Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Student Achievement in New Literacies for the 21st Century Middle School Journal
Following up on The Natives are Restless, we take another look at the way many educators now see the web and new media. William Kist, a professor of Curriculum and Instruction, documents what he dubs "New Media Classrooms". In these, teachers regularly use Macromedia Flash®, Powerpoint®, web design projects, etc. to engage and motivate students. They also use media old and new as a subject of learning - including classic film and advertising technique.

Kist's observations assure us that the unengaged become highly engaged in such classrooms and that enthusiasm for learning and cooperative work jumps.

What Kist does not do is provide any assurance that the topics of a traditional education in math, science, history, cultural literacy are improved for the average kid in such classrooms. We can assume that the student who changed from one in 4 days attendance to daily is better off; we can't jump to the conclusion that all are learning more in such a curriculum. (Alas, Kist's book, New Literacies In Action: Teaching And Learning In Multiple Media, veres into search-for-meaning type prose, and in the end muddles more than clarifies the article). Still, the conclusion, "Ultimately, a print-centric focus for student achievement in our schools may be holding some [my emphasis] of our adolescent readers and writers back from achieving to their utmost capabilities..." rings true enough.

In another Ed journal article, Toward a Theory of New Literacies Emerging From Internet and Other Information and Communication Technologies Leu et al. conclude, "It will be up to each of us to recognize the continually changing nature of literacy and to develop a rich understanding of these changes."

Do we indeed need to change the definition of literacy?

No comments: