Humm, Multiliteracy...

This is designed to complement a course I'm taking on Multiliteracies.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Multiliteracy entails responsibility

Future use I can NOT imagine.

"Never write anything you don't want the world to know."

Do you all remember hearing this? Well, it seems that in the world of blogging and posting and emailing, we seem to have forgotten that little piece of wisdom. We have to be VERY careful about how much information we put online and what we induce our students to put online. Yes, we can change and edit, but - especially with wikis- all the versions are always online - somewhere. You just have to know how to find it.

It´s a lot of responsibility to set up a blog, wiki, page with our students' writing.

1-In ten years future employers, spouses, editors can look through those pages. Are you preparing your students to screen what they post?

2- Can you get into a blog you set up two years ago and change material at a contributor's request? Will you? Do your contributors (students) know your answer to that?

3- Are you prepared to deal with vandals attacking your blog... or someone through your blog. How about in five years?

4- If you decide to take down a blog your students created in a class, can you do that? Are the students in some way co-owners with rights of their own? (You will be erasing part of their online presence. There may be links you'll be leaving orphan) Do we need to explain that to students, or their parents if they are minors, before they contribute?

... among other questions

Blogs, wikis, pages, lists are all really valid means to teach and learn.

I'm not sounding a general, paranoid alarm. I would never want to bar Internet publishing use. However, I do think that many are taking the responsibility too lightly. It is time for a wake up call.

Multiliteracy entails responsibility


How do you anticipate using RSS yourself?

How I HAVE used RSS.

Right off the bat I can say that Blogger and RSS have been my salvation for easily bookmarking online material for my students. I use and refer to a lot of material from the internet.

With my schedule it's too time consuming to input the material or links in each students' area in my moodle, or even email the link to each of them individually. Blogging everything as soon as I decide to use it is much more practical. The students can just save one link where they find all the links to material I refer to or use. You can see this material collection at:

I set up an RSS feed within the social area of my moodle. When students enter that area they can see the last five or so pieces of material I've blogged. I encourage students to set up an RRS feed from the blog for themselves.

I make no attempt to organize the material. It gets blogged as I find it. I try to be very disciplined about blogging material first thing so I don't forget to do it. Students must wade through everyones' material before they find their own but it is all there.

I realize Delicious or other bookmarking sites might seem better prepared for that purpose. The reality is, though, many of my students are NOT all that web savy. Blogger has the friendliest look to web newbies... PLUS there is a handy "Blog This! button you can install on your browser.

"Oh, I think I may use that." ... Hit "Blog this" and it's there.

Future use I can imagine

I can see setting up a blog with discussion topics. The students would set up RSS somewhat like instead of including them on a mailing list.

I can see setting up a colaborative writing project. Once again, students would be notified with an RSS feed.

I can see setting up one blog for each student or group work and I, the teacher, setting up RSS to follow the students work.

There ARE things I would not do but for that you'll have to read the next post.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Constructivism versus Constructionism

The difference between constructivism and constructionism, from what I see, is more "What is the nature of truth" If you believe that truth is absolute and use context to bring a learner to an understanding... you´re constructivist. If you consider truth as subjective or even in evolution and use context to interpret encouraging reinterpretation ... you´re constructionist. Or is it the other way around? The texts seem to be contradictory as far as terminology. (see below)

Constructivism versus Constructionism? In the end I think the terms themselves are less important than the idea that our reading of the world, what we think of as truth is not "cut and dry". I actually prefer to think that truth IS absolute but beyond what we can conceive and therefore "our truth" seems to change because our reading is never complete. But THAT is not what we are discussing here. Or is it?

The Internet opens up an ever growing
immensity of information that is in constant evolution. We will be overwhelmed; we will question, and be questioned as will our students. Dealing with that is an ability that we need to develop. That is multiliteracy.

Excerpts of two texts that seem to me to be contradictory.

Donna E. Alvermann quoting Gavelek and Raphael’s (1996)
"...[A social constructionist perspective] has the potential to shift our focus on talk about text away from seeking ‘facts’ or ‘truths’ toward constructing ‘interpretations’ and offering ‘warranted justifications’ for interpretations...."

"...Textual meaning is not ‘out there’ to be acquired: it is something that is constructed by individuals through their interactions with each other and the world. (p. 183)"

Lloyd Rieber
"What is really true? "
"... a constructivist teacher is more concerned about the meanings that his/her students have about content and seeks to use these meanings as the seeds for greater understanding. A constructivist teacher knows that "teaching" is really a misnomer -- one cannot really teach something to somebody else (a la pouring information into somebody's head). In a sense, individuals teach themselves in a social context. Instead, a teacher's responsibility is to facilitate learning by providing lots of interesting opportunities for meanings to be formed, shared, and discussed."

"...the concept of "viability versus truth," because many ideas are viable in the everyday world and ought to be taught. Another good example is Newton's laws of motion. These are still viable, even though they are no longer considered "true" by physicists, because they have practical uses. ..."


Irony of an update

Interesting enough is that a presentation that demonstrates the evolution of literacy , or the creation of a new literacy (and yes, I am throwing that word "literacy" around a lot) , was itself updated. Here is the final version.

One of the commentaries uses the term "user created culture". That would be material for another analysis... if we had the time.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

What is Multiliteracy?. Why be multiliterate?

It´s been a year since my first mulling over "What is Multiliteracy". (see: Multiliteracy in multiplicity). My concept of multiliteracy has not changed so much as has the responsability I feel in relation to it. So I will not so much answer the question of "what is multiliteracy" but concentrate more on "Why be multiliterate?"

From recognizing our name and responding, to working within the virtual reality of a word problem and calculating volume or distance - our means of reading the world takes an enormous leap. The Web is forcing us to make yet another such transition.

We are learning to understand the reality created through the web: analize the content, develop best practices, distinguish limitations and pitfalls. Not to philosophize exceedingly, but multiliteracy infringes on the way we read the world, and it reads us.

We as teachers need to truly be literate in the multiplicity of the world the web has created, be multiliterate, else we take our students on a haphazard journey with unknown consequence.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rehashing with a little extra

"He is alive!"

The resuscitation of this blog with thoughts on multiliteracy may remind readers of Frank's monster. It does seem fitting that a blog on multiliteracy and web 2 would make reference to Franky.

  • Frank·en·stein1. An agency or creation that slips from the control of and ultimately destroys its creator: "How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?" Milton Friedman.

My hope is that through better developing multiliteracy we will "tame the beast"


Saturday, September 30, 2006


"...[the] focal elements of Multiliteracies: the connections being made between linguistic and visual design, and the cross-cultural aspects of meaning making..." "...the purpose of Multiliteracies is to supplement or extend literacy teaching for our new times..."

Putting Multiliteracies to the Test by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis

Ok, That wraps it all up for me. Yes, we need to understand the actual media (i.e. when you click control, when you click enter; when you use Skype, when you use Yahoo) But the truely focal elements are wonderfully stated above.

Possibly, the increased difficulty students have in learning is not that they are increasingly lazy, unable to concentrate, undernurished, or even over stressed. Although these are all influencial factors in learning; more probably, today's learners are simply being conditioned to a multiliteral world.

It is more difficult today for learners to absorve information, knowledge, than in the world of 20 or more years ago. Today's is a world where power structures are not as clear as they once were, thus "lack of discipine"; and multitasking is the norm, thus "lack of concentration."

In other words, we are being pushed to be focused on various objectives and not reliant on heirarchies. "Be proactive!" " Be agile!" Is it any wonder today's students can't sit and be quiet; concentrate on their reading; obey the routines?

Cultures evolve. Communication evolves. Teaching must evolve.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Digest: Jay Cross' - Natural Learning

Jay Cross' - Natural Learning - Finnish eLearning RoundTable - Informal Learning - December 2005 (accessed: 24/Sept/2006)

Jay Cross starts out his presentation with the example of money losing its unitary value over time. What a dollar would buy yesterday is not what it will buy today. He compares that inversely to the value of time. What a minute could hold years ago is much less than what a minute can hold today which demonstrates aspects of the theory of the acceleration of time. In accordance with this theory we can deduce that although the 21st century will hold 100 years, it will in fact hold 20,000 years worth of experience. This reality creates the need for people to adapt and be enabled to participate successfully in life and work and in groups that matter to them– in other words, enable people to learn. Learning can take two forms. One is formal learning characterized, for example, by classes, grades and curriculums. The other is informal learning characterized, among other things, by discovery, trial-and-error, asking, storytelling, networking, coaching and observing. This second form is Natural Learning. In the lifecycle of the typical learner we evolve progressively to less and less formal, more natural ways of acquiring knowledge. The productivity of the acquisition of knowledge can be hundreds of times more in one individual than another. It’s a logical conclusion that, in today’s scenario of knowledge as a product, to allow for the stages in learning styles and the possibility of such a wide difference in knowledge worker productivity, our systems need to be flexible. The Read/Write Web provides such systems through wikis, blogs, rss, and other continually evolving media. In recent years, this web has been used to resolve problems that traditional infrastructures could not. Additional tools for the facilitation of learning and communication are the increased use of visuals as well as networks rather than more traditional hieratic structures. Visuals, often neglected in traditional textual communication, are powerful facilitators. Networks, with their natural subversion of hierarchy and exponential growth, create lighter, more agile, enabling organizations. Cross closes with the notion that learning structures are like setting up a garden. “It’s setting up conditions where things can grow.”

After listening to the presentation, the point that most impressed me was the analogy of the valorization of time units relating it to the de-valorization of money units. It was a clear well laid out explanation and lead smoothly to the description of and call for new learning conceptions and administrative structures to which the read/write web is well adapted.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Learning as Adaptation

"Learning is the natural process of adaptation which enables people to participate successfully in life and work and in groups that are important to them"

One of the big discussions about online education is, "Does it actually lead to learning. Is is valid?" In my case, is my students' English knowledge growing?

I reconsidered my answers to this question after listening to Jay Cross' presentation "Natural Learning". In light of his definition of learning (above), I believe we can answer the questions simply and confidently.

-Do online activities enable people to participate successfully in life and work and in groups that are important to them?
-Yes, they do.

How do these kind of activities create learning/adaptation?

Our students live, work and use the English we are helping them learn in a world of face-to-face and also the world of cyberspace. How can we possibly believe we are preparing our students for life in a globalized reality if we don't help them to be multiliteral?

Online activites are useful to practice points of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation etc. Their greater advantage, however, is to enable students to work in the multicultural world of multimedia and internet. They are a step to multiliteracy.