Literacy can mean many things to different people. My viewpoint of literacy does not just involve the acquisition of reading and writing skills, but also skills in social perception and new media. In the present, technology plays a very large role in literacy as a form of multimodal literacy.

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What we typically think of as literacy

I believe that having access to multimodal literacy though technology gives children added benefits and advantages. An article discussing benefits of multimodal literacy practice defines collaborative multimodal dialogue between children as “inter-subjective meaning-making processes that occur through interaction and joint engagement in activity and are expressed through multiple communicative modes, such as gaze, gesture, movement and talk.” (Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R., 2010, p.388). A child using a tool such as computer opens up new possibilities for communication and literacy learning.

Although I believe traditional literacy learning is important, I also believe that educators need to be able to adapt to new mediums and tools for education.

“To participate effectively in twenty-first century literacy practices, it is necessary (i) to have access to human and material resources – people, books, objects, markmaking equipment, computers, mobile phones or internet connections; (ii) to have the skills to operate or engage with them effectively; and (iii) to have a critical understanding of the potential of diverse literacy tools: how they might be used in different ways and for different purposes. ” (Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R., 2010, p.386).

Think of what you can accomplish with the use of technology. Computers give children a way to communicate and practice literacy skills through social media. Games also allow children to experience literacy through 3D worlds, interactions and storylines. Exposure to technology gives children a different perspective and shows children that literacy can be more than just communication through writing and verbal interactions.

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Literacy is not just about writing words on paper in the 21st century

Technology itself can be a form of new literacy. Learning how to use new tools effectively can give children a new skill set which enables them to experience literacy with all of the sense.

If children do not have opportunities to use technology, then I believe that they miss out on  on learning new mediums to communicate. Learning how to write an email, instant message someone or video chat are skills that are relevant to the 21st century and are part of new age literacy.  “Understanding the role of digital technologies in the processes of young children’s literacy development is crucial to ensure that all children have equal access to opportunities to learn in schools today.” (Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R., 2010, p.397).

Technology is very rich and can help encourage literacy in many different ways. CD’s can be used to experience music or tell a story. Recorders can get children to create their own stories or to make messages. Technology can be a very social used when used in educational approaches.

Literacy experiences through technology are fun an engaging for children. In my last classroom placement children wanted to use the computer to make wordles and had fun playing with different words. Children would take time to craft these perfectly formed word webs and at the same time were practicing words they needed to know for their weekly spelling test. It was a great way to make literacy a fun experience for the children and the children benefited since they were able to broaden their vocabulary through technology as well as become more literate technology users.

Overall, I believe that multimodal literacy is a great concept and it does not have to just occur through technology. Children can engage in literacy through outdoor play and exploration. Children can also have literacy experiences through the ways in which they interact with peers and what children can learn about their own personalities and emotions. Anything where a child is successful in mastering communication and understanding through the senses can be a multimodal form of literacy.

 

References

Wolfe, S., & Flewitt, R. (2010). New technologies, new multimodal literacy practices and young children’s metacognitive development. Cambridge Journal Of Education, 40(4), 387-399.

(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)

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