Some defenders of the new digital cultures have acted as though youth can simply acquire these skills on their own without adult intervention or supervision. Children and youth do know more about these new media environments than most parents and teachers. In fact, we do not need to protect them so much as engage them in critical dialogues that help them to articulate more fully their intuitive understandings of these experiences.To say that children are not victims of media is not to say that they, any more than anyone else, have fully mastered what are, after all, complex and still emerging social practices.
"Literacy and popular culture" - Jackie Marsh & Elaine Millard
Central issue: “(…) to make teachers more familiar with some of the literacy practices experienced by children in their homes and communities and to support teachers in using these to motivate positive learning experiences in school.” (JMEM, p.4)
> Presumption: “It is only with the development of our own awareness of the ways in which they attract and sustain interest, that we can engage our pupils more critically with the multiplicity of voices that surround them." (JMEM, p.7)
Observations about culture, media and literacy:
”(…) we are currently living through a period of rapid transition from a linear, print-based and page-bound culture, which developed from the introduction of the printing press, to a screen-based, hyperlinked mode of communication. Here, information is in constant flux and is only arrested for the moment of reception, when a deliberate act is made to save a semi-permanent version on disc or paper." (JMEM, p.5) + "It has ever been the case the each older generation feels the culture of younger people to be less demanding in content and to mark a diminution of expertise, or complexity in presentation." (JMEM, p.3)
» REMARK: Paradoxically, these comments are often uttered by people whom also complain frequently about ‘not being able to deal with in the immense and chaotic flood of information in the digital environment’ as well as the ‘insurmountable complexity of operating digital technology’.
»> Multiliteracies: “(…) when it comes to developing a critical literacy, reading literary works is (…) not enough, nor do they hold the only key to effective entry into the kinds of empathetic and self-actuating encounters with human experience that its advocates would have us believe.” (JMEM, p.4)
> “The electronic media are able to take children into new worlds, create new perspectives on their own and other people’s lives and allow the stories of human experience to be shaped and reshaped into ever changing messages, which are yet able to retain something of the past.” (JMEM, p.6) ***Metaphors/narratives We Live By - George Lakoff (1980)
“(…) we tentatively suggest that recognizing the social and cultural worlds of children and allowing such discourses to creep under the classroom door will encourage their literacy development in a number of important ways.” (JMEM, p.183)
1) “(…) it will provide children with the message that they do not have to cast off the identity of home and community as they enter the classroom and become consumers of a cultural universe in which they have to search for glimmers of familiar narratives.” (JMEM, p.183)
2) “(…) literature from the monolithic canon is often presented in ways which do little to locate it within the cultural worlds children inhabit. Yet children will have more interest (…) if their attention is drawn to the way in which contemporary authors draw on it in their work.” (JMEM, p.187)
» REMARK: This seems to be debatable, seeing how even adults often seem barely interested in intertextuality (layers and details of texts).
3) “(…) it can be a useful means of developing critical literacy skills. Social discourses often contain conflicting messages and children need to be able to deconstruct these texts in order to tease out the complexities. Nowhere are these dualistic discourses more clearly demonstrated than in the media.” (JMEM, p.187)
4) “[it] can provide opportunities for creating social communities in which children and teachers can engage in discourses that cement shared understanding and interests. (…) We make sense of ourselves in relation to others and popular culture presents us with opportunities to get to know those others, or at least representations of them. Therefore, when we acquire particular texts or artifacts, we are acquiring a set of social practices. (…)It provides a forum in which they can explore questions of identity and positioning in relation to others, although (…) this exploration is channeled into hegemonic discourses (…) Popular culture can also provide a meeting ground for children, a place where childhood interests overlap and form lines of communication between disparate groups and individuals.” (JMEM, p.190-191)
“The challenge for educators is to deconstruct these seemingly natural responses with children and enable them to see that there are other positions they can take within discursive practice." (Lowe, 1998, p.219)
Central issue: “Because contemporary children’s play is often bound up with popular cultural icons which are unfamiliar to many adults, suspicion is cast as to its inherent value." (JMEM, p.45)
> “Play is embedded within socio-cultural practices and so is intimately related to popular culture. (…) The construction of play within an idealized and sanitized version of childhood ignores the fact, in reality, play is as diverse as the children (and adults) who engage in it." (JMEM, p.44) + "Children see themselves reading and writing in empowering contexts which may contrast with those times in the life of the nursery and classroom when literacy is associated with some level of coercion." (JMEM, p.50)
Presumption: ”Children are constantly engaged in decoding the reality represented in the world around them, interpreting it according to their own socio-cultural practices and experiences and then encoding it, using whatever range of materials are available to them." (JMEM, p.48) + "Play appears to function as a means of enabling children to work out things for themselves, whether that is in social, emotional, cognitive or physical domains. (…) play can provide a means for children to explore difficult issues (…).” (JMEM, p.45) + “(…) play enables children to enter realms of fantasy and desire in which they can explore issues of independence and agency.” (JMEM, p.50)
> Theoretical base:
» Characteristics according to Garvey (1977, p.10):
* intrinsic motivation
* active engagement
» Vygotsky (1978, p.102) on play:
“(…) play creates a zone of proximal development of the child. In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behaviour (…) play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development.”
» Types of play according to Hutt et. al. (1989):
* Epistemic play: “(…) involves finding out about objects through problem-solving and investigation [which] lead[s] to cognitive development, to the acquisition of new knowledge.” (JMEM, p.47)
* Ludic play: “(…) involves playing with objects; not finding out about them, but what can be done with them; [which] may only indirectly lead to learning.” (JMEM, p.47)
» Experiencing meaning (Johnson, 1990) and experimenting with symbols (Meek, 1991) leading to ability for multimodal communication:
* Meaning: “(…) play serves as an important cognitive consolidating function by assisting in the child’s construction of meaning from experience.” (Wood & Attfield, p.24)
* Symbols: “(…) play can allow children to experiment with a range of forms for representing the world, [it] can introduce children ‘to a wide range of symbolic systems’ (Meek, p.88)." (JMEM, p.48)
»> “Play can help to develop ‘inner speech’, a running narrative on children’s actions and thoughts.” (JMEM, p.49)
“Play enables children to encode multi-modally, challenging prevailing notions of what constitutes within the usual confines of a nursery or classroom." (JMEM, p.48)
> “(…) literacy is not a narrowly defined set of experiences, but a broad interaction with symbols and representations (…)"(JMEM, p.48)
» “Ultimately, literacy is a social practice (Barton, 1994; Barton & Hamilton, 1998). Through literacy, we communicate with each other, cement existing discourses, shape new ones and fashion out the structure of our lives. (…) all communities use literacy, in its broadest sense, to build common structures.” (JMEM, p.191)
“[Children] transform the texts they meet through television, film, video, comics and magazines and use them to create shared social discourses which work out the concerns of childhood. Thus, children become skilled in weaving narrative tapestries using whatever glittering threads attract their attention.” (JMEM, p.60)
At E3 2012 in Los Angeles, Sony showed off the new Wonderbook platform for the PlayStation 3. Making use of the PlayStation Eye camera and Move controller, the new title “Book of Spells” features new writing from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and aims to provide an immersive reading experience.
Find the Future: The Game is a pioneering, interactive experience created especially for NYPL’s Centennial by famed game designer Jane McGonigal, with Natron Baxter and Playmatics.
Through a once-in-a-lifetime, overnight adventure played inside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and an ongoing online game, Find the Future: The Game combines real-world missions with virtual clues and online collaboration — all inspired by 100 works from the amazing collections of The New York Public Library.
“The game is designed to empower young people to find their own futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and objects of people who made an extraordinary difference,” says McGonigal.
Find the Future: The Game kicked off on May 20, 2011 as part of NYPL’s Centennial Festival weekend, with a “Write All Night” event inside the landmark building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
Players (18 and older) explored the building’s 70 miles of stacks, and, using laptops and smartphones, following clues to such treasures as the Library’s copy of the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. After finding each object, each of the 500 players wrote short personal essays inspired by their quest — for example, how would they write the Declaration? Winning the game meant writing a collaborative book based on these personal stories about the future, and this volume will be added to the Library’s collections.
Find the Future: The Game can be played by anyone across the city and the world using your smartphones or computers, or on free computers at any of NYPL’s 90 locations. Start playing now!
I think when you buy a book of the iBookstore, or just a book in general now, with all this technology, I think this is what an application should be. You should get all this extra stuff, it’s possible now. When you open up a traditional book, it’s just a book and you can only fit so much information into a book. But now we’ve got all this stuff, you can put videos… I mean it’s got audio clips here guys. It’s just insane…
Another reader states:
I don’t want to read another book without all of these cool extras! It’s definitely worth it, even if you’ve already read the book. Or especially if you’ve already read it…because I’m getting insights that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I don’t usually write reviews, but I felt compelled to write one here because this stands out as such a great reason to “read” a book on an iPad.
And another one:
As a literature junkie, this is exactly the digital book experience I’ve been waiting for! This App has so much incredible content, it really takes a classic novel and gives it a fresh perspective. And it’s incredibly user friendly. This is an awesome way to read a book. I wish all digital books were like this!
We’ve become spoiled thanks to technology (whether this is a good thing or a bad thing doesn’t really matter I think). Our expectations of ‘what a good book should be’ are pretty high, and a traditional print book has become ‘just a book’.
A promotion video for SoundCloud.
Here is a transcript of the opening lines…
The Internet wasn’t always an ideal place for music. Sites - namely social media platforms and blogs - would feature music, but there weren’t many sites rightly designed for the publishing, promotion and discussion of music. SoundCloud helped to find this niche just a few years ago, and since its birth in 2007 it’s become a go-to platform through which artists and record labels alike can publish, discover, distribute and receive music.
"The Data Self (A Dialectic)" - Nathan Jurgenson
Central issue: “The problem is that our online presence is too often seen as only the byproduct of our offline selves. Sometimes we talk about the way online profiles are passive reflections of who we are and what we do and other times we acknowledge our profiles are also partly performative adjustments to the “reality” of the person. However, in all the discussion of individuals creating this content what is often neglected is how the individual, in all of their offline experience, behavior and existence, is simultaneously being created by this very online data. We cannot describe how a person creates their Profile without always acknowledging how the Profile creates the person." (NJ)
> Def: agentic bias = “(…)the tendency to conceptually grant too much power to individuals to create their online Profiles by neglecting the ways in which individuals are simultaneously being created by their digital presence." (NJ)
> Def: augmented reality = “(…) the perspective that views the on and offline as enmeshed, opposed to the ‘digital dualist’ bias to view atoms and bits as separate." (NJ)
”[Rob] Horning describes how we ‘convert ourselves into data’; we are ‘monitoring [our] vital statistics and uploading them for analysis and aggregation.’ Further, Horning goes on to say, ‘data collection is slowly becoming the ideological basis of the self’;’interactions within social networks are now easily captured’; ‘The assumption is that by letting Facebook capture and process everything, a more reliable version of the self than our own memory can give us will be produced.’ And Horning cites Facebook as saying ‘the Timeline to be a place for self-expression: A way for users to reveal who they are and what their lives are about’." (NJ)
> Def: data self = “(…) how self creates, produces, collects and revels itself through data." (NJ)
» “However, so far, lots of attention has been given to how the self creates the data, what I called the agentic bias above; but what about when this data also creates the self? Both considerations must be simultaneously taken into account to understand either." (NJ)
+ “To only focus on how the self produces data is to miss how data influence our experience of the world; how we behave within it and how data creates that same self that creates the data." (NJ)
> “I propose a dialectical understanding of the causality between the individual/offline/self and the data/online/Profile." (NJ)
> Remark: “Taken to the extreme, the conceptual opposite of the agentic bias would be a structure-bias that views people as only the result of our Profiles." (NJ)
» Observation: “Today, we are always living with the camera in-hand; we can always document our lives via status updates, tweets, check-ins, photos, videos, etc. Like those on reality TV, social media users are deeply influenced by the fact of near omnipresent documentation potential." (NJ)
>”More than just a better-than-accurate presentation of self, the fact that the Profile exists changes my experience and behavior as a person. (…) we must go further than just potential changes in behavior. What I find most interesting is how the Profile changes our experience of that behavior." (NJ)
> “Maybe you wouldn’t change the songs you listen to or what paths you travel when on vacation simply because of social media self-documentation. However, the fact that one can increasingly document their life certainly changes how we experience the world." (NJ)
Conclusion: “(…) the implications of all this is that we cannot continue to view the Person as the temporal and causal antecedent and the Profile as something that is the subsequent result. We have clear evidence that the person is also being co-constructed by the Profile. Experience creates documentation and documentation creates experience." (NJ)
"We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us." (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: the extensions of man, 1964)
For further discussion on the essay/blogpost, visit: thesocietypages.org)
"Ethnographic Presence in a Nebulous Setting" - Jason Rutter & Gregory W.H. Smith
Aim: “Our approach to ethnographic work was shaped in party by our prior research experience. (…) we drew upon some standard interactionist and ethnomethodological conceptions. We planned to use interview and observational methods to describe and analyse the everyday activities and experiences of newsgroup members. We were interested in examining the ‘native’s point of view’ and in constructing ‘thick description' (Geertz 1973) of the life-worlds of newsgroup members. In particular, we were struck by the opportunity to capture on computer file all the messages transmitted over a given period - to ground our analytic observations in the details of message exchange." (JRGWHS, p.81)
Central issue: “The negotiation of absence and presence is an important ethical issue, not just in online ethnography but also in its more conventional variety. In the field the ethnographer may make considerable efforts to mask and make redundant the research role. (…) For the online ethnographer the problem is transfigured: how to be seen as a person or a researcher when you cannot be seen at all? (…) While we can accept the general rule that practising ethnographers should declare their research identity in the field and be reasonably open about their research agenda, the play of absence and presence has specific implications for online research.” (JRGWHS, pp.88-89)
- "It is very difficult for the online ethnographer to maintain a stable presence in a virtual environment when people cannot see that you are there. This is made worse with the constantly changing composition of many virtual environments as new people arrive and others leave - mostly unannouced. Ethically, how are we supposed to negotiate informed consent?” (JRGWHS, p.89)
> “Do we opt for maintaining the letter of the law with regular postings that announce our research identities and our presence as researchers or do we, after a general announcement of our presence, slip into a more naturalistic mode? The former caries with it the risk that the researcher alienates regular users of their online environment whereas the latter, advocated by Ward (1999), means that it becomes ‘the participants’ responsibility to read the message’.” (Ibid.)
» “The compromise we opted for was the adoption of a specifically non-personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and mention of our research in our signature. Ironically, as discussed above, the most effective tool for gaining trust and negotiating consent was not our online activities but our self-presentations in the non-virtual venues of RumRendezvous meetings and face-to-face interviews. (…) we found that those whom we had met face-to-face vouched for our credibility to those with whom we were not acquainted non-virtually.” (Ibid.)
- "Further ethical issues exist when approaching notions of what kind of ‘space' online ethnography takes place in. For example, how public is the interaction that goes on within Internet newsgroups? Often a very naive perspective is taken on this problem, with authors arguing that online interaction in MUDs, newsgroups and on listservs is public in an absolute sense that has little need for qualification.” (Ibid.)
> “Just because talk takes place in public it does not mean that that talk is public. (…) Those involved have a recognition that their words and actions are viewable by others but this does not mean that everything that goes on in the groups is essentially public discourse and as such ethically available to the online researcher. (…) even if we accept the discourse of online interaction as public, what right does that give us as researchers to appropriate that talk and do with it what we will?" (JRGWHS, pp.89-90)
» “However, the decisions that need to be made are to be done so topically and contextually and they are essentially reliant on the researcher’s sensitivity towards the environment (virtually or otherwise) that they are exploring.” (JRGWHS, p.90)
»> “If we are uncertain as to the public/private status of the sites of our online ethnography, how can we begin to approach the ethics of identity and anonymity within our work?” (Ibid.)
… Strangely: “However, what we discovered is that RumCommers generally did not share our concerns for confidentiality. When interviewed, many expressed disappointment that they would not be personally identified by our publications. While we ware sympathetic to these sentiments and remain extremely grateful to the research participation of a number of RumCommers who deepend our understanding of the newsgroup, our commitment to norms of confidentiality embedded in disciplinary ethical codes was always going to override these expressions of a desire for recognition." (Ibid.)
» Remark: it seems as to the ethics of research are actually ‘blinding’ the Rutter & Smith in this case. It looks like they are focused to much on the ethical implications of the ‘public nature’ of the online space, rather than on it’s power to motivate people to participate… Apparently, being recognized as a valuable contributor seems to be important to some (if not most) online participants.
Conclusion: “If ethnography is successfully to illuminate online worlds, then an adaptive approach (Hine 2000) that seeks to address the distinctive features of those worlds has much to recommend it. (…) Among (…) attitudes and stances, immersion - sustained presence in the culture by the ethnographer - seems indispensable, even where that presence is nominally accomplished through conventional markers of absence.” (JRGWHS, p.92)
"Rethinking and Retooling Language & Literature Teaching" - Soetaert, Mottart & Bonamie
Central issue: “The New Millennium inspires us to wonder about future developments. Some people are longing for the past - felt as a better past, in fact a kind of utopia. Others are yearning for a new future, very often a kind of techno-utopia. In education we have to be more practical, we cannot negate the conditions of the times we are living in when they are [sic] a-changing. Escaping in an allegedly better past or an unknown future is not the best way to deal with the challenges of this Millennium. (…) Today teachers are confronted with the declining importance of existing literacies, and the growing importance of new kinds of literacies. Again, for some this is promising, for others we are in a deep crisis: “… teachers were at loss as to how to bridge this huge gulf between lived experience outside the school and the formal requirement of participation and achievement in the classroom" (McCarthy, 1997: 133). (…)" (RSAMBB, p.1)
»> “We suggest that the concept literacy creates an interesting perspective to start our reflection about what is happening today, certainly in (language) teaching. (…) we would like to explore how digitalization has influenced our culture in general and the teaching of language and culture in particular - from the perspective of changing literacies triggered by changing tools." (RSAMBB, pp.2-3)
Language state of the art: (for a brief overview also see: Vlieghe, J., Rutten, K., & Soetaert, R. (2011) State-of-the-Art report on studies of literacy and learning in and through social media. EMSOC SOTA)
- traditional perspective
- communicative turn
- post-modern perspective
- digital turn
- constructivist turn…
» Strong ties with: Cultural Studies and Discourse Analysis
- linguistic/rhetorical turn
» “[The] rhetorical turn is inspired by linguists who have stressed a continuum between orality and literacy and the existence of ‘multiple literacies’ and multiple intelligent ways to use language (Heath, 1983; Scribner and Cole, 1981; Labov, 1972). More and more the superiority of (…) any elitist culture, language, discourse… was problematized." (RSAMBB, p.16)
> “This linguistic turn can also be described as an anthropological turn: different cultures reflect different ways with language, different ‘ways with words’. (…) Villanueva’s (1999) conclusion for language teaching is deeply postmodern: there is no ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’. ‘There is however, switching codes, adjusting the language to fit the situation' (177). (…) It means we should become discours analysts, rhetorical critics (ibid).” (RSAMBB, p.16-17)
Conclusion: “(…) we need ‘to denaturalise and make strange' what we have learned and mastered (New London Group, 1996: 86). Indeed, becoming students of our own changing culture and language." (RSAMBB, p.19)
HYPERAKT: Rebranding for Teacher Prestige
Could A Rebranding Help Give Teachers The Prestige They Deserve?Hyperakt’s design does away with the hokey, infantilizing teacher tropes.The Brooklyn-based design studio Hyperakt schools teachers on honing their image through branding.
It’s a crappy time to be a teacher. The budget cuts. The overcrowded classrooms. The infuriating constraints of No Child Left Behind. To add insult to injury, teachers just aren’t represented terribly well in the media, whether they’re depicted as secular saints with apples on their desks or lazy union-enabled incompetents who hate your children. Could new branding help?
The Brooklyn design studio Hyperakt thinks so and has thusly devised a visual identity scheme that uses the metaphor of “connecting the dots” to portray teachers in a fresh, cheery light. “The visual language of these connected dots can be found in toys, in letter tracing, in classroom brainstorms, on the whiteboards of innovators, in maps, in molecular structures and beyond,” the designers say. “Connecting the dots allows us to create a boundless visual language that celebrates teaching and learning in a way we can all be proud of.”Hyperakt came up with the concept at the behest of Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360, a public radio program about art and pop culture that has asked designers to rebrand everything from the gay-pride flag to Valentine’s Day. The impetus this go round: Kate Ahearn, a Haverhill, Massachusetts-based teacher, who wrote to Studio 360 last fall entreating them to redesign the image of teachers. “I have been teaching for 15-plus years and have enough of what I deem ‘apple crapple’ to last me a lifetime,” she told them.
Hyperakt’s design thankfully does away with any hint of “apple crapple.” And all the other hokey, borderline infantilizing teacher tropes for that matter: ABCs, chalkboards, cartoonishly oversized pencils. Instead, the main component is the word “teach” rendered in chic Chevin, with the letterforms partially dotted and set against a school bus-yellow background. Okay, so you can’t eliminate all the hokey tropes.
From there, the logo can be easily customized. You can add on your school’s name or state or your subject matter. You can also generate a host of additional branding materials that transcend geographic locations and grade levels. That “Nurturing Brilliance” banner above would look just as good in a 10th-grade A.P. English classroom in Walnut Creek as it would in a kindergarten class in East Harlem. (And it certainly looks better than those tired “celebrities read” posters.)
Studio 360 featured the concept earlier this month, and since then, Hyperakt has developed an open-source companion website, InspireTeachers.org, full of connect-the-dots-themed logos, posters, calendars, and classroom signs. “Anyone can download the visuals and use them to celebrate teaching!” Hyperakt’s Deroy Peraza says. “We hope it spreads far and wide.”
That’s not to suggest that the design is some kind of quick fix. “We won’t pretend that a fresh coat of paint on the visual language used to represent teachers is going to solve all of the problems [facing the profession],” Peraza says. “But we do believe that attracting the brightest minds to the profession can sow the seeds of change. A visual language that does justice to the intellectual and creative development teachers help guide in students could be a powerful asset in attracting talent to the profession and instilling pride in teachers across the board.”
[Images courtesy of Hyperakt]