Towards a Framing of Web Literacies

Towards a Framing of Web Literacies

Recently I’ve been sitting in on the work being conducted by Mozilla as they develop a new, open learning standard for Web Literacy. The current thinking that frames these Web Literacies is focusing on four “strands”: exploring, creating, connecting, and protecting. I’ve spent the past week engaged in some dialogue with some great minds on the subject…and brought this thinking back to some colleagues in my department. As I continue to unpack and digest this work, I’m drawn to parallels from own background in educational psychology and reading comprehension.

Image attributed to www.rand.org

Image attributed to www.rand.org

In trying to think through these skills and strategies I was brought back to two different fields, and a similar looking heuristic. The first of these is the RAND Reading Report and their literacy research aimed at improving reading comprehension. Their model looked at three factors (text, activity, and reader) and discussed how these elements interrelate in reading comprehension. These three factors are surrounded by the sociocultural context that affects and modifies the process of reading comprehension. The second model that I’m reminded of is the work by Urie Bronfenbrenner as he discussed development and the ecological perspective of human development.

Image attributed to faculty.weber.edu

Image attributed to faculty.weber.edu

What strikes me about these two heuristics, and their design is how they both attempt to describe the sociological and ecological forces that affect their subject matter. In the case of the Mozilla Web Literacies we’ve been trying to understand all of the literacies involved as individuals read/write online multimodal information. In reviewing the dialogue about these issues, it seems important to include an aspect of “identity” and the role that this has in use and development of these literacies. We all seem to agree that the concept of “identity” is intertwined with the other “strands” that have been described (e.g., exploring, creating, connecting, protecting). The ultimate question is how do these all interact and intertwine?

I believe these two heuristics may be the model that help us understand how these interrelate. This thinking is motivated by the discussion I had in the Google Group, but mostly Carla Casilli asking about 2D as opposed to 3D models of these web literacies and their constructs. I posit that exploring, creating, connecting, and protecting should all reside in the center of this model. This model would be a series of concentric circles with the center being the web literacies, the next circle surrounding this would be “Purpose”, of the reason for the individual reading/writing online information. The next ring in the series would be “Identity”, or the myriad of definitions, contexts, and time-points we use to define identity. The last circle would be the “Sociocultural” aspects that define the literacy practices individuals use as they search and sift online text. I think that each of these three contexts influence and in some ways determine the opportunities and challenges that exist as individuals seek to be web literate.

I should indicate that two things may change from the heuristic and description I’ve provided above. First, I don’t think “explore” is the correct term for this consideration of web literacies. I’ll explore that thinking a bit more in a subsequent blog post. Second, in the last Community Call, there was a lot of dialogue about possibly changing, or removing the protecting “strand.” Much of this dialogue focused on the changing contexts of identity, situation, purpose, and terminology that would affect inclusion of this factor. I believe that moving to a model such as the one I present in this post would allow for the removal of the protection “strand” as it would be addressed in the full 3D model in other areas.

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