cropped-IMG_5134-1dxn0eq.jpgBlog Assignment #2 Connected learning and digital literacy.

Daniel Russell, Google research scientist, asked recently, what it is possible to know about the world. The query space is changing, he says.  We are moving into a new context. What was limited by local boundaries – the textbook, the local library, is now unlimited. The hallmark of literacy is understanding. Tools make you capable in a changing world but being literate means understanding how to follow the shift. And the world is shifting, quite dramatically.

Because it’s all readily available doesn’t mean we have to read everything that can be read or know everything that can be known. Our challenge is to use the tools and capabilities of digital literacy and connected learning to leverage that possibility, especially in education.

Mimi Ito and her colleagues at the Digital Research Hub advocate a revolution in learning, as we imagine the potential of connection – networked, powered by personal interest, driven by technological innovation and shared purpose. Connected learning presents “entirely new visions of learning better suited to the increasing complexity, connectivity, and velocity of our new knowledge society”

Making connections, knowing where the information is, helping people to interpret the world. Why is good information literacy important? It’s about knowing what you know, or what you should know.  Digital literacy is gaining that understanding in a digital environment.  Trying to “embrace the squishiness” Chase & Laufenberg (2011, p 535) suggest the fluidity of “can be” defines it – we are talking possibility. What is possible, when anything is possible? And what do we want to be able to do? Digital literacy is a difficult concept to define. Gilster, cited in Bawden (2011, p18) suggests it’s about “mastering ideas, not keystrokes” in order to separate the computer literacy concept from what makes an information literate person. The emphasis is on adapting to the more complex information environment in which we learn.

Information need is a difficult concept to pin down. Moving from an understanding of linear information behaviour to that which is more complex, we see context plays a larger role in our definition. Bawden  (2011, p 20) The more we know, the more we realize we know nothing. Think of Socrates, who couldn’t read or write. His information behavior manifested itself in dialogue and believed those who couldn’t debate, knew nothing.

“Being a Digital Native DOESN’T mean “knowing everything about technology,” but rather “never having lived in a non-digital world.” (Prensky, M. 2013) The digital immigrants do have an advantage, having wider experience in the print and digital worlds. The insights and experiences are valuable to the digital natives and educators need to be willing to adapt. Margaret Powers (2014) in a recent interview, advocates developing the connections of the geographically dispersed but like-minded people in order to allow shared exchange.  In his book, OPEN, David Price takes this a step further, suggesting going open is unavoidable. Experienced educators need to facilitate the conversion of knowledge into “socially productive wisdom” (2013, p23), as the world goes SOFT – share, open, free, trust. He suggests that as a society we’ve lost faith in many institutions but are rediscovering our trust in one another, through collaborative and connected shared purpose, using the metaphor of the commons to advocate the benefit of the common good. Sounds like a good start for learning and knowledge in a digital world.

  • Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
  • Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Digital Literacies: Embracing the Squishiness of Digital Literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535–537. doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.7.7
  • Connected principles. (2013) The Macarthur Foundation. Retrieved from <>.
  • Ito, M.  (2011 August 4). Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito on connected learning. Retrieved from <>.
  • Prensky, M (2013, Dec 29) Retrieved from
  • Price, D. (2013). OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future. Crux Publishing. Great Britain
  • Powers, M. (2014, 27 Feb) Interview Margaret Powers. Retrieved from
  • Russell, D. (2014, March 5) Retrieved from