Critical Reflection

The aim of this critical reflection is to present a personal learning journey for EDU8415 New Literacies and Multi-modal Texts. The reflection will aim to present:

  • my knowledge and understanding of course content and associated key issues.
  • evidence of higher level thinking, exploring my individual learning processes.
  • critical analysis of my learning and connections to new pedagogies, contemporary learning theories and teaching philosophy.
  • application of context knowledge applicable to my individual context.

My initial thoughts on new literacies were that literacy is our necessary ability to communicate within a given community. This is still my understanding of literacy but the course of study has indubitably provided the opportunity to explore and recognise the expanding boundaries (Kinzer, 2003) and merits of new literacies, particularly in the context of teaching and learning in multimedia and interactive technologies. My theoretical position prior to EDU8415 recognised the importance of providing students with the opportunity to develop new literacies given the analogous relationship between technology education and new literacies. My teaching area has a pedagogical focus on teaching multimedia and interactive technologies requiring students to develop a broad range of new technology skills.

My preconceived ideas about new literacies did first and foremost align with the relationship to technology. In the age of the read and write web Richardson (2009) states that the explosion of information and online technologies demands a more complex definition of what it means to be literate. Today, people of all ages  can be online networked learners immersed in combinations of visual, auditory, and print information (Kist, 2001) actively constructing meaning through varied interactions and diverse new media. Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, (2004) state palpably that new technologies, and those still to emerge, require students to develop new literacy practices to effectively exploit their potentials.

I consider my theoretical position to be primarily aligned with common principles of networked learning, constructivism and connectivism learning approaches. Constructivist by reason of authentic learning experiences for students and also consideration of the students prior knowledge and understanding (Lombardi 2007). Incorporating safe fail design challenges, challenging without threat (Caine and Caine, 1991) and collaborative learning experiences to generate ideas (Hein, 1991). Connectivism by reason of contemporary learning through technology advances (Siemens, 2004). More specifically, facilitating connections for like minded learners from different cultures in a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) via access to international forums and online social networking.

My initial belief that new literacies and multi-modal texts were found in the assessment instruments was accurate to a certain degree. The unit of study has provided a positive and practical way for future enhancements of new literacies and multi-modal texts in my practice. The pedagogical focus of the elective technologies is complex reasoning and problem-solving with technology systems. The course structure review highlights new literacies integration and provides commentary on elements of critical, social/cultural, technological and visual literacies.

The assessment instruments involve experiences that situate the student in project work that requires them to collaborate and communicate with an authentic business client. The client connection enables the student to be involved in social and cultural relationships creating technical documentation for a particular social purpose. Creating technical documentation for a real client aligns with Luke and Freebody’s text user element of the four resources model, developing and using functional text for a particular audience and social purpose (Luke and Freebody, 1999).

The instructional design of the assessment instruments encourage networked learning and ‘teacher as connector’ (Richardson, 2009) in the learning process. The assessment instruments position the teacher as the project manager overseeing beta testing sign-off and negotiation in design and development processes. The games programming and interactive animation units are a practical discipline that have a unique emphasis on the logical application of trial and error, where learning evolves logically through the cycle of testing and inquiry (Thomas, 2011). The testing cycle required for finding bugs in programming syntax in digital games and interactive animation helps students develop coding competence. Learning a new programming syntax requires students to decode and encode a range of patterns and variables. This type of coding competence development aligns with Luke and Freebody’s (1999) code breaker resource that suggests learners need to indentify and recognise a range of codes associated with words and visual symbols. Essential programming skills are also developed further by peer beta-testing prior to final testing when the students visit the local early learning centre.

Spiro and DeSchryver (2007 as cited in Thomas & Sigmund 2009 pp 108) suggest constructivist approaches to learning and instruction have been found to have greater effectiveness in domains such as mathematics and science that require well-structured complexity. In line with this approach, teaching interactive coding and timeline authoring for interactive animation requires specific instructional guidance to successfully scaffold micro concepts prior to problem solving larger more complex and multi-layered encoding. Well structured tuition is required to build students’ technology fluency and system diagnostics in programming.

Learning and instruction associated with the unit include:

  • Problem-based learning through trial and error coding (fixing bugs) and timeline authoring.
  • Peer and individual problem solving.
  • Migrating to new technologies through complex unrehearsed problem solving processes.
  • Backward engineering technology templates rather than blank stage learning.
  • Project-based learning associated with process and product outcomes.
  • Integration of ICTs and scaffolding of new technologies.
  • Student engagement in authentic client design brief and industry project management processes.

At the commencement of EDU8415, cultural and critical literacies emerged as areas of new literacies that needed further attention in my teaching and learning situation. The course readings associated with cultural literacies provided broad exploration of various connections such as;

  • Popular culture and new technologies (Beavis, 2000) recognising the role of popular culture in textual practice and identity for youth culture.
  • Increasing social and cultural diversity and globalisation through technologies and the changing demands of literacy skills for economical growth (Queensland Department of Education, 2002).
  • Exploration of broader views of literacy and text through ecological literacy and meaning making (Rush, 2003).

Three weeks into the course of study I found myself in a dilemma mainly due to the very nature of the technology learning context. Due to the time of review being carried out during the holiday period it was not feasible to gain feedback from student on implementation of the new assessment instruments. Through communication with the course facilitator it was decided that the focus would be a combination of new literacies pedagogy and new literacies restructuring of two assessment instruments.

A platform for the project was needed to present practical changes to the design of the assessment instruments with supporting analysis of pedagogies for incorporating new literacies and multi-modal texts. A website was created as a platform to present the analysis. The domain name was available for registration. Hosting was provided by Webstatic for one year and WordPress was used as the website development platform. WordPress is an open-source publishing platform that can efficiently present and share a broad range of media including;

  • YouTube videos to present new pedagogical approaches, examples of new literacies and multi-modal texts.
  • Interactive multimedia and presentations such as Prezi (open-source online presentation software), student games and animation.
  • Hyperlinks to PDF files, diagrams, tables and figures.
  • JQuery image loading and animation and;
  • Embedded Java scripting for Google Analytics.

The academic readings and course notes for EDU8415 challenged my thoughts on many levels from practical implementation in teaching and learning through to social, technological, and economic aspects. Pedagogies for teaching new literacies and multi-modal texts was the main area of study that challenged my thoughts. The practical implementation provided by Luke and Freebody’s Four Resources Model provided a structure that could be practically integrated and into the assessment instruments being analysed. The model provided a literacy discourse that could be analysed, unpacked and aligned to the literacy elements within the assessment instruments being analysed. The model also provided a common language that helped clearly distinguish interconnections in the four resources framework.

From the course readings on contemporary learning theories Luke and Freebody’s model resembles elements of Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory (1962 cited in Kohler, 2010 pp 25) and constructivist learning theories (Hein, 1991) by advocating the student centred need and capacity to associate, participate, construct, analyse and use text with competence as they progress through their schooling. Luke and Freebody state unmistakably that in order to develop semantic competence, the student needs to draw on upon prior knowledge as they move through their schooling (Lankshear & Knobel, 2004) to understand new textual meanings and images (Luke & Freebody, 1999).

Trans-disciplinary literacy opportunities were expanded upon after reading Unsworth (2001) who mentions research from a variety of perspectives has shown that school subject areas have their own characteristic language forms and hence entail distinctive literate practices (Richards 1978; Applebee 1981; Davies and Greene 1984; Street 1984; Gee 1990; Martin 1993b, cited in Unsworth 2001, pp11).

Further emphasis and incorporation of cultural and critical literacy can be developed by offering students the choice to align the context of their other subjects with elective technology studies. The advantage of trans-disciplinary assessment may perhaps also reduce assessment quantity. Student choice and variation in assessment representation (Kist, 2001) may also increase engagement in learning and further validate new literacies. Technology teachers could assess the multimedia and interactive technology elements while the content in the project is assessed by the partnering faculty. Many cultural aspects can be inherited from other disciplines. To illustrate:

  • Humanities: pop-culture studies, sustainability in society, poverty and economics
  • Science: atoms, molecules and biology animations
  • Maths: animations on Pythagorean theorem, tangents, theorem of calculus
  • English: cyber poetry, digital storytelling, explanation of discourse and Phonetics
  • Health and Physical Education: first aid animation, cardiology – how the heart works

Guest speakers from industry can extend and further developed ethics and critical and cultural literacies. Table 1 below represents three particular industry areas that can support critical and cultural literacies and practice.

Client Management Specialist Technology Specialists Games Specialists
  • project planning phases and management
  • scope of projects
  • how to deal with clients and negotiation skills
  • human resources analysis & communication techniques
  • analysis of engagement and invoicing processes
  • risks in project management
  • quality assurance processes and constraints
  • disaster recovery planning and analysis
  • work flow optimisation
  • methods for installing and optimising media, drivers and software
  • integrating associated technology systems into a project
  • working on and off-site , transporting technology equipment off-site
  • analysis of copyright and intellectual property
  • latest trends and influences in games and animation industries
  • sprite and graphic design
  • coding for interactivity in games and animation
  • game & animation design principles
  • instructional design
  • digital communication techniques
  • integrating sound effects and music

Table.1: Industry specific groups

Over the past four years of post graduate study I have become quite mindful of the importance of new literacies and multimodal texts in teaching and learning. Expanding the boundaries of literacy (Kinzer, 2003) is considered an important aspect of 21st century education. In this day and age teachers need to have an awareness of changing literacy demands on young learners.

Information and communication technology is changing how communities assimilate communication locally and on a global scale. New literacies require certain technology proficiency; however, technology is not the only impetus driver of new literacies of the twenty-first century.  New literacies also require awareness and understanding of cultural literacy, media literacy, visual literacy and critical literacy.


Beavis, C. (2000). Popular culture, textual practice and identity: Literacy and the new technologies in the middle years of schooling. AARE Conference Papers, Deakin University. Retrieved February 09, 2012 from

Caine, R.N., & Caine, G. (1991). Making connections: Teaching and the human brain. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Hein, G. (1991). Constructivist Learning Theory. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from

Kinzer, C.K. (2003). The importance of recognizing the expanding boundaries of literacy. Reading Online, 6(10). Retrieved February 06, 2012 from

Kist, W. (2001). Searching for new literacy classrooms: An invitation to participate in a research study. Retrieved February 07, 2012 from

Kohler, M. (2010). “An Application of Vygotsky’s Social Learning Theory on Calculator Self-Efficacy and Calculator Achievement by Gender”. Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects. Paper 413. Retrieved January 7, 2012 from

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2004). Text-related roles of the digitally ‘at home’1. Retrieved February 06, 2012 from 2004.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leu, D., Kinzer, C.K., Coiro, J.L., & Cammack, D.W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the internet and other information and communication technologies. Reading Online. Retrieved February 6, 2012 from

Lombardi, M. (2007). Approaches That Work: How Authentic Learning Is Transforming Higher Education. Retrieved February 6, 2012 from

Luke, A., & Freebody, P. (1999). A map of possible practices. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from;dn=96162;res=AEIPT.

Luke, A., & Freebody, P. (1999). Further notes on the four resources model. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from

Queensland Department of Education (2002). Literate futures: reading. (pp. 1-26). Cooparoo, Qld: Queensland Department of Education. Retrieved February 8, 2012 from

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Publisher: Corwin Press.

Rush, L.S. (2003). Taking a broad view of literacy: Lessons from the Appalachian Trail thru-hiking community. Reading Online, 6(7). Retrieved December 7, 2011 from

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved January 8, 2012

Thomas, B. (2011). Designing and developing digital games: secondary education learning context. Journal of the Queensland Society for Information Technology in Education QUICK Autumn Edition.

Thomas, D., & Sigmund, T. (2009). Constructivist Instruction : Success or Failure?. Routledge. Retrieved February 06, 2012, from Ebook Library.

Unsworth, L. (2001). Teaching multiliteracies across the curriculum: Changing context of texts and image in classroom practice. Retrieved December 29, 2011 from

Reflectie Log

25/11/11. The general design layout of the website is now up and running as noted by my writing here now. I have started to piece together my concept map of the project. I have also started to investigate several articles on multimodality and assessment obviously as they relate well to the context of my unit of study and course focus.

06/12/11. Investigating the overlap of threads within the course of study

  • Students follow a Design, Develop and Evaluation process/cycle (DDE) utilising a visual diary to represent research, reasoning and justification.

  • We cover creative commons and several other industry associated elements along the way.

  • Multimedia and developing multi-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.

10/12/11. Commenced Prezi design and development

14/12/11. Investigating the kinds of pedagogies being integrated to advocate new literacies?

15/12/11. Brainstorming idea – created a prezi to help idea collation

17/12/11. Creating website banner and editing coding for backgound color and text styles and colour (CSS)

18/12/11. Reviewing games design and development context and relationship to literacy and numeracy-based learning objects for younger learners creates a multilayered learning context.

19/12/11. New literacies and students who are at more risk in terms of being competent in meeting the needs of new literacy. Certainly cultural difference, impairments and economically marginalised students are at risk, however, advances in technology is providing many opportunities for students with impairments (eg hearing and vision) to learn through multi-modal/multimedia and differentiated means. Technology is a tool for transforming learning, just like a tool in a workshop is used to transform a mechanical issue.

20/12/11. Personal reflection prior to teaching profession

28/12/11. Working on Prezi structure and design. Weaved new literacies heading through Prezi.

29/12/11. Embedded media into Prezi e.g. YouTube videos and images

03/1/12. Road trip with family until 14/1/12. Timeline for completion closing soon.

16/1/12. Finalising website. Editing and copying text, images, figures and table to PDF format