Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2014). Studying new literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adul t Literacy, 57(9), 1-5.
The article from Knobel & Lankshear explores the idea of “New Literacies,” which have emerged largely due to technology and the Internet. New literacies involve shared skills and knowledge for the current generation, in which they leverage ubiquitous technologies to learn, make meaning, and create knowledge in a dynamic and diverse environment. The article gives examples and studies young students who are learning digitally via self-directed activities. It explores new literacies from the socio-cultural perspective and emphasizes how the new skills, knowledge and tools play into social contexts. Tools and techniques include multiple media types such as video, images, podcasts, and hypertext/hypermedia. The practical applications of digital literacy is provided with technology, software and new approaches, but competence in more abstract aspects of literacy such as problem-solving, reasoning, critical thinking, and argument play an equally important role.
The new literacies discussed in the article build upon the old literacies, and enhance the foundational knowledge that individuals need to have to survive and navigate in the modern world. The new literacies involve shared digital know-how and skillsets extending “old” literacies. They unleash expression of diverse intelligences and natural talents, manifested as new languages, abstractions, and creations. They are comprised of digitally-influenced knowledge and skillsets, such as the Internet and other new technologies which require new skills and strategies to effectively use them. They also promote creativity and integrated contexts, and coincide with new pedagogies and diversity of thought. The new literacies unleashed by digital technology enable new expressions of intelligence, natural talents through new languages, abstractions, and creations. By understanding how today’s students acquire, integrate and synthesize knowledge utilizing such tools and techniques as things as micro-blogging, wikis, social networking, hypermedia, search engines, and gamification/game-playing, we can connect with today’s learners by designing and developing pedagogies and systems that meet the needs of the new paradigm of learning. Besides the obvious emergence of digital literacy, we also see other new literacies acquired and possessed by learners that enable higher levels of criticality. However, simply translating the conventional literacies and rendering them digitally, does not comprise new literacies.
Understanding new ways of learning and internalizing information to form new knowledge is essential for researchers. The technologies available to today’s learners can extend collaboration from face-to-face to activities and personal interaction with global scope. By identifying, analyzing and studying new ways of creating and/or curating information, as educators, we can advance our experience and exposure to the new ways people learn, teach, and communicate, and contribute these ideas to the greater body of knowledge in learning science. New technologies which increase interactivity with the content and ability to dynamically develop new knowledge can help researchers with the analysis of emergent learning methodologies as well as enable them to develop solutions to the challenges of learning in a world with exponential growth in content. The new literacies not only provide new frameworks for learning, but provide practical tools and techniques for students to find what information they need, when they need it. The research in this article emphasized how young learners engage in both new and conventional literacies, utilizing technology, knowledge, and skills. And, the article explains how teachers can reinforce the new literacies by providing cycles of feedback and mentoring, and adapting to the dynamic digital classroom, which can lead to better assessment of learning, and improvement of learning outcomes.