New literacies – new media – new networks

Two questions from teachers this week set me on a new search for information – which of course included using the power of my professional learning community.

Question 1. Year 8 English is about to embark on an ICT unit where they will explore Youth Culture on the web? Could I help with theme, websites, ethics, nettiquette etc. Could I? I began to think about so many things, and so many ways to work on this that my mind began to spin like a top.

Question 2. Could I help them in Drama to work with Shakespeare in some new ways, using some of the tools I had mentioned at the Subject Co-ordinators meeting? Well, I didn’t actually mention many, but I did alert the group to new possibilities, trying to capture the interest of a few brave souls.

So I asked my professional network for more information. From Twitter came a reply from Laura Nicosia who teaches in these fields, being a professor of English and Director of English Education at Montclair State University in NJ.


Urrgh, I couldn’t believe it! (sounding like a kids story now!). Just that evening I had missed attending the launch of Angela’s book, and having dinner with her and a good group of friends passionate about these topics.

Never mind, let me promote Angela’s blog and her Youth Online book to you. Angela works at Sydney University English Education researching digital cultures, new media literacies, multimodal semiotics and digital narratives. Angela also teaches and conducts auto-ethnographic research in Second Life. Needless to say, Angela (Anya Ixchel) and I (Heyjude Jenns) sometimes get up to mischief in Second Life!

We are very fortunate indeed to have such expertise right here on our doorstep! I’m still waiting for my copy of the book, but I know it will be just what I need to help develop our work with the Year 8 English cohort.

Of course Laura went on to point out another excellent resource. The person launching Angela’s book was literacy expert Colin Lanksheer, who together with Michele Knobel co-authored a new release of New Literacies: Everyday practice and classroom learning. This book will also help us understand the real meaning of ‘new’ in ‘new literacies’. I’ll add this to my shopping list now!

Laura had dinner the night before with Michele – and I was supposed to have dinner with Angela! This six degrees of separation thing really is something!

From Colin and Michele’s blog, Everyday Literacies, I also learnt about the Folger Shakespeare Library, and a fantastic set of resources for enabling students to produce audio plays from Shakespeare’s work. These have been collated into a set of free, online resources titled: “Remixing Shakespeare.”

This set of resources includes an introductory video–and this is a must see! I have yet to observe a group of high school students more engaged in reading Shakespeare than the kids in this video. This introduction is accompanied by samples of students’ audio plays (brilliant!), a how-to set of tutorial guides, and a set of audio and audio editing resources. This is such a nice example of what can be done in schools within existing requirements and with digital technologies in ways that the students no doubt themselves find compelling and useful beyond school.

I grabbed the video and dropped it into my VodPod collection. It is vital that we teachers and teacher librarians take a lead role in showing students how to work effectively, legally and ethically to use materials in new mashups which allow for remix of original materials in creative and compelling ways to create wonderfully original works.

You know, I love my professional network 🙂 They give me so much knowledge and inspiration.

Oh, and Bec (from school) and myself are attending Angela’s Digital Literacy course. Can’t wait to have fun with machinima.

7 thoughts on “New literacies – new media – new networks

  1. Pingback: Education and Copyrights « Leah Dewhurst’s Weblog

  2. Pingback: According to expert Laura Nicosia… « Got Social?

  3. Michael, I’m glad to hear that you are shaking a few foundations! There are too many reasons why we have to encourage teachers to purge their filing cabinets of ‘trusty’ resources and assessments – particularly in this topic/field of study. Can’t wait to hear your war stories on this one 🙂

  4. Jo, please do tell us about your chapter, your experiences in this field, and your great ideas for teaching this topic. I should have realized that you are a bit of an expert in this field too!!

  5. Keep us posted on year 8, Judy… I too am working very closely on year 8 English this term – more in relation to multi-modal literacies as part of a unit on Contemporary Australia.

    Much to my chagrin at the start of this unit, I leafed my way through its compiled resources, only to discover that virtually every text set for study was irrelevant, out of date, and hardly contemporary. Teachers should be shot for ignoring online texts or regarding them as invalid/inaccurate/whatever for the purposes of building literacy, especially when the alternatives they propose are dog-eared, ten-year-old black and white photocopies that are barely legible… for a unit on CONTEMPORARY Australia?! Please!

    Anyway, as you might expect, I’m shaking things up and putting noses out of joint to no end…


  6. Hi Judy, yes the Folger shakespeare video was put together by my friend Chris Shamburg, who I will be meeting at NECC!! (I wrote a chapter in the book he is having published in May)

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