Developing students’ digital literacies

Grainne Conole,, Mar 16, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In my presentation today I discussed what I call the 'critical literacies' and put them in context with other aspects of the connectivist pedagogy I have been describing over the years. You can see this diagram here. This can be contrasted with 'digital literacy' (or any of the other literacies that have been touted over the years) which, from my perspective at least, represent content areas rather than literacies. So how do they get to be called literacies at all? Well I think if we see them in a certain light, we can see the relation. Here, for example, is a guide released last year by JISC on the seven elements of digital literacies. To understand them as literacies (or as elements of a literacy), we have to understand the critical literacies for each of those. This creates the following grid:

Why do I represent it this way? Well, I argue that the underlying literacies are the new literacies in today's environment. They are what traditional literacy, digital literacy, numeracy, emotional literacy, and all the other literacies have in common. To become digitally literate, you must become literate in syntax, semantics, and the rest. (I would also argue JISC should reconsider their categories - why put collaboration and carfeer together? Why join identity and career?)

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