Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Technology and Literacy

The use of technology in learning is increasing and it will grow to be an important tool for the students. Not to say it is not at the moment. Some schools have really embraced learning technologies and really see it as the tool to improve learning. It is no different at Unitec, New Zealand. The eLearning strategy that is being rolled out this year together with the Living Curricula will certainly put technology as the tool for improved learning and teaching.
While talking about a project I am involved in today at a meeting, I was asked how the use of technology in this course was meeting the literacy needs of the institution and other interested stakeholders?

Well for me personally any learning that is driven by technology has to be better than the old traditional transmission method. Technology empowers the students, helps them form their own identity and also helps students identify how they learn best.

It is all good to say a questionnaire can help determine or find the literacy need of a student but is it a matter of asking someone who knows no better? For me literacy is a transformational journey, the needs of a student changes, it does not remain the same every time. Well for a transmission style teaching the questionnaire will work wonders! Things are prescribed for the students hence the literacy needs of a student can easily be determined.

True learning for me happens when a student is responsible of its own learning. The teacher is facilitating learning by encouraging student generated content. 'If I am creating, I am learning', student centred learning hence is the platform you want to be building on if you went to improve literacy in students.

I came across this interesting blog post by Clive Thompson about Andrea Lunsford. Lunsford is a professor at Stanford University where she embarked on a project called Stanford Study of Writing to analyse students use of written and spoke language. Lunsford collected 14,672 student writing samples dating from year 2001-2006, the samples were made up of in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions.

Having reviewed the samples Lunford states,"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization". Technology was identified as the catalyst that was driving the revival of writing and not only this, it is also creating use for it in many different ways (you can read more about this here).

If you would just take a step back and reflect on what's driving the Web 2.0 craze? Communication, collaboration, creation and networking all of which is underpinned by use of language either written, spoken or visual.

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