Defining ‘New Literacies’

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There are a number of terms and concepts that have been associated with literacy in the 21st century. Similarly to the term ‘literacy’, the term ‘new literacies’ is constantly evolving and can mean different things to different people.

Generally speaking, literacy refers to the cognitive process leading to the development of autonomous skills that allow us to read and write. It also can be used to describe what people do with literacy. In a similar way, ‘new literacies’ refers to something that is continuously transforming. We should no longer think of it as something static. In her article, New Literacies, Learning and Libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? Eveline Houtman describes the idea that technological change aligns with a range of increasing popular values. ‘New Literacies’ is also built on old literacies and reflects social and historical times. In essence, you could think of it as being literate in the 21st century. For example, the concept of publishing is still current but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are printing something onto a piece of paper or cardboard. Publishing can now mean writing on a blog or posting something online through a social network. As new technologies emerge, so too are ‘new literacies’. It is an exciting time and as teachers, we need to embrace the changes and ensure our students are confident and sensible navigators to achieve academic success.

References

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 February 14th, 2014

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