Literacy…Just Literacy

Emerging Literacy

I was absolutely amazed watching the video “Splitscreen; A Love Story” on Vimeo yesterday.  Not only for the vision and way that the story is told (which is absolutely amazing), but because of what it was shot with.  This video, with obviously some fantastic planning and editing, was shot entirely with a cellphone (The Nokia N8 according to the description).

This type of story telling through video medium has come a long way since the days that my brothers and I put together a version of The Three Little Pigs when we were kids.  My family was lucky to have a VCR and Camcorder (not sure if that was what they were even called when my parents purchased it) and my dad spent somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2000 for the device(s).  Our VCR alone probably weighed in the area of 25 pounds and was actually in two pieces.  There was no easy way to edit these types of videos and only some families had access to them. The technology was not as ubiquitous at the time, and you had to be a real technology lover to invest in this type of device.  Now these cameras are everywhere.  If you watch the video below, although empowering to the child, it was not just that easy to create and share videos like it is now:


I have had my share of digital cameras since I have become a teacher, but I have never used any of them as much as I have used the camera on my iPhone.  My brother once said that the best camera you have is the one on you, and the nice thing about my iPhone is that it is always with me.  Sites such as SocialCam make it easy to not only take video, but to tweet them out and share them instantly.  I have also enjoyed sharing my pictures on sites such as Flickr and which don’t only make sharing pictures easy, but they make it social.

Will Richardson talked about the importance of literacy  (not digital literacy, but literacy which has and should continuously evolve) and I would say that the visual medium is one that I am expanding in, but still have a long way to go.  As shared by Will, the National Council of Teachers of English define the 21st Century literacies (the first one would be where I would place the visual components that I am trying to expand):

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments
Although I agree with all of the above (the importance of creativity should be emphasized in some manner though), I do believe that we have to drop the term “21st Century” when describing the above. Should this not just be a part of ‘literacy’?  Are using these tools that we have to create and communicate not just a part of being literate in our world?  You even see terms like “digital literacy” being thrown around often. Do we speak of pencil literacy? Paper literacy?  Or do we talk about components of what makes up literacy (reading and writing)?

Embrace Digital Literacy

When looking up the “definition of literacy”, I found the following information on this site:

The definition of literacy is dynamic, evolving, and reflects the continual changes in our society.  Literacy has, for instance, expanded to include literacy in information and communication technologies and critical literacy (Cunningham, 2000; Harste, 1994; Leu, 2002; Mol1, 1994; Paris, Lipson & Wixson, 1994; Yopp & Singer, 1994).

Most of the authors referenced in this article are cited before the 21st century, but they seemed to have a solid understanding that this is something that is continuously changing.  Shouldn’t that be the way for anything that has to do with learning?  Dynamic, evolving and reflecting the way our world is progressing and growing.

As our world grows and changes, what are your thoughts on literacy?  Is creativity a part of literacy?  We know that as things change, often parts of what might have been known as literacy (such as cursive writing?) may need to be dropped or focused on a lot less.  I would love to hear what you think.

I really wanted to share the video that started me thinking about this post below; take the time to watch it as it is pretty amazing both in story and how it was done.


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