New Literacies for the 21st Century Citizen

Yesterday I attended an interesting presentation by Ewan McIntosh (his edublogs site is worth checking out) run as part of the Urban Learning Space seminar series (a podcast of it will be available soon).

What I found refreshing was his discussion of how emerging technologies (social software in particular) is really just another development in a long line of 'in-things' (from sliced bread in 192x!) whose use seemed daunting, unusual or even inappropriate initially.

What I took from his talk was that maybe educators tend to take the use of emerging technolgies too seriously, treating them as an all-or-nothing. Overplanning the use of technolgy, putting so much emphasis on the need for them to be successful (or the need for it to not fail) means that the flexibility, spontaneity and innovative use of technologies is often stifled in the learning environment. And yet our learners are displaying exactly these traits in their personal use of the technologies - from using their blogs to publish creative writing, to producing videos for youtube sharing their comments on current affairs, and using some impressive technical features to showcase their talents. Maybe it is time we learned from them and see it as a creative medium rather than looking for the way to assess it and 'prove' the value of the excersie... maybe the value is it can engage the interest of learners!

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