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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Critical Literacy – The Struggle Moves to a Different Arena – My Arena #CritLit2010

A snapshot of discussion around the term ‘Critical literacies’

The topic of what is actually meant by Critical Literacy has been raised in a number of places. Heli Nurmi an educationalist with many years experience has some great blog posts around the topic of critical literacy in this course and asks the questions “are we going to learn anything new, will we learn about new knowledge building, new media literacies (yes, but what?) or is it only technology which develops?” Heli’s three initial blog post give plenty of food for thought:

To guide others on the course Ulop O’Taat highlights the following text with this signposting - So Ken, if you and others are struggling with what is meant by critical literacies in this course, re-read the opening moodle page.

Critical, as the course is not just about finding out how to use the latest technologies for learning, but to look critically at the Web and its underlying structures. Literacies, as it is more about capabilities to be developed than about the acquisition of a set of skills”.

Ken Anderson in his post on Critical Literacy had previously highlighted his struggle to understand what is meant by Critical Literacies in the context of this course. He identifies two themes from the course information:

  • CL: literacies critical to functioning in a PLE. This definition suggests tool familiarity
  • CL: abilities related to critical thinking, reading, writing i.e. logic skills, syntax etc. as noted in the course outline

And makes an additional observation about the course

  • What I have really found interesting is Kop’s statement that the heart of the ‘course’ is about who controls access to information. Is this what this ‘course’ is primarily concerned with? Those that control the means of distribution (of information)… Will this be a course in Marxism?

My own sense-making of the term ‘Critical Literacies’ and my subsequent learning strategy

I more or less identified the same two strands as Ken, which i referred to in an earlier blog post. In trying to establish what is meant by critical literacies in the context of this course I focused on what I considered to be the two most relevant meanings of ‘critical’ that come to mind. These being:

  1. Critical as imperative. i.e. imperative literacies to have
  2. Critical as in being analysed and evaluated i.e. Literacies that analyse and evaluate

Additionally mindful of the stated aims/purposes of the course I also was aware that i need to consider the following element of criticality.

3. Critical as in looking at (analysing and evaluating) the Web and its underlying structures: i.e. sing traditional Critical thinking skills to analyse and evaluate the web and its underlying structures.

It seems to me that there is already a well established set of generally agreed critical thinking skills – therefore in relation to point 2 above I think the question to be pursued is “What technologies will best facilitate traditional critical thinking skills?”.

With regard to point 1, 'critical' as imperative seems to me to be the most important thing to focus on for the self directed learner in a networked personal learning environment and so far on this course the following critical literacies have been offered from the floor or have been found by me in text or video content that i have perused: My intention is to continue to trawl through the CritLit2010 opinions and offerings to add and then to refine the list:

  1. Management of Time, Workload and Prioritising –Jenny Mackness
  2. Relationship Building and Development – John Mak
  3. Wayfinding behaviors and Strategies in Large Virtual Environments - Jenny Mackness
  4. Literacy of Memory –Steve Mackenzie
  5. I observe data visualisation as an emergent critical literacy - Ruth Howard comment
  6. Information management mentioned as a critical literacy Network Student Youtube Video
  7. Emotional and Social Intelligence – John Mak
  8. Self reflection, self-directed learning (with learning agenda, experimentation & practice), and relationship building (same as 2) John Mak

So i plan to continue looking at themes of the week, but ultimately at the end of this course i hoped to have a clear idea of the emerging critical literacies (as in imperative) that a networked learner should develop. Maybe i should put this list in a wiki for all to add to – need to get this blog post finished and then have a rest first J

With regard to point 3 and issues of power and control, i shall leave that until another time.


Ruth Howard said...

Hi Steve thats very generous yes please if you can create a wiki I'd love a repository to keep adding to after the course. Partly as it will take some weeks to digest beyond the course completion date.

On the 3rd point I'm in midst reading "You are not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier. I highly recommend it.

Ruth Howard said...

Hi Steve that's very generous yes please if you can create a wiki I'd love a repository to keep adding to after the course. Partly as it will take me some weeks to digest readings/posts beyond the course completion date.

On the 3rd point I'm in midst reading "You are not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier. I highly recommend it.

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