Join Learnadoodledastic Mailing List

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to Pageflakes

Add to   Google Reader or Homepage

Useful Website Links

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Getting Anchored in My #CritLit 2010 MOOC


When I started the Critical Literacy 2010 course, I started late and was not exactly sure what the major focus of the course was. In my mind the dominant thought was that this was a course that was primarily concerned with Critical Thinking Skills. Reflecting back at the outset, the course details did outline that:
"Content for the course is being drawn from the presentation Pedagogical Foundations for Personal Learning This presentation provides a frame for an understanding of the critical literacies required in a networked learning environment. Briefly, the elements are as follows: i) Syntax, ii) Semantics, iii) Pragmatics, iv) Cognition, v) Context and vi) Change."
During the course, discussion has emerged around the topic of critical thinking and many of the participants have gone on to suggest practical critical literacies that learners in a networked learning environment need to develop. The six week course as it suggests in the course details does also indeed follow the course themes weekly and these provide a background to the practical critical literacies which are being discussed on the course. I am much more comfortable discussing the practical critical literacies as i previously have not looked at all deeply at the underpinning elements of communication and thinking that are the bedrock of this course. I have not been able to attend the online synchronous presentations and i have not looked at the recordings (included here) yet either:
Impetus to learn more about Philosophy and Communication

Whilst preparing this blog post it seemed that although i believe i have something to contribute to the course that my main focus should be to ensure that i have good (better) grounding in the main underpinning topics and themes. This was a deviation from my intention which was to peruse various blogs from the CritLit 2010 course, looking for further discussion of literacies that might be deemed critical (as in imperative). Instead inspired by Ruth Howard's Blog post Self as a locus of Learning I linked to the following article on the pros and cons of postmodernism. Ruth was directed to this resource by the industrious, forthcoming and very interesting blog postings of John Mak. John's recent postings relating to the topic of critical litercaies include:
Reading the article on the pros and cons of postmodernism.gave me the impetus to get a brief grounding in Philosophy - A subject that i have not previously explored in any great depth. What i discovered from Wikipedia was that "17th century philosophy in the Western world is generally regarded as being the start of modern philosophy,", generally known as the Age of Reason. I learnt that this era was followed in the 18th Century by the Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightment preceded the 19th Century Modernism philosophy, before the 20th century philosophy of Postmodernism came to the foreground.

Looking at the main themes of the course, communication is the nub of all the critical literacies being considered and therefore an appreciation of Linguistics, the study of natural language is a useful attribute. Important to note that linguistics can be divided between the study of language structure (grammar including syntax) and the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Within the field, linguist is used to describe someone who either studies the field or uses linguistic methodologies to study groups of languages or particular languages. Outside the field, this term is commonly used to refer to people who speak many languages or have a great vocabulary. Wikipedia 2010.

A closely related field concerned with the general study of signs and symbols both in language and outside of it is Semiotics and whilst considering the topic of pragmatics in relation to a networked learner living in a multimedia environment it seems that communicative elements are going to be more than just the written or spoken word.

The Critical Literacy Pyramid

Since the last time i blogged i have perused a few more postings (not as many as i would have liked) and have been considering all the different Critical literacies that have been mooted. In trying to make some coherent sense of them i started to categorize them into top level literacies and categorized them accordingly. This needs thinking through a lot more,but in trying to catalogue them i have been considering a critical literacy pyramid model. Thus far i have captured the following mooted critical literacies and have categorized them thus:

  1. Basic Literacy - Reading and Writing
  2. Life Literacies
3. Computer Literacy (Digital Literacy - María Fernanda Arenas) – For example Completing an ECDL certificate could be evidence of this
4. Web Literacy - Navigating the Web including use of social media and appreciation of cultural, ethical, social and legal issues
5. Learning Literacy – Appreciation of how to use Web 2.0 tools and technologies in combination with various learning theories and strategies
  1. I observe data visualisation as an emergent critical literacy - Ruth Howard comment
  2. Information management mentioned as a critical literacy Network Student Youtube Video
  3. Self reflection, self-directed learning (with learning agenda, experimentation & practice), and relationship building (same as 2) John Mak
  4. Would that be the critical literacy that I also aspire to – concise, reflective expression and inquiry? . – John Mak
  5. Is a critical literacy for networked learning to know something about Complexity Theory? - Jenny Mackness
  6. Literacy of Memory –Steve Mackenzie
  7. Would another critical literacy be ASKING QUESTIONS? . John Mak
6. Teaching Literacy - Appreciation of how to use Web 2.0 tools and technologies to create and foster learning activities
What about Critical thinking? - see below

I intend to turn this into a diagram at some point. If you can imagine this as a pyramid with 1 at the bottom.I envisage perhaps a set of critical litercies that logically build on the preceding literacy. I apreciate that there colud be some overlapping/fuzzy areas especially maybe beween 5 and 6. Missing from the list is critical thinking which i'd have as an external force from level 4 onwards, (maybe earlier?). I need to think a lot more about it. This is my first stab, i am sure there are other top level literacies and many many more sub literacies ( or maybe not - maybe the list needs to be pruned or merged already). The main thing i wanted to do was to identify some top level literacies, so that all those literacies mentioned can much more easily be related to their purpose.
María Fernanda Arenas wrote a very interesting blog post relating pragmatics to digital literacy and along with Ruth set me off on this quest to know more about the underlying principles of communication and also increased my interest in trying to categorize critical literacies as i have never liked the term 'digital literacy' - it just conjures up images of zero's and one's to me.

What about Critical thinking?Again
Note that this blog post has drawn uncritically from Wikipedia for ease of reference. I generally find Wikipedia a reliable place to get initial descriptions, definitions and overviews from which i can delve into more deeply at a later date. I have found that i have used my blogging in this course more as a storage place for useful links for latter reference. By writing a blog post though i feel as though i have engaged much more with the material in trying to weave the links into a coherent written piece and i love the easy accessibility in retrieving this information (my learning) at a later date. Blogging is great for capturing the learning?


Sui Fai John Mak said...

Hi Steve,
Very interesting post, that articulates well on various new media literacies and critical thinking that we have shared and discussed. Like to learn how the "taxonomy" look likes...
Thanks again Steve for sharing this lucid post with further insights.

Ruth Howard said...

Hi Steve I'm wondering if the learner was at the hub/node (not something you really said) then possibly a different, less hierarchical model (than a pyramid) might be more efficient at conveying the relationships between literacies and learners and resources/others/content/created products? Something more osmotic perhaps?

Steve Mackenzie said...

Hi Ruth,

I was also thinking of a spyrograph type circular model which would tie in more with what your are thinking. I'll get some visuals up soon.

maybe if you are interested we could meet up in a synchronous session next week and thrash out a model (easy done in hour or two :-)). I'll ask a few of the others and see if we can get a bit of live interaction

Sui Fai John Mak said...

Hi Steve,
Great summary on literacies. Good to have some live interaction. May be the main constraint would be the time, as we are living in different time zone, where Australia is 9 hrs ahead of UK.
I would be sleeping whilst you are awake, & vice versa.
May be some chat over FB could help. Or a Skype conversation, but limited to 3.

jenny mackness said...

Great post Steve. It has really helped me in making sense of this course. Jenny

Jenny Mackness said...

Hi Steve - thanks for your 'visit' to my blog. Yes - it would be great to meet up sometime. I am based in the Lancaster area - but being independent I am not affiliated to a University. Hopefully our paths will cross at some time. You're not by any chance going to be at the JISC sustaining innovation event at Royal Holloway on July 29th are you?


Add me to your network

Lijit Search