Further Defining Digital Literacies: Amplifying Language and Experience

Defining Digital Literacies NCTE amplifyI’m slowly reading and digesting, and appreciating, the National Council of Teachers of English revised definition of Literacy in a Digital Age, and I am appreciating the depth of the inquiry.

In this last section of the definition of literacy, which centers on how literacy and digital tools can amplify one’s multicultural heritage and stories in the world, I am struck by the guiding questions:

  • Do learners have opportunities to utilize digital texts and tools to validate their existence and lived experiences?
  • Do learners have opportunities to connect them with their textual and historical lineage and narratives?
  • Do learners explore and critique the premises, myths, and stereotypes that are often held by the dominant culture?
  • Do learners have space in the curriculum to support positive racial and ethnic identity development while pushing back against marginalized narratives?
  • Do learners have opportunities to increase engagement with reading and other academic subjects?
  • Do learners have access to images and narratives of multilingual identities and cultures from marginalized communities?
  • Do learners have space in the curriculum to provide healing from the damages to marginalized communities?

These are the topics of our times, as many schools and universities grapple with how to expand the traditional canon and incorporating the stories and learning of diverse cultures, and our students, themselves. The section uses the phrase of “variations of language” in an interesting way, pushing us to consider the quilt of human experience.

Thinking of my own teaching/classroom environment, I often admittedly feel woefully inadequate in this topic, even though I know I have been systematically trying to expand the aspects of literacy with my sixth graders, with different kinds of texts and a wider sense of story and characters.

When I think of how this sense of student agency and empowerment might connect to digital tools and literacy instruction, it seems to me that all students could do more with mapping projects to analyze the world, with creating audio and video projects to project voice and agency, with image and infographics, with writing and publishing their own diverse stories into the world. Such projects would validate their experiences and remind us all that there is not, nor never has been, one single story.

We are multitudes, to twist Whitman a bit.

Peace (amplified),

  1. Kevin, after viewing part of Alison McDowell’s video are there other things that should be added to the the National Council of Teachers of English list?

    Such as concerns for how student data is fed into a massive information base used by corporations, and governments, to control their lives?

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