Chapter Five Becoming Digitally Literate


It is apparent that digital media and new communication technologies are not only influencing our online interactions and the teaching of literacy skills, but also influencing our written communication. However, the effects of digital technology are far more extensive than just affecting written language: it is also shaping literacy skills in quite innovative ways. If we consider the multimodal features of the digital world, and our ability to extract meaning not just from traditional print (books) but also through visual (photographs, videos, animations) and audio materials (music, audio narration, sound effects), then we can see how literacy skills are being extended. Literacy occurs online through a variety of media including text messaging and social networking sites with tweeting seen as a new literacy practice (Greenhow & Gleason, 2012). So how have these new communication tools shaped our understanding and definition of literacy? In contrast to some of the more traditional definitions of literacy, which focus primarily on reading, spelling and the written exposition of ideas, the term ‘digital literacies’ is encouraging us to think beyond such narrow definitions and to recognize a broader skill-set that includes acquiring and evaluating information within a multimodal environment. While we have long been surrounded by visual imagery through television, films, videos and computers, images rather than words are ...

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