After joining in on a surface level to the discussions about 21st Century Literacy, I’ve made several decisions…
1) I needed a separate blog for professional discussions
2) I needed to tackle my own definition of “literacy” in the 21st Century
3) I hope this space serves that purpose to some extent
The impetus for this blog post and the blog as a whole was a Twitter discussion with @kellyhines and @bengrey. After joining in on the Elluminate discussion (chat log from @kellyhines) set up by Will Richardson I really do get the feeling that the term “literacy” is being tagged on to too many different ideas. There’s digital literacy, media literacy, network literacy, plain old “tried and true” literacy…and the distinctions between each are getting more and more blurred.
After reading Ryan Bretag’s take here I was struck by the broad and varied use of the term “literacy”.
This means seeing the skills and skill sets that make up a literate person as organic and rooted in what is happening socially, politically, and even economically. In fact, Barton would say literacy is “a phenomenon [that] requires for its explanation the attention of at least 8 academic disciplines: physiology, psychology, sociology, economics, technology, political science, history, and anthropology”.
While discussing this with @kellyhines and @bengrey we talked about the idea of “numeracy” being a separate idea and having a separate term, so I threw out (half jokingly) the idea of being “technorate” to explain someone being literate in technology.
So what exactly is it that a “technorate” person can or should be able to do? Well, I think that goes back to the basis of the whole discussion. While some are focusing on the definition of the terms, I think there’s more value in looking at being “technorate” in practice. Just as in my classroom I am less worried about students being able to regurgitate a definition, and more worried about their understanding of the relationship of those terms to other ideas in science and culture.
What is being “technorate”?
First and foremost I think being technorate involves an understanding of how connected the world has become. The rapid availability of a global audience is unprecedented and many, if not most, students do not recognize the power they have available. This also involves an understanding of their various digital footprints. Moving forward they must know how to manage their identity online.
Additionally, I think being technorate involves keeping a finger on the pulse of emerging technologies. I have long since decided that we cannot examine every new piece of software and hardware that falls out of the Cloud. Tony Vincent made that readily apparent to me when he pointed out the now 9,900 web apps cataloged by Simple Spark. However, burying our collective heads in the sand won’t work either. Teaching our kids to be adaptive to new and better tech tools is far more important than narrowly focusing on specific tools.
By no means are those two things a complete defnition. I’m interested to know what else people think being technorate means?