Radical change and wikis: teaching new literacies.

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Luce-Kapler, R.  (2007, November).  Radical change and wikis:  teaching new literacies.  Journal of adolescent and adult literacy.  Vol. 51, No.3:  214-223.

An Annotation by Jeffery Ayer

Luce-Kapler really puts together a wonderfully complex set of data based on a set of studies implemented on middle school students.  The focus was to “describe how our focus on developing broad digital skills nearly led to our missing the subtler learning that was actually taking place as students gained visual literacy skills, and we developed teaching practices that engaged students in exploring new literacies.

She also highlights three descriptors of the phrase “Radical Change” regarding new literacies in the following ways:

“(1)  changing forms and formats such as new forms of graphics, new levels of synergy between text and pictures, nonlinear and nonsequential organizations and formats, and multiple layers of meaning and interactive formats;

(2) changing perspectives such as multiple points of view both visual and verbal and previously unheard voices, including youth; and

(3) changing boundaries such as dealing with previously forbidden or overlooked subjects and settings, new types of communities, characters portrayed in new and complex ways, and unresolved endings” (215).

She goes on to highlight the simplicity of using a Wiki with students and how basic HTML language can allow a lot of creativity for students.  A telling result was that

“Working within the digital medium, [students] could combine image and print more interactively than before, and, for many students, this experience broadened their possibilities of meaning making in the classroom” (220).

She goes on to state that

“Through the teaching practices we used, students were engaged in processes designed to encourage connectivity, intertextuality, and the group skills necessary to understand and work within a network of learning” (220).

Toward the end of the article, Luce-Kapler identifies four key practices in implementing and helping students to develop a “strategy of orientation” in using the “many dimensions of Radical Change”:

  • Focusing Events – “activities and specific objects are organized to gather learners’ attention toward a rich, sensory opportunity where multiple ways of engaging are possible”;
  • Interacting in Groups – “understandings and interpretations emerge through shared projects”;
  • Enabling Constraints – “a description for any activity that offers specific guidelines and limitations to focus student action while still allowing enough openness for a variety of expressions”; and
  • Playing Opportunities – providing rules and limits while “At the same time, there is room for a variety of responses and actions” – as in playing and “trying out new ideas” (221-222).