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1:2 New Literacies

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What are the so called “new literacies”?

Also referred to as “digital literacy (Tyner, 1998), multiliteracies (Unsworth, 2001; Kress, 2003; Luke, 2000, 2003; The New London Group, 1996; Cope & Kalantzis, 2000), and the literacies of technology (Selfe & Hawisher, 2004)” (Thomas, 2008, p. 2), new literacies encompass all that are related to technology, as Thomas (2008, p. 2) refers to it they are all “technology-mediated literacies.”

Lankshear and Knobel (2006) argue there are two perspectives concerning the way new literacies are regarded, paradigmatic and ontological.

Paradigmatic refers to a way of thinking.  It is concerned with the approach to literacy, in particular a socio-cultural approach (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006).  This approach argues that literacy is a matter of social practices that are bound with social, institutional and cultural relationships and can only be understood when within context (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006).   Gee (2004, p. 1) contends

“when you read, you are always reading something in some way.  You are never just reading ‘in general’ but not reading anything in particular.  For example you can read the Bible as history or literature or as a self-help guide or in many other ways.”

He continues by arguing that reading and thinking are both social achievements connected to social groups (Gee, 2004).  He claims that we indentify with several different social groups, and when we read and think we can do so from different points of view.  For example I may read a text as a female, as an Australian, or as a single woman in my late 20s.

Ontological is concerned more with the content, it refers to the new ‘things’ that are being sold on the market, the chronologically recent forms of “digital-electronic technologies” and new forms of “texts and text production” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006, p. 25).  Lankshear and Knobel (2006, p. 25) explain the emergence of chronologically recent hardware is accompanied by a new “ethos” or “mindset” concerned with social and cultural relations, priorities and values.


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