Five New Literacies of Web 2.0

August 22, 2006

Paul Allison, in his latest post at Teachers Teaching Teachers, puts forward the idea that there could perhaps be five “new literacies of web 2.0.” He then states five web 2.0 tools that are his top choices for use in school this year.

I wonder if he’s confusing matters by equating tools with technologies of literacy. I’d much prefer to think of this question of new literacies in the way Don Leu frames it in his chapter of the forthcoming book from the International Reading Association titled: What Research has to Say About Reading Instruction:

The new literacies include the skills, strategies, and insights necessary to successfully exploit the rapidly changing information and communication technologies that continuously emerge in our world. A more precise definition of the new literacies may never be possible to achieve since their most important characteristic is that they regularly change; as new technologies for information and communication continually appear, new literacies emerge (Bruce, 1997; Leu, in press a; Reinking, 1998). Moreover, these changes often take place faster than we are able to completely evaluate them. Regular change is a defining characteristic of the new literacies.

This simple observation has profound consequences for literacy and literacy education. The continuously changing technologies of literacy mean that we must help children learn how to learn new technologies of literacy. In fact, the ability to learn continuously changing technologies for literacy may be a more critical target than learning any particular technology of literacy itself.

The point, then, isn’t to come up with any finite number of “new literacies” to teach and/or learn, since they are ever changing, but rather try to understand aspects of these new literacies that are widely applicable in relation to new technologies.

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One Response to “Five New Literacies of Web 2.0”


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