New Literacies & Implications for Education

Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. (2014) Studying New Literacies. ResearchGate.

This article explores new literacies and implications for education. New Literacies refer to the new way that literacy and communication are transmitted in the digital age that started in the 1990’s. New literacies are now prevalent because of the innovations in digital technology including the internet, blogs, social media, online research and digital literature. In the past, literacy primarily involved print media on paper, and had a limited scope to its exposure and collaborative options. According to Knobel and Lankshear (2014), “Social practices characterized by a new “ethos,” new literacies are more participatory, collaborative, and distributed, and less “published,” less “author- centric,” and less “individual” than conventional literacies. New literacies have also created new social outlets for people of similar interests around the world. Fan fiction, which involves people who are fans of similar genres or authors of literature, helps to connect people outside of the same geographical locations via social media. This assists in cultivating a much larger social network for people in this digital age.

New literacies are having a substantial impact on traditional literacy courses that are taught in conventional classrooms. New literacies offer a platform for a variety of opinions and perspectives that can be synthesized to create new knowledge, which is a paradigm shift from previous literacy. New literacies involve a new digital language and culture that thrives on flexibility of modes of communication. Therefore, abbreviated written communication with new jargon is continuously evolving with new literacies. As a result, the implication for traditional educators is that explicit, standard literacy instruction must be emphasized to ensure that students have substantial reading and writing capabilities. Educators must also be well versed in the new literacies, especially in the area of conducting reliable and valid research to be able to teach learners how to effectively utilize new literacies in academia.

This article is insightful because it acknowledges that there is a paradigm shift occurring in literature and communication. It discusses the attributes of new literacies as well as the implications for educators in a digital world. Educators need to be aware and proficient in new literacies to develop the best pedagogical strategies to incorporate educational technology into classrooms. New literacies can be used for entertainment engaging instruction. However, educators must also be able to guide learners in how to leverage new literacies effectively in traditional literacy.

As an educator, I believe that new literacies offer a wide range of educational opportunities for students. The interactivity of digital electronics can enhance pedagogical strategies in the classroom. However, students must also be taught the limitations of some new literacies regarding their reading and writing development for their grade level or age. It is pertinent that teachers continue to teach traditional grammar, mechanics, spelling, reading comprehension and writing skills explicitly, so that K-12 students are aware of the differences that may occur in new literacies. Students should still be expected to perform on or above grade level in literacy courses using standard linguistic skills in a traditional classroom setting.

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Everett-Cacopardo, H., Leu, D., McVerry, G., O’Byrne, I., & Zawilinski, L. Comments on greenhow, robelia, and hughes: Expanding the new literacies conversation. Educational Researcher.