Writing as a Community Practice

In a recent post on the Digital Media & Learning blog the topic of Community and Writing in an Age of New Collectives was explored.  The most interesting point was the recognition that writing is a community practice.  This is likely the result of literacy emerging from oral tradition (see Walter Ong for an in-depth treaty on orality and literacy).

Besides the importance in understand that community encourages stronger writing, the post argues that to fully prepare students to write, we need to prepare students for community.   Also, the audience is crucial.

One way to do this is by leveraging the communities that students are already participating in, from those in their local neighborhoods, to online communities such as those around fanfics or social networks. The ability of computer networks to connect students with others in different physical locations provides a fertile ground for teaching students how to interact with new communities of writers.

They argue that this is the responsibility of schools, but I would disagree.  Schools only offer a temporary community for these students, whereas libraries offer a lifetime community.

The Twelve Cognitive Processes that Underlie Learning

So many people are thinking, talking, reading, writing and working towards 21st Century Skills, from what I can see most of them are not librarians and libraries don’t figure into their projections or plans. While I am heartened to see so many groups thinking about our problems, I’m discouraged at the lack of a role for libraries, whether school, public or academic.

I recently came across another group working to ensure students acquires the skills necessary for to be successful citizens in today’s world. Engines for Education was founded by Roger Schank who writes at Education Outrage

Dr. Schank was the Founder of the renowned Institute for the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, where he is John P. Evans Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, Education and Psychology. He was Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at Yale University and Director of the Yale Artificial Intelligence Project. He was a visiting professor at the University of Paris VII, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Linguistics at Stanford University and research fellow at the Institute for Semantics and Cognition in Switzerland. He also served as the Distinguished Career Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a fellow of the AAAI and was founder of the Cognitive Science Society and co-founder of the Journal of Cognitive Science. He holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from University of Texas.

From Engines for Education (emphasis added by me)

The following cognitive skills are developed gradually over time. This is the stuff that we need to learn how to do in order to function well in the world. . The more proficient you are at these skills, the smarter you appear and the more you can learn:

Conceptual Processes

1. Prediction: Making a prediction about the outcome of actions
2. Modeling: Building a conscious model of a process
3. Experimentation: Finding out for oneself what works and what doesn’t
4. Evaluation: Improving our ability to determine the value of something on many different dimensions

Analytic Processes

5. Diagnosis: Making a diagnosis of a complex situation by identifying relevant factors and seeking causal explanations
6. Planning: Learning to plan and do needs analysis as well as acquiring a conscious and subconscious understanding of what goals are satisfied by what plans
7. Causation: Detecting what has caused a sequence of events to occur by relying upon a case base of previous knowledge of similar situations
8. Judgment: Making an objective judgment

Social Processes

9. Influence: Understanding how others respond to your requests and recognizing consciously and unconsciously how to improve the process
10. Teamwork: Learning how to achieve goals by using a team, consciously allocating roles, managing inputs from others, coordinating actors, and handling conflicts; managing operations using a model of processes and handling real time issues
11. Negotiation: Making a deal; negotiation/contracts; resolving goal conflicts
12. Describing: Creating conscious descriptions of situations to explain them to others in writing and orally

One’s intelligence is typically judged by others in relation to one’s proficiency at five of these cognitive skills:

  • Prediction
  • Diagnosis
  • Causation
  • Describing
  • Planning

Introducing Transliteracy: What Does It Mean to Academic Libraries?

Our very own Tom Ipri has an article about transliteracy in College & Research Libraries News

Transliteracy is recent terminology gaining currency in the library world. It is a broad term encompassing and transcending many existing concepts. Because transliteracy is not a library-centric concept, many in the profession are unsure what the term means and how it relates to libraries’ instructional mission and to other existing ideas about various literacies. Transliteracy is such a new concept that its working definition is still evolving and many of its tenets can easily be misinterpreted. Although this term is in flux, academic librarians should watch developments in this new field to continually assess and understand what impact it may have on the ways they assist and interact with their patrons and each other.


Read the whole article

The resources he makes reference to:


Ryan Nadel Answers – What Is This Buzz Word “Transliteracy”?

CiL2010 April 12th tweets in wordle

Ryan Nade is not a librarian. He is one of the authors of a white paper, “Digital Literacy in Canada: From Inclusion to Transformation” calling for federal leadership in creating a national digital literacy strategy to ensure that all Canadians have the necessary skills to use digital technologies to their fullest potential.

Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning talked with Nadel about how transliteracy and new media technologies are altering our lives.

Spotlight: What does it mean to be effectively transliterate?

RN: Kids are transliterate. They are naturally using so many mediums. If you watch them interact, especially socially, they talk, they’re on their phones and on their laptops.

But, are they effectively transliterate? Do they connect all of those spaces in meaningful ways? How do you go from friending someone on Facebook to meeting them at the corner store and sending them a text when you leave? So their transmedia education is not about how to use email, but the ability to adapt to using new literacies. You will learn how to use an iPad or a Kindle, but is there an understanding between the iPad, the classroom and the playground? We need to create experiences that speak to that.

Parents and teachers see kids using Facebook, texting and using other technology so fast, and it’s such a huge part of their lives, that on the other side of the digital divide we ask, “What do we have to teach them? It’s their medium. It’s their social ecosystem.” But what’s missing is how does one medium translates to the next. It’s about connecting all of these chains of communication.

Read the whole interview.

Transliteracy Interest Group Meeting at ALA MidWinter

If you are a member of ALA and will be at the MidWinter conference in January please add our first official meeting to you calendar. Location to be determined.

We’ll be discussing the goals and purpose of the group. Bring your ideas to share and your questions if you’re new to transliteracy.

Transliteracy Interest Group Monday January 10th 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
First meeting of transliteracy interest group will be a round-table style discussion of the future and goals of the group.

Posted in ALA. Tags: , . 1 Comment »

Howard Rheingold on Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies

There is a great article  by Howard Rheingold up at EDUCAUSE focusing on 21s Century Literacies.

If you were the only person on earth who knew how to use a fishing rod, you would be tremendously empowered. If you were the only person on earth who knew how to read and write, you would be frustrated and empowered only in tiny ways, like writing notes to yourself. When it comes to social media, knowing how to post a video or download a podcast—technology-centric encoding and decoding skills—is not enough. Access to many media empowers only those who know how to use them. We need to go beyond skills and technologies. We need to think in terms of literacies. And we need to expand our thinking of digital skills or information literacies to include social media literacies.

Social media—networked digital media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and wikis—enable people to socialize, organize, learn, play, and engage in commerce. The part that makes social media social is that technical skills need to be exercised in concert with others: encoding, decoding, and community.

I focus on five social media literacies:

  • Attention
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Network awareness
  • Critical consumption

Although I consider attention to be fundamental to all the other literacies, the one that links together all the others, and although it is the one I will spend the most time discussing in this article, none of these literacies live in isolation.1 They are interconnected. You need to learn how to exercise mindful deployment of your attention online if you are going to become a critical consumer of digital media; productive use of Twitter or YouTube requires knowledge of who your public is, how your participation meets their needs (and what you get in return), and how memes flow through networked publics. Ultimately, the most important fluency is not in mastering a particular literacy but in being able to put all five of these literacies together into a way of being in digital culture.

Libraries in a Transliterate, Technology Fluent World at Internet Librarian #intlib10

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