Literacy Guide

INTRODUCTION TO LITERACY:

Transliteracy overcomes the debate around traditional literacy versus digital literacy to include all communication types. “Several competing concepts of literacy have emerged including digital literacy, media literacy, visual literacy, and information technology fluency, but there is a need for a comprehensive framework based on essential information proficiencies and knowledge. New media literacy and transliteracy have also responded to the rapid and ongoing changes in technology. As part of a metaliteracy reframing, we argue that producing and sharing information are critical activities in participatory Web 2.0 environments” ( Mackey and Jacobson, P. 1) Whether you use the terms transliteracy, information literacy, media literacy, digital literacy, or metaliteracy; the terminology seems burgeoning but the concepts are the same. We need to be a literate society in whatever communication device we are using.  One thing that has changed in our culture is that in education it is no long “answer the question” it is now “question the answer”!  The challenge exists now for educators on what forms of literacy to focus on in order for students to know how to use the tools in order to aquire the knowledge they need for any specified subject. Literacy is not about just reading and writing anymore. Listed below are important literacies for middle school students.

TRADITIONAL LITERACY:

Traditional Literacy is reading and writing.  By middle school this is a case by case issue, however reading and writing in the digital age is less centered on paper bound books or pencil/pen and paper.

INFORMATION LITERACY:

Typing and Text Creation

Being able to type proficiently on a keyboard is essential. Even keyboards however are becoming outdated. Students should also be aware of touch screens, and know how to access various digital menus in order to navigate different forms of text production in the digital age. Document creation in various formats and with various programs will be needed. Examples of this are the difference between using notes programs and document programs regarding formatting options. The basics of formatting and saving a document are sufficient at this level.

Visual and Audial Creation

Being able to create presentations using audio and visual applications are important. This may be as simple as using a devices microphone to create an audio file, slide presentation programs or webcams for videos.

Tool Literacy

One example of tools is the calculator. Calculators come in many forms in our digital culture and are more often found on computer screens, tablet screens and phones. Unless students are in an educational or business setting hand held devices dedicated solely to calculations are not used.  A basic understanding of spreadsheet operations, gathering and measuring data, graphs, charts, and formulas for creating graphing visuals is also important. Beyond just saving information in files on a computer, students must be able to know how to capture information that is not downloadable. An example of this is a snipping tool, or screen capture video program. Because tools are always changing I won’t try to create an all-inclusive list here.

Accessing Digital Data

Effective search methods on digital devices will need to be taught. This not only includes how to access text online or on devices, or web pages, but also visual and audio access. Students need to know how to access, podcasts, informational videos, and how to navigate them on various devices.

Navigation

Knowing how to access and navigate EBooks, educational websites, online libraries and databases will be important for students when reading and researching text in the digital age. Adaptions for audio presentation, enlarging text on the screen and other accessibility options is also beneficial to address.

Evaluating digital data

Evaluation of websites and digital information is crucial for students to determine the difference between factual information, scientific theory, opinion, propaganda, and falsehood.

Citing Sources and understanding copyright

Knowing where to find citation information and accepted forms for citation is helpful for students in the evaluation of material, and presentation of research. Understanding copyrights and creative commons is beneficial well collecting, presenting and sharing digital data.

Collaboration

Collaboration tools like online documents, chat boards, video or telephonic conferencing, mind maps and other cooperative tools can be introduced with the benefits of education and future work or interest collaboration as examples.

Safety Online

Being able to identify and protect one’s self against phishing activities, bulling, and information theft and privacy issues online is essential.

Netiquette

Online communication rules and cultural norms for politeness and appropriate behavior should be taught and enforced.

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