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Technological Literacy December 13, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Assessment.

xbox   I felt a little like an old fogy today. My copy of the York University Alumni Magazine, Alumni Matters, arrived in my e-mail box today containing an article entitled York University professor says literacy of Xbox should be part of schooling. I have to admit that it took me a while to see things from the perspective of my colleague in Canada. That suggests that either my brain is not as flexible as it once was, or she was flat-out wrong.

Her point appears to be that technology creates new literacies. That point has been championed already by people like Cynthia Selfe who has been arguing the case for emerging literacies for years. Bertram Bruce has recently been asking aloud whether the Information Age will transform literacy as we know it. Daniel Kellener has also been urging teachers to treat the new ways technology process information as a new kind of literacy that needs to be taught like reading needs to be taught.

But my colleague from Canada suggests that sometimes a book alone is too static and limits children brought up in the information age. She even suggested that a video game could be reviewed and presented in English classes. Perhaps taking something 3D, as she calls it, and turning it into a static exercise in analysis is a little like singing the praises of parsing poetry.

She almost has it right though when she suggests that kids are being assessed on their ability to think and be literate using a “one dimensional slice of paper.” I guess she meant to say two dimensional, but I get her point. Assessment technology is miles behind the curve.

She gave several suggestions for how to incorporate technology in teaching complicated concepts but almost all of the good ones dealt with simulation technology. One of the ways of using technology she described sounded a lot like Sim City, a simulation in which you create a city and deal with all the attending frustrations and problems of managing it. For younger children, there are simulations like Zoo Tycoon and Roller Coaster Tycoon. I came across a new release today for older students who are interested in astronomy in which you can create a space station and populate it with a team of astronauts.

I guess the problem with the brief interview in this alumni magazine is that you can only squeeze so much into the brief column before your words can taken out of context by readers who do not have much time to read deeply. Okay, Dr. Lotherington, I am willing to suspend my disbelief, like Coleridge wrote, and read your full report.



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