1 University of Massachusetts Boston (UNITED STATES)
2 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3097-3104
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
In the new digital spaces young people are creating new ways with words, that not only fracture the traditional hegemony of written texts but also create new empowering zones where youngsters dare to make their private thoughts public. On multiple sites (that include blogs, podcasts, wikis, and social networking sites) new texts and discursive practices are produced making these sites inherently pedagogical. As sites of public pedagogy they create, in turn, forms of literacy that go against traditional understandings of what constitutes a text. These texts often use language in an unorthodox way, adopt informal writing styles, and make use of text shortcuts and emoticons. In a sense, they redefine the nature and functions of language and break away from a rigid, grammatically and syntactically structured model that aspires to imitate the standard norm by creating new forms and uses. ICTs as sites of public pedagogy expand possibilities for language transcendence. That is, discourses produced in blogs, chats, online fan fiction, online discussions, and special interest groups, among others, don’t comply with the restricted definition of ‘literacy’. In fact, through digital media, young people are reclaiming the authorship of their own words as well as their worlds since it is though their language that they can reconstruct their historical and cultural location. In this paper we claim that digital texts and discourses need to be negotiated and understood both as embodiments of an existing, real, social, economic, and cultural world and as interpretations of this world. New Information and Communication Technologies can be understood as discursive spaces, as sites of public pedagogy and thus, they demand a radical rethinking of how visual and visualizing technologies are produced, circulated, and taken up as well as how they redefine the traditional meaning of literacy. To take it one step further, they also call for rethinking ways to integrating these new texts and internet culture into school curriculum.
We want to suggest that this new text production and interaction within virtual spaces, because it is rooted in the cultural capital and daily realities of students (those students who have access, with access being another important factor to be discussed), needs to be taken seriously, both as a form of self-expression and as a space with political potential. Because it springs from people’s experience and social and historical location, it has the potential to become emancipatory. When students feel that what they bring into the classroom and virtual spaces (including their language) is valued, and they realize they can write about things that interest them in a language they feel comfortable with, a set of conditions for meaningful engagement is already present. A cautionary note needs to be made here in that the social repercussions of new technologies are not determined by the internal dynamics of new technologies themselves, but rather, by their external social environment. A change in the role of technology requires a change in the structure of society. At the same time, digital spaces offer the potential to expose students to new forms of apprenticeship, where they can sharpen their interpretive tools, and introduce them to new discourse communities where they can become the authors of their own histories.
Digital literacy, new ICTs, public pedagogy, critical literacy.