Thursday, December 8, 2011


Literacy Multiliteracy is becoming increasingly important as language, grammar and the spoken word continue to change and evolve (Winch et. al 2009; Mawer 1999). No longer does literacy pertain only to being able to read, and literacy means different things in different contexts. If a student is having problems with reading, they would require remedial reading help, not literacy instruction. I don't think that any one person could be literate in all contexts in this day and age, and neither do they need to be. We do however need to be literate in the areas that will affect the quality of our lives in society and in our careers (Mawer 1999).
I recall when I first came across text talk, I had no idea what all the abbreviations stood for. Someone enlightened me on the basic LOL and ROFL, and I was on my own from there. I had no idea if I was being sworn or laughed at! This deficiency prevented me from interacting in chat rooms as I literally could not understand what was being said. A university e-learning course soon enlightened me enough that I felt literate in this type of communication and skillful enough to participate in online chats. These days if there is something that I don't know or understand, I use my skills to find the required information. I consider this to mean that I am literate in this area.

How then do students go when they are required to read mathematical or scientific texts with wonderfully alien words like mitosis, eukaryotic and differentiation, if their basic reading and decoding skills are lacking? What literacy skills do these students need in order to be able to make sense of these texts?
Well, the required skills will depend on how that information is being disseminated to the students. Is the information linear or layered? Are animations of processes involved, or flow charts and ordered directions?
Students need to be multiliterate in order to interpret and understand information in these various forms as is delivered to them (Kalantzis et. al 2003). After all, we all know that information needs to be disseminated in a variety of ways to allow for the preferred individual learning modalities of each student (Snowman et. al 2009).

Kalantzis, M, Cope, B & Harvey, A March 2003, Assessment in Education: Assessing multiliteracies and the new basics, Vol 10, No 1. DOI 10.1080/0969594032000085721
Mawer, G 1999 Language and Literacy in Workplace Education: Learning at Work, Addison Wesley Longmand Limited, Essex.
Snowman, J, Dobozy, D, Scevak, J, Bryer, F, Bartlett, B, & Biehler 2009, Psychology applied to teaching, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Milton.
Winch, G, Ross Johnston, R, March, P, Ljungdahl, L & Holliday, M 2009, Literacy: reading, writing and children's literature, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.

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