“Technology isn’t good or bad. It’s powerful, and its complicated.” –Sherry Turkle
Context: Do you remember the first time you sent an email to your friend? Or, what about the first time you posted a picture of yourself on the Internet? Over the past twenty years or so, we have all become a part of the information age or what some call the digital revolution. While everyone here has attained literacy—the ability to read and write, have you ever thought about your journey to becoming digitally literate?
So, what is “digital literacy”?
The following is a section from the article “Digital Literacy: An Evolving Definition” from Education Week.
Because the term “digital literacy” is so wide-ranging, it can cause confusion. What exactly is someone talking about when he or she refers to digital literacy? Is it the consumption, creation, or communication of digital material? Or is that person discussing a particular digital tool? Do technology skills like computer coding fall under the digital-literacy umbrella as well?
Some experts prefer the term “digital literacies,” to convey the many facets of what reading and writing in the modern era entails.
“The concept should instead be considered plural—digital literacies—because the term implies multiple opportunities to leverage digital texts, tools, and multimodal representations for design, creation, play, and problem solving,” Jill Castek, a research assistant professor with the Literacy, Language, and Technology Research Group at Portland State University, wrote in an email.
Leu of UConn avoids the term altogether.
“Is someone who is ‘digitally literate’ equally literate when searching for information, when critically evaluating information, when using Snapchat, when using email, when using text messaging, when using Facebook, or when using any one of many different technologies for literacy and learning?” asked Leu in an email. “I think not.”
He prefers the term “new literacies,” which he said better conveys how rapidly technology is changing. Other experts have used terms like “literacy and technology,” “multiliteracies,” and “21st century literacies.”
But for now, digital literacy seems to be the prevailing term among educators. “I understand this is the term that is popular today,” Leu said, “just as I understand a newer term will appear in the future that will replace it.”
If you would like to read the entire article, it can be found here (Links to an external site.).
The Assignment: Write a four-five, page essay in which you narrate/describe/analyze your experiences using technology. There are a number of ways to handle this assignment, but here are three possible approaches:
- Nowadays, it’s common to assume multiple, online identities through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, or video sites such as YouTube and Vine. Therefore, describe and analyze your online or virtual identity. To help you write this essay, look over your statuses, tweets, photos, and/or videos that you have posted and try to answer the following question: how is your online identity different or similar to your offline (IRL) identity? Either way, the key is to use examples from these various experiences to support your main idea.
- Write about your journey to becoming digitally literate and how the Internet and/or other technologies (music, TV, movies, social media, tech. devices, video games, etc.) became a important facet of your daily life. It’s also possible that some of you were not born, iPhone in hand, and are still struggling to find your place in this “brave new world.” You can write about that! Nevertheless, you should chronologically trace your growth and development in this digital era.
- This third approach is a combination of A & B. You could focus on one or two major experiences related to technology and media. For example, a previous student wrote about how he met his wife through social media and how their relationship developed over time. Another student wrote about her addiction to online gambling and how it forced her to stop using the Internet entirely.
No matter what approach you choose, the first step is to start doing some brainstorming. I would suggest exploring the following questions (you could make two or three of them the main focus for your paper). However, do not organize your paper as if you are answering study questions for each paragraph. The letters in the parentheses match up with the Approaches above. We will be doing some of this in Discussion #3.
- In what ways are you different online than you are in person? (A)
- What do the types of social networks you use or the statuses you post, tweets, or photos reveal about your online identity? (A)
- What are the specific memories you have about the computer/technology literacy road you have traveled thus far in your life? Has your road to technology literacy been an easy journey or a long, uphill climb? Why? (B)
- Who influenced you or helped you on the road to literacy? Is there a teacher, friend, or family member who inspired you to learn how to use the Internet, other computer applications, video games, etc.? (B)
- How has your ability/inability to become technologically proficient affected your ability to write, read, and perform well in college? What about your work performance? (B)
- How has the Internet and/or other technologies improved or not improved your life? (A & B)
- What types of technology do you use every day, and what do these technologies “say” about your beliefs, interests, values, etc.? Could you disconnect from these technologies if you had to? (A & C)
Other Important Points:
–You do not need a thesis statement for this essay, but you should have a controlling idea that may or may not be stated in the writing. A controlling idea is essentially your purpose for telling this story. This may also work best in your conclusion instead of your introduction. However, you may include a thesis statement if it makes you feel more comfortable.
–Since this is your story and experiences, it is acceptable to use the first person (I), but try not to overuse it. For example, avoid phrases such as: I believe that social media is evil. Instead, just write: social media is evil.
–For this essay, you are not just narrating a story, but describing the events, using specific details and sensory impressions. Furthermore, you are analyzing the situations, explaining to the reader why these events are significant to the story’s purpose.
–In addition to using personal experience, you should incorporate quotes, summaries, and/or paraphrases from at least two of the following sources (not all of these sources will required reading):
- “The Touch Screen Generation”
- 3 Fears About Screen Time for Kids and Why They’re Not True
- “To Siri, With Love”
- “#Me: Instagram Narcissism and the Scourge of the Selfie
- “A Perfectly Curated Instagram Feed Isn’t Real Life…”
- “Digital Literacy: An Evolving Definition”
- How Millennials Became the Selfie Generation
- “Everything You Thought You Knew About Love is Wrong”
- How to Stop Swiping and Find Your Person on Dating Apps
You will use these sources to support any points that you make and/or to relate to an experience that you have had.
–Use only relevant details; too many extraneous details can slow down an essay’s pace.
–You should approach your audience as skeptical but willing to “go along for the ride.” Make sure you are specific when talking about people, places, and objects so that the writing is more relatable.
–For the structure, chronological (a time sequence) order normally works best, but you might explore other avenues such as telling your story in flashbacks or building up to a climax by providing hints along the way. Whatever you do, I encourage you to try and leave the five-paragraph essay format behind. –Try to incorporate the 5 W’s & H: What happened? Who participated? When did it take place? Where did it take place? Why did this event take place? How did it happen? What did you learn?
–Using humor can also be a welcome addition to a narrative-based essay.
Your essay should:
• Address the assignment thoughtfully, analytically, and creatively
• Contain a controlling idea signaling your purpose
• Contain cohesive, focused, body paragraphs that relate back to your purpose
• Contain a logical (typically chronological) structure
• Include evidence from at least two sources from this Unit and a Works Cited page • Maintain audience awareness (entertain and inform your readers)
• Use a consistent point of view (first person) and consistent verb tenses (past)
• Be nearly free of punctuation, mechanical and spelling errors
• Be 4-5 pages typed, double-spaced and formatted in MLA style
Rough Draft is due: on Thu., Sept. 19th
Final Draft is due: on Tue., Sept. 24th
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