confidently young minds adapt to useful technology tools within their environment, especially the intuitive touch screen interface design of the iPhone and iPad. I am sure parents all over the world have witnessed in amazement their young children fluently navigating the latest touch screens way before theycould ride a bike without training wheels or write their name with a pencil. How is it that a three year old can pre-conceptualise events of physics and cut the rope at the exact time needed to level up? Secondly, the enormity of the untapped potential of experimentation of multi-modal practices in teaching and learning for engaging our young learners in authentic learning for the future economy. In particular, the opportunity that presents for students to express knowledge and understanding through quality multi-modal assessment response.
How much of our curriculum is driven by old ways of thought and practice? Is the phone in the kitchen drawer a redundant media device after one year of use? Is it a case today that our assessment techniques and technology pedagogy mindset are not keeping pace with the needs of students’ digital futures and careers in society? How concerned are we as educators that our students are heading into future careers that are not yet invented?
Vincent (2006) reminds us that ‘in the society in which children are growing up, communication through print media is now almost always a mix of images and text, while electronic media incorporate sound, music, hyperlinking and animations’ (p.51). In the age of the read and write web, a new and more complex definition of literacy is needed (Richardson, 2009). New literacies require ongoing development of interconnected skills and new knowledge much broader than just the ability to competently read and write. New literacies have emerged in association with technology (Brown, Bryan & Brown, 2005) redefining how we communicate in a digitally connected global community. Gilster (1997, as cited in Brown et al, 2005) defines digital literacy as ‘the ability to communicate with an ever-expanding community to discuss issues, gather information, and seek help’.
Today, designing curricula to meet the needs of our young learners requires an open-ended and innovative progressive mindset. Additionally, we also need to be proactive in transdisciplinary inquiry and thinking more broadly outside the comforts of our own context for learning. Our end goal then is to combine our ways of working and thinking to create more innovative teaching and learning experiences relevant to our young learners futures.
Richardson (2009, p130) discusses four important new skills required of students, suggesting that they need to
- become critical readers and active consumers instead of just passive readers accepting what is presented.
- become literate in publishing content online.
- be well versed on techniques and skills for online collaboration, communication and networking.
- be able to manage their online information well beyond secondary schooling -being able to create, sustain and participate online.
The preamble for the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) suggests that teachers in this digital age have a plethora of information and communication technology (ICT) at their disposal and attention now needs to have a future focused on how we can best harness ICTs increasing their efficiency and effectiveness in transforming learning. Teachers can no longer ignore the role of ICTs in transforming learning. According to Prensky (2005) today’s students demand greater autonomy in their learning and require the inclusion of ICTs in ways that best meet their individual learning styles. Furthermore, technology and 21st century skills are intrinsically related, in that learning 21st century skills requires the use of technology (Grunwald and Associates, 2010).
New literacies intersection with technology in learning?
New approaches to pedagogy and content knowledge can be been examined in Mishra & Koehler’s (2009) Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework. The TPACK framework builds upon the work of Lee Shulman’s (1986) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). Diagram 1 represents the integration of technology knowledge into pedagogy and content knowledge.
Diagram.1. TPACK Framework sourced from http://tpack.org/
In Queensland, Smart Classrooms Student ICT Expectations (SCICTE) assists teachers, curriculum developers and school leaders plan meaningful and engaging learning experiences that incorporate the use of ICT. The expectations are set out in junctures from Prep to Grade 12. The Expectations include the same elements of ICT competence as articulated in the Australian Curriculum:
- Inquiring with ICT
- Creating with ICT
- Communicating with ICT
- Ethics, Issues and ICT
- Operating ICT
YouTube video illustrating some common literacy changes occurring amongst today’s young learners “A Vision of K-12 Students Today”
“A Vision of K-12 Students Today”
Student work from a ‘young creative’ under graduate student currently studying Animation and Motion Graphics; Kinetic Typography. Developed with Adobe After Effects.
Henry Jenkins, Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. For more info on Henry Jenkins, visit http://www.henryjenkins.org/index.html
Prior to eleven years of teaching
My father, a self taught television technician, taught me many important skills in regards to technology well before ‘technology ‘ and I met early in my teaching career. One of the most important gifts my father past on is to work with the tools you have at the time they are needed, if you cannot afford them, make them. Hence the plough disc in the 90’s to watch pay TV. Today, for those fortunate to ‘connect’ are working with the tools they have creating their own presence online through social networking and multimedia. Commonly sharing learning experiences, both formal and informal through the ‘read-write-web’ Web 2.0 arena using tools such as weblogs, wikis, RSS, social bookmarking and audio/video-casting to actively participate in communities of practice (Wenger, 2006). The notion of communities of practice has changed the way teachers and learners experience education (De Laat et al, 2006). Having a mechanical mindset for technological changes in education is certainly helping with my current context of new literacies study within teaching and learning.
The internet has dramatically changed how communities across the world go about education, living, health, security and business. The biggest difference being the ‘read/write web’ over just reading the web of information. Read and write access is now an easy option as a medium for efficient and active communication for growing online communities. Couple this with advances in multimedia streaming on mobile devices, Web 2.0 integration, cloud storage and cloud system applications.. multimedia, certainly within most of today’s educational setting, is transforming teaching and learning in ways never imagined fifteen years ago..