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MUVE :: Blog :: New Media Literacy’s

July 17, 2007

Henry Jenkins gave an insightful talk on day two of the Games Learning and Society conference about New Media Literacy’s. As with much of the conference the focus was on secondary school level education but as the discussion brought out, the general principles apply at all levels.

 The ‘digital divide’ is no longer such a big problem in that in the west at least most people have access to computers and the net. The new challenge is now how to encourage people to engage with the emerging participatory culture. The feeling in the US is that the ‘skill and drill’ educational philosophy is killing the motivation and development of potentially creative and innovative individuals. The online culture outside of formal education: gaming, social networking, the sharing of digital artefacts is much more sophisticated in the way it encourages those who participate to engage and create than the traditional formats found in schools (and Universities?). Jenkins points out that some people have the new types of literacy’s to take part in this and other don’t. He calls this the ‘participation gap’. He describes these new literacy skills as follows:

  • Play: the capacity to experiment with ones surroundings as a form of problem solving.
  • Performance: the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery. 
  • Simulation: the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes.
  • Appropriation: the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
  • Multitasking: the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition: the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacity
  • Collective Intelligence: the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal.
  • Judgement: the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different sources.
  • Transmedia Navigation: the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities.
  • Networking: the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information.
  • Negotiation: the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

 Then Jenkins broke into ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing…’  But seriously despite the slightly preachy style that this seems to be in it does make a lot of sense even if it is difficult to imagine what we can do to support these principles in practice. For me these are useful underpinning concepts in relation to what the next generation of elearning courses might look like and how they might be supported. It seems clear to me that these skills should be fostered at a higher education level. In fact, I see evidence of students who already have these skills (often learnt outside of school) at university but the institution does not recognise them and has not integrated their potential into the curriculum. I suspect that we already have the pallet of tools that we need to support these principles we just don’t know how to combine them yet. Maybe that’s the space that a number of the emerge projects should plan to work in?

 It’s also worth noting that Jenkins insisted that all of this was underpinned with basic literacy skills. If you can’t express your ideas in textually then it is not possible to participate in any great depth. So what we are looking at here is a range of skills that need to be layered on top of basic competencies. 

Overview for Keywords: GLS, literacy, participatory, Web 2.0

Blogs with Keywords: GLS, literacy, participatory, Web 2.0

Posted by MUVE - David White


  1. Hi David,

    When I read 'transmedia navigation' I smiled. It sounded so wiffy! Like something I might read journeying on the chocolate subway and wearing a marshmallow overcoat perhaps. I think my judgement skills are well enough developed to identify bull when I read it. And what a sad sad definition of networking. Where are the human beings in that?

    I guess when I next put the newspaper down and turn on the TV, I can think of myself as a transmedia navigator from now on. And to think that all this time I'd thought of myself as just being a couch potato. Maybe I just didn't give myself enough credit on a dark rain-soaked friday night. 

    Bless comrade Jenkins and good luck to all who navigate his waters. 




    Nicholas BowskillNicholas Bowskill on Friday, 20 July 2007, 20:34 UTC # |

  2. Your not wrong the tone is a bit waffly. I think it's a North American thing because the underlying message does make sense.

    David WhiteDavid White on Monday, 23 July 2007, 10:00 UTC # |

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