Connectivism And Modern Literacy

In the 20th century literacy was simply the “ability to read and write”. The subset of skills necessary to be called literate has changed greatly and the definition has expanded to encompass the, ” …ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.” (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) With the advent of the internet and social media students have been challenged to add new resources to their tool set to be prepared to be productive citizens in the information age. Modern literacy in the information age calls for lifetime learners with a set of skills that are constantly evolving and is permeated by dynamic, participatory media (social), and web-based tools that aid collaboration and information sharing.

In the book “Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement,Howard Rheingold wrote: “If print culture shaped the environment in which the Enlightenment blossomed and set the scene for the Industrial Revolution, participatory media might similarly shape the cognitive and social environments in which twenty first century life will take place (a shift in the way our culture operates). For this reason, participatory media literacy is not another subject to be shoehorned into the curriculum as job training for knowledge workers.

Participatory media include (but aren’t limited to) blogs, wikis, RSS, tagging and social bookmarking, music-photo-video sharing, mashups, podcasts, digital storytelling, virtual communities, social network services, virtual environments, and videoblogs.”

Modern youth multi-task more often, multi-task more effectively and have shorter attention spans than any up to this point in history. This student demands the use of rich multimedia learning environments and, project-based instruction that engages the student and challenges him to use dynamic web-based tools and participatory media. Terms like “Connectivism” and “Networked Learning” are now being used to describe the new processes that are emerging. Here is a excellent video that explains these new paradigms and what they mean for the 21st century classroom.


This is a key reason teaching must change to keep up with the new paradigms called for in the information age. The lecture-based educational model is obsolete and role of the teacher has morphed from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide by a students side”.

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