Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Who is Digital Literacy for?

So I am stuck in last week's storytelling mode because I am still working with Popcorn Maker. While you can turn the sound off on the video you've downloaded, you can't seem to be able to replace the sound track with another track ( I was thinking of replacing the sound track on Twitter vs. Zombies to yodeling just for fun. It changes the impact of the video that's for sure! If you want to try this go to Soundcloud, find your favourite track, open Popcorn Maker and turn the sound off on the video you are using as the base for your new mash up.) I was looking at the popup feature which does have a sound aspect but I am not sure how that would work when trying to replace an entire soundtrack plus you have the popup bubble on your screen. Am I just asking too much from the program? Any other Popcorn Makers out there having the same issue?

This leads into the subject of digital literacy. I have yet to see the discussion by Doug Belshaw and I will probably miss part of tonight's discussion with Howard Rheingold. Real life interfering with digital life! But what is digital literacy, really? Does it mean that I can swim in the digital pond? There are times I think I may be just dog paddling and not able to complete a lap. And yet, I am supposed to be competent in the area of technology (or at least my degree says so!) So if I am feeling a tad overwhelmed at times, how must it be for those who have little to no experience with technology?

I found my dad a few weeks ago, attempting to email someone back and he had placed his message in the bcc line. My dad is an intelligent man, well read and fluent in a verbal argument. But he does not write. (He's a lefty and there were a few too many cracks on the knuckles when he was trying to write left handed so he just doesn't do it with his right hand or his left hand.) But he will type occasionally. But he doesn't use email. And email today is so ubiquitous that programmers really don't think about new users too much anymore. And you have to know where to get help to use help on a page. And he did not.

So how easy is digital literacy? It demands so much more of us than traditional literacy because we not only have to engage with people and print in real time, we now have to write and maintain a written presence, have some sort of oral presence and perhaps a pictorial presence online. We need to be willing to fling ourselves off the digital cliff so to speak, to dive into the deep waters of new programs and ways of communicating. And how many of us are committed to being a perpetual student? And what about access to digital literacy? Is this literacy only for the connected few with high speed internet? So literacy for the elite? How many more divisions are we going to put between those who are struggling with basic literacy and those of us who have the time, energy, money and education to swim in this pond?

So as usual no answers, but a whole pile of questions!


  1. I haven't found a way to replace a sound track with Popcorn.
    As to digital literacy - I think it will always be different things to different people. Some will be literate in small segments of the digital world - just e-mail or search the web. Others will explore other areas - creating, curating, sharing,... It all depends on what each individual needs to know to accomplish what they want to do. But younger people will have to know how to learn - so when they "need to know" they have strategies of where and how to learn what they need.

  2. Hi Susan, thanks for the feedback. I agree that digital literacy is crucial for our young people and that those of us in the system need to unpack this for them soonest. Sadly, not all of the students in Canada are literate and digital literacy is even further from their grasp. 30% of the Arctic has no Internet. What do we do for these children?

  3. Watching Doug Belshaw's archived session. So one of my questions answered. No access, you're pre-digital literacies.

  4. Good point about digital literacy being for the "connected," those with high-speed internet connections, and who have the desire and capacity to learn how to use digital tools. Is this a problem? perhaps, but only if we start to think that digital literacy is required for being a full-fledged citizen in the 21st century. It's not (yet, I think), but one thing that could happen is that we only communicate with those people who are digital citizens, thus limiting our discussions to a certain group of people. We might think we are being more "global" in our communications and reach, and getting ideas from lots of different kinds of people, but really we are still in a relatively small community when we are working online.

    Thanks for pointing this out!