Changing Literacies

One of the greatest influences in my thinking over the last twenty years has been Professor Stephen Heppell. I first came across him when he was working in Brentwood, Essex and I began to follow his ideas about the use of media in education.

He was very much a visionary of the way that technology was going to develop and how it would transform schools but most importantly he talked about the way that ICT could release the ability of humanity (and not just school-aged children or students) to learn. He always talked about the new age that we would progress to being “the learning age”

The video above is one of a number of short videos that he did for the innovative Scottish Education Department (Learning and Teaching Scotland). In the video he talks about the way that children have developed literacies of their own through their immersion in the mass media… they grow up with a  visual awareness and the capacity to express their ideas and develop their imagination through video and audio but schools are still run on the track of written and read literacy.

As we go towards another round of testing and examinations in our schools I wonder if we have taken the time to consider the changing literacy of the digital native living in the global village. Do we give them opportunities to express themselves using video and audio? Do we allow real assessment of their development with these media? How are we thinking about how we will incorporate these literacies into their portfolios so that, at the end of  their education there is a representation of how they think, feel and have developed in the medium that many of them feel most able to express this.. i.e.video and audio?

Looking back on the narrow written literacy of my own education I would have loved the chance to use different and powerful media such as is available today to show the world just what I was… instead of the grade given to me for being able to regurgitate information in an accepted style from a few questions in an exam taken in a stuffy school hall in the middle of a hot summer’s day.

Let the students show who and what they are. In the process of developing these literacies  they will also be extending the possibilities of what these literacies will become..as Stephen Heppell says …… the future is exciting. I may be like the teachers mentioned in his video who want to postpone retirement to join in all the excitement and witness the amazing things that the future generations are going to produce.

About malbell

I am a retired Teaching and Learning Consultant. Previously I was a Primary school headteacher and deputy headteacher. I enjoy reading, doing MOOCs and learning new things.
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