About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3048-3055
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain

NAMING THE WORLD: SCAFFOLDING DIGITAL LITERACIES THROUGH LABELING ACTIVITIES

A. Karatsolis, B. Esfahani

Carnegie Mellon University (QATAR)
The fields of composition and literacy studies have been rife with conversations on the affordances and constraints of new digital literacies, especially as far as student prior knowledge is concerned (Selfe 2010, Cope and Kalantzis 2008, Gee 2007). Almost everyone recognizes that students engage in very different literate practices than their counterparts ten, five or even three years ago, Moreover, professional practices are also changing, triggering curricular changes to be able to address the demands of the workplace for experienced digital natives.

At Carnegie Mellon University one of the courses that was introduced seven years ago was Online Information Design, a senior level course covering the theory and principles of information design and architecture on the web. As a senior level course, professional methodologies were introduced, such as labeling analyses or card sorting. The same course was offered at the Qatar campus of Carnegie Mellon in the Fall of 2009 for the first time, and again in the Fall of 2010. What soon became clear was that students were able to handle the technological demands (building or redesigning a website) fairly easily, but it wasn't equally easy for them to engage in concept-driven methodologies, such as labeling. In labeling exercises, students have to analyze the effectiveness of the navigation labels of a site by analyzing the ways users tried access information in the form of a question they wanted answered or a task they wanted to accomplish. This seemingly straightforward activity was more problematic to students than building a new webpage.

It seems that in order for undergraduates to engage in conceptual activities at the level of application, we need scaffolding at the introductory and reinforced levels from other courses. This presentation will address this issue and provide a possible solution through an activity from a freshman course on Information Literacy Carnegie Mellon Qatar introduced recently.

In this activity, the students are asked to create a rudimentary classification scheme for a collection of 10 photographs. The broadest common characteristic shared between the images in the collection is that the photographs represent human physical expression, including body language and facial gestures.

The products of the exercise include a class name, scope note, three to four descriptor tags that are placed into a hierarchical thesaural structure with semantic associations, including broader terms, narrower terms, related terms, and see references. The goal of the descriptor tags are both to tag the “aboutness” of the photograph, as well as create intra-tag distinction between the photographs. Additionally, students are asked to create at least one pre-coordinated tag composed of two or more concepts that demonstrate a syntactic relationship.

The purpose of the exercise is for the students to interact with the images and use social classification in a structured setting to describe and organize the visual information. The exercise also serves as an introductory exposure to taxonomic principles.

The presentation will conclude with some recommendations for curriculum alignment and a discussion of the need for introductory courses on digital literacies and communication practices, before students are presented with opprortunites for application.
@InProceedings{KARATSOLIS2011NAM,
author = {Karatsolis, A. and Esfahani, B.},
title = {NAMING THE WORLD: SCAFFOLDING DIGITAL LITERACIES THROUGH LABELING ACTIVITIES},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {3048-3055}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Karatsolis AU - B. Esfahani
TI - NAMING THE WORLD: SCAFFOLDING DIGITAL LITERACIES THROUGH LABELING ACTIVITIES
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 3048
EP - 3055
ER -
A. Karatsolis, B. Esfahani (2011) NAMING THE WORLD: SCAFFOLDING DIGITAL LITERACIES THROUGH LABELING ACTIVITIES, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 3048-3055.
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