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Changes in literacy practices, created by rapidly evolving technologies, have had many implications for the teaching and learning of literacy.This synthesis will reflect on the ten annotated articles to highlight how literacy teaching and learning has changed, and how teachers can best assist students in their learning.Traditionally, literacy was taught via approaches, such as “drilled in skills”, or in immersion processes, drowning students in experiences of print and visuals prior to developing semantics, syntax, or phonological skills (Henderson, R. slide 3). These pedagogies were at a time when texts were explicitly from a two dimensional print- based world of books and images (NSW Department of Education and Training, p. 3.).
Nowadays, the very concept of „text „encompasses print and digital modes through what Cope and Kalantzis (2009) define as Learning by Design. These designs set out how students make meaning in all modes of texts via the linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial and multimodal aspects (New London Group, p.78).Having the ability to comprehend or interpret the design modes in literacy ensures students become multiliterate it today‟s technological society. This requires not only a cognitive practice but also having an understanding, or an awareness, of the social concepts (Anstey and Bull, p.), aiming to empower students through literacy to read the “word and the world”, encouraging them to firstly indentify texts as social constructions and then to analyse their meanings (Freire & Macedo, 1987).
It is little wonder that students are more adept at newer technologies then teachers, as these technologies have embedded themselves into the culture of the students, taking on complex roles and new mindsets in regards to communication (Asselin and Moayeri, p.1).Blogs, Skype and texting are just a snippet of the new forms of communications, transforming the very act of literacy learning, and progressing at such a rate that pedagogical practices are falling behind (Marsh, p.13).
There is no one right way to teach literacy skills, but there are a number of pedagogical approaches that benefit the learning processes; didactive teachings, discovery based and exploratory approaches, are just a few (National Curriculum Board, p.16). These styles provide grounded experiences that are meaningful to students and relatable to their personal experiences both in and out of school. Structured dialogue is another approach teachers can take on board when teaching as it builds on robust learning environments and improves learning outcomes (Abbey, 2010). Dialogue, along with pedagogies and technologies, develop the cognitive mind as well as having social functions that enhance students‟ vocabulary.
There are also a number of frameworks that assist both with the teaching, and learning of literacy and the Four Resource Model is one framework that lends itself into all subject areas (Santoro, p.52, Stewart-Dore, p.6) seeing literacy taught across all domains of the curriculum, not just in English.Faced with a digital driven and globalised world, teachers must adopt a pedagogy of multiliteracies and embed the new technologies into the learning frame in order to develop inclusivity, cultural knowledge and connectedness to the real world (Mills, p.7).
Abbey is an Australian consultant and researcher with much experience in the government and community sectors. His article explores the benefits of structured dialogue and examines a four dimensional model and a stage-by-stage process for teachers to implement into the learning environment. Through his research, he suggests that new pedagogies and technologies need to align in order to bring optimal performance in the classrooms. Abbey argues that pedagogy and technology need to merge in order to transform classroom conversations into a structured dialogue, developing cognitive as well as social functions. How students are read to is just as important as how often they are read to as this will enhance their vocabulary.
Anstey and Bull‟s article explores the term multiliteracies and the skills required by students to be cognitively and socially literate within the technology used. The implication for pedagogy begins at examining what constitutes text in an age of multimedia. Previously education worked within paper based text, hence a linguistic semiotic system dominated literacy pedagogy, however as texts are increasingly multimodal the term „literate persons‟ requires knowledge of all five semiotic systems as well as an understanding of how they work together. This means that teachers need to help students explore the changing nature of texts as they develop understandings about them.
Asselin and Moayeri„s article offers examples of classroom practices drawing on social elements of „social webbing‟ (Web 2.0) which they believe are necessary in extending students ideas of new literacies. Expanding literacies for learning with Web 2.0 include criticality, metacognition, reflection and skills, all needed for creating and publishing, yet schools still remain to use Web 1.0 for games/activities and resources. The authors suggest social bookmarking sites as examples of collaborative cataloguing and indexing tools due to their collaborative nature of ranking information based on the number of people who have bookmarked them. The use of these technologies provides students with a collaborative environment with them being active participants in the development of new social literacy practices.
Cope and Kalantzis refer to The New London Groups theory of multiliteracies pedagogy. They believe that due to a changing world and changing environment , pedagogy needs to change also. Instead of the traditional basics of reading, they call for a transformative pedagogy, allowing the learner to actively analyse and apply meaning making in four major dimensions of teaching. This article suggests that empirical activities will aid in the development of strategies for diversity among students enabling equity within the classroom and enabling students to be active participants in their learning providing them with the framework to be literate participants in society.
Marsh‟s analysis suggests that schools take into account the way in which students are engaged in “innovative literacy practices” in order to adopt productive pedagogies. Because of the range of learning opportunities afforded by digital technologies, new pedagogical approaches are required in schools if the content is to be engaging and appropriate, and if students are to become competent and effective analysers and producers within a range of multimodal texts. Marsh draws on Bernstein‟s‟ (2000) Pedagogic Recontextualizing Field in relation to literacy learning and education to critique two different pedagogies (The National Literacy Strategy and Productive Pedagogies). Schools need to revisit how they teach literacy, and Information and Communication Technologies, and attempt to meld the two in order to achieve a more productive pedagogy.
Mills‟ research paper looks at the findings of research regarding the interactions between pedagogy and access to multiliteracies among culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Conducted in an upper primary classroom of a low socio-economic area, Ms Mills conducted her research using the multiliteracies pedagogy and critical ethnographic methodology. Unfortunately the observations made by Ms Mills showed the teacher‟s relapse to existing pedagogies and traditional text thus prohibiting access to culturally diverse textual practices and multimodality. This article highlights the shortcomings of theories into classrooms as well as the importance for teachers to constantly re-evaluate their pedagogical beliefs and practices.
The New South Wales Government delves into how digital technologies effect learning environments via teacher pedagogy, the nature of the learner, and reading and writing. They acknowledge that although these are still central to being literate, globalisation has created new literacy needs, which should equip students to become critical creators and consumers of the information they encounter. They draw on a range of frameworks they believe are influential in determining curriculum content, yet applying these frameworks alone do not ensure success in literacy learning amongst students. Pedagogical beliefs and knowledge in technology are also important ensuring teachers have understandings of what technology and media do .Educators need to adjust their literacy practices in order to stay at least on par with the changes occurring in literacies.
Santoro‟s perspective in this article is that literacy learning is a complex set of practices operating within a variety of texts and within certain sets of social situations. He contrasts this to teachers who believe that once students have learnt to read and write, they are able to do so in all contexts. Santoro quells these beliefs by pointing out that there are many distinctive school and social literacies characterised by written, oral, aural, visual, digital and multimodal texts. Santoro advocates the use of the four-resource model as a “valuable tool” for middle year‟s teachers and student teachers.
Students need to be strategic learners, acquiring a multitude of skills and strategies enabling them to gain, construct and communicate new knowledge‟s whilst building higher order thinking skills and experiences, according to Stewart-Dore. He examines the popular reading frameworks and touches on their shortcomings (linear, systematic progression, lacking in critical reflections regarding contents and processes). In turn, Stewart-Dore proposes an alternative framework through the Practicing Multiliteracies Learning Model comprising of four phases: accessing knowledge, interrogating meanings, selecting and organising information and representing knowledge. This article suggests that teachers require some guidelines ensuring their teaching strategies are appropriate to literacy education.
The New London Group argues that the cultural and linguistic diversity occurring in society calls for extensive views on literacy rather than the traditional based language approaches. This article, written by ten academics, is concerned about the changes occurring in literacy due to globalisation, technology and the social and cultural diversity. It was through them that the term „multiliteracies was coined, acknowledging the many diverse ways that literacy is used. This new approach to literacy pedagogy combats the “limitations of traditional” pedagogies, taking on a transformative approach by introducing the “what” and “how” of literacy pedagogy. This article has been very influential regarding literacy within the educational system.