“The distinctive contribution of the approach to literacy as social practice lies in the ways in which it involves careful and sensitive attention to what people do with texts, how they make sense of them and use them to further their own purposes in their own learning lives” (Gillen and Barton, 2010, p. 9).
The first course I took at ESC was Digital Storytelling, a course based on telling stories, sharing communication on a broader stage than I had been used to. It incorporated the use of several media platforms such as Blogger/WordPress, Wordle and Twitter, as well as several other sites which have multimedia capabilities such as Voice Threads, Animoto. While I had read blogs and heard about the Twitter craze, I hadn’t used either. I came to find that the use of blogs had had me connect with others in similar topics/subject areas. I may have read their blog and from that researched other information that I made a connection to.
Huffaker cites 2003 statistics that indicate 51.5% of all blogs are being developed and maintained by 13-19 year olds. I tried finding updated statistics because I have to believe that there is a shift in the percentage. The use of blogs has become widespread with adults. Companies use blogs on their websites for promotional purposes; newspapers have both their printed version and online version (which includes a variety of bloggers on subjects from politics to finance to entertainment and lifestyle) and social media platforms such as LinkedIn include subject area experts sharing their viewpoint as well as trending material. In academia, instructors have students use Blogger and WordPress as part of the curriculum.
According to Huffaker, blogs are both individualistic and collaborative promoting self-expression and connecting with an online community. From a learning theory perspective, I tend to favor humanistic style learning and through my own experiences or others I am able to make correlation between the text and assignments and shared experiences. I have used both for several of my courses in both undergraduate and graduate work. What began as generalized voicing my opinion or writing about nothing much, became writing blogs reflecting on weekly readings, and another way for me to learn.
At the same time, I hadn’t quite caught the Twitter craze. It didn’t seem to make much sense to me. I revisited it about a couple years later, and found learning advantages to it. I started following individuals on subject areas I had an interest in, particularly online learning and adult education. Through this platform individuals can share their viewpoint on a worldwide stage for anyone to read, interact with and share. It’s not to say that any of the authors are experts – but more sharing their view which a reader can relate to.
Lankshear and Knobel discuss active citizenship and its affect on education. They state, “Education for active citizenship calls for fostering a sophisticated “sociological imagination” that incorporates (what we call) institutional imagination, political imagination, cultural imagination and moral imagination.” (Lankshear & Knobel 2001-2003, p. 86) Twitter and blogs share information which individuals can either accept or reject based on their views. For example, today an blog was shared on LinkedIn about the MBTI (Say Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die). Supporters and those that favor the use of MBTI may reject what the author is saying based on their institutional imagination.
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (1992/94/97). Critical literacy and active citizenship. In C. Lankshear & M. Knobel, Literacies: Social, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives (p. 89). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
Huffaker, D. (2005). The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom. AACE Journal, 13(2), 91-98.