This week’s readings included Reading Digitally Like A Historian: Using Multimedia Texts to Facilitate Disciplinary Learning, CRA (Manderino, 2012), The Web as a Source of Information for Students in K-12 Education (Kuiper & Volman, 2008) and Where Do We Go Now? Understanding Research and Navigation in Complex Digital Environments (Lawless). The demands that the Web makes on student knowledge, skills and attitudes as well as how to deal with it all in an educational setting leads to a socioconstructivist theoretical framework. The attitudes and values are socially routed, giving students responsibility in constructing their own knowledge and transforming information into something personal. The teacher is no longer the safe on the stage, but a guide on the side. The teacher’s role is now of a facilitator who can support the learning process, but is not the sole transmitter of knowledge. Students need to increase competent participation in discourse and become members of an inquiry-based community.
This theoretical framework is a shift from the traditional practices that are in classrooms today. Also, state assessments are not measuring the skills and strategies that are necessary for 21st century learning. I believe it will be a long road before we can compare Web literacy skills to our formative assessments. Teachers have been trained on how to create curricular based assessments, but now we are asking students to perform comparably to online learning. Teachers much first have foundational knowledge on these new literacies in order to teach to them.
Manderino’s point is that literacies need to be specific to the disciplines. Disciplinary literacy is the cognitive literacy processes used to make meaning, the cultural tools, including language and texts that mediate thinking, and the epistemic beliefs about knowledge and knowledge production that constitute the discipline. Learning focuses on reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking like a historian, chemist, mathematician, or literary critic. Basically, we need to teach students to think like others. By using print, visual and audio text, teachers can bring content to student to provide background knowledge and have students be able to move forward with their learning. Students may access different types of media with more success than others. Teachers should not limit what the students are exposed to based on their own needs, but to bring a variety to the student, so the student can make the decision of which direction he/she wants to go in. The three areas of teaching that Manderino emphasizes in this article are utilize multimedia texts as a scaffold for complex written texts, assemble digital text sets, and teach critical consumption of digital texts. These three areas are relevant for all disciplines.
We always need to think about where we are headed. The use of the web has increased among the ages of 9-17 from 1/3 of students in 1997 to almost 3/4 of students in 2005. With the increase in use, the ability to navigate to find information effectively has not. The challenge that we have will be to create opportunities for students to access the contexts they need in order to be able to build background, make educated decisions and construct knowledge.