Tutorial 1 (Week 3) – New Literacies

We are currently in the midst of a technological whirlwind that involves social media and brand new information sources and technologies that are more accessible and available more quickly than ever before. And most notably, everything is evolving at such rapid pace that what is popular and revolutionary today, including this very blog and its associated company WordPress, may not be the medium of choice in a quick few months or years, however unlikely it appears. This is a hallmark of the term “new literacies,” a relatively new term coined to represent new digital literacy practices. As an example, just 20 years ago in our elder generation, “literate” simply meant able to read, comprehend, and analyze text in books and other written forms, which are relatively stable technologies and means of conveyance of information. However, in our current generation, being literate in the “new literacy” requires far greater knowledge of new technologies and discourses, mostly due to the explosion of digital medias. It’s important to note that the shifts in media choices and technologies doesn’t necessarily indicate changing fads, but rather shifting paradigms (Lankshear and Knobel 2011). They also believe that new literacies require two elements: 1) new “technical stuff” (aka digital technologies) to implement, and 2) new “ethos stuff” such as the change in values to more collaborative, distributed, and participatory mindsets.

Another hallmark of new literacies is the use of multimodal forms of expression and dissemination of knowledge. In older static modes of distribution of text, there was a heavy emphasis on the written word, most evident in books and texts. In the 21st century with the ease of access to computing technology, there has been an absolute transformation to the digital text, harnessing freely available hardware in the form of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and computers. As a result, new literacy is able to distribute information through images, video, and sound seamlessly with written text at lightning speeds. Old time bottlenecks such as physical publishing are now kaput.

New literacies represent an immense teaching and learning opportunity for children of all ages in the primary classroom. If the multitude of resources and technological capabilities are harnessed correctly by the teacher, students stand to gain maximum benefit of amazing knowledge resources from while maintaining quite possibly the highest interest ever in the history of literacy. There exist so many forms of new literacies that it is quite impossible for a student not to be totally engrossed in at least one of them. One of the last aspects of new literacies is the fact that what exists today may very well not be considered new literacy tomorrow; it is imperative more than ever that the generation we teach today be as informed as they can be.


Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/ Accessed 17 March 2014.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning (3rd ed.). Maidenhead, UK: McGraw Hill.


The short piece here examines and critiques the ways and means that the public is being so-called “greenwashed” by large corporations through branding and marketing. As an example, BP portrays itself as a “brightly-colored, sunshiny, happy, baby company” through its visuals and music. The YouTube clip presents its message in an ironic way through the use of greenwashing itself. Viewers are peppered with pleasing-sounding terms such as all-natural, preservative-free, dolphin-friendly, and sustainable. The clip is even accompanied by the presence of soothing, positive music. It goes into other tactics that companies use in the media campaigns such as awards won from various agencies and use of “post-consumer” products. The video concludes by providing a neutral information source, greenerchoice.com, to provide further information to viewers seeking clarification of the myriad different terminologies related to greenwashing.


One thought on “Tutorial 1 (Week 3) – New Literacies

  1. Thanks Andrew. Not sure publishing is ‘kaput’ however. Need to consider old and new together in new forms. With the Greenwashing clip, think about collecting a series of resources you could use in the classroom to help kids be discerning media users. Cheers, Jon

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