<span class='p-name'>Becoming digitally literate in a domain of one’s own</span>

Becoming digitally literate in a domain of one’s own

In our everyday interactions, we utilize a variety of digital texts and tools to create and curate a digital identity. We have websites linked to other websites. Social media links connecting this work to the work of peers and colleagues. We use social networks to tweet, blog, and post our ideas and share his out with the world to review. All of these components (and more) comprise our digital identity.

Where do we learn how to read, write, and communicate in these digital spaces? In this post we’ll continue the discussion to consider the challenges and opportunities that may exist as we move students from thinking about digital portfolios to the possibility of having a domain of one’s own.

As we examine these possible future directions, there are multiple questions about specific tools, privacy, security, and hegemony in the current system. Furthermore, there should be questions and discussion about individual and collective epistemological and ontological beliefs about education, literacy, and learning. Put simply, we need to have dialogue as we determine possible futures.

A place to practice digital literacies

We live in a connected world where anyone with access to the Internet is exposed to unprecedented learning opportunities. Information is plentiful, and experts are, literally, at our fingertips. With the advent of new digital texts and tools the promise and peril of this access to everyone is tangible. Research over the last two decades has shown that reading and writing in digital spaces may require a more complex application of literacy skills than print-based reading and writing. Most formal institutions of education still cling to traditional definitions of literacy and pedagogical approaches, focusing on print-based literacy and teacher-centered pedagogy.

As we prepare children to live in this globally, connected network, we often have a lack of agreement or guidance on how to build these digital literacies. Furthermore, work with these digital texts and tools often occurs in silos in which students and educators are often shut off from their work based on arbitrary factors such as school years or buildings. Children are often not empowered to learn, nor are they connected to the world outside their classroom walls. To prepare students to be literate digitally, we need to prepare them in a digitally literate environment of their own.

Becoming digitally literate in a domain of one’s own

In trying to identify opportunities to build the skills and practices individuals will need in digital environments, Kristy Pytash and I wrote up a submission for the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. In this submission, we contend that if we really want students to be digitally literate, they need to have a personalized learning space online that provides more than just a snapshot of their participation in one class or one school year. We argue that students should have a “domain of one’s own” or one canonical address online that students build up from Pre-K through higher ed.

With a place of their own online, they can read, write, and participate, and build, edit, revise, and iterate as if it were a digital portfolio. In this commentary we’ll examine exactly what a “domain of one’s own” is and how teachers and schools can implement this initiative.  In addition, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities of providing each student with a domain of one’s own to use as they start their literate career in our schools. We believe students need opportunities online where they can create, build, and modify digital artifacts that represent their identities as learners.

Continue the discussion

We would love your commentary on the manuscript below that is currently in press for the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL). We will fold in the final published version here once is made available.

In this piece we introduce several of the challenges and opportunities that exist in this possible initiative. These may include discussions about privacy, security, ownership, and identity. Some are relatively simple questions about the type of platform or payment for services. Other questions are a bit tougher to unpack. In these questions we might ask if parents are allowed to view all of the materials in their child’s domain of work. Some might also ask if a student can determine that they do not want to have a domain of their own.

Whether the questions are technological or ideological, I believe we need to start/continue the discussion. As we explore literacy and technology as deixis on the internet we need to prepare for future changes. It is hoped that this piece will spark these discussions now and in the future as we encourage our colleagues in the field to push for a more informed, longitudinal use of new and digital literacies across the lifespan of learners.

You can access (and comment on) the Google Doc for the commentary here.

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