Literacy is influenced by social, cultural and technological change and the information revolution has increased the modes of communication available for children, teenagers and adults alike. (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.24). As technology evolves, social and cultural practices need to adapt to this new paradigm.
To be an active and informed citizen individuals need to be multiliterate. This means a person needs to be confident in a range of literacies, across a variety of modes and able to translate those skills across all sectors of their life (Anstey & Bull, 2006, pp. 19-22). In order to have mastery with these multiple literacies, individuals need to be able to adapt their practices to suit the whichever context is available (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.20).
Anstey & Bull (2006) have summarised the skills of a multiliterate person:
As the diagram above shows, a person’s ability to be multiliterate (ML) is also multifaceted. A ML person is able to determine the context of work and then instinctively switch to the literacy that best suits that mode of communication, for example, reading an email to watching a TikTok video, to listening to an audiobook. This flexibility is essential in modern society and requires the reader, or text user, to be able to alternate between different forms of text that may present in daily life.
What does this mean for pedagogical practice?
The notion of text has evolved significantly over the past few decades. I have mentioned this shift in a previous blog post about literature in digital environments. Therefore, a shift in text types means there needs to be a shift in literacy based pedagogical practices (Anstey & Bull, 2006). Remember literacy is influenced by social, cultural and technological change (Anstey & Bull, 2006)!
Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) point out that since language and literacy exist within the ACARA’s multiliteracy framework, there is firm mandate to include multimodal texts within educational practice. Anstey & Bull (2006) concur, and believe that pedagogy to promote multiliteracy needs to address the changing nature of texts, that literature is learned in a social context and critical literacy is essential for informed action.
Within classroom practice Anstey & Bull (2006) argues the importance of balancing the variety of genres and formats for teaching and learning purposes. Whereas Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) believe that long term exploration of texts across the curriculum using text exemplars and features, as well as the explicit teaching of semiotics and critical thinking are better suited to student learning.
Anstey & Bull (2006) emphasis the fact that literacy identity is pivotal to multiliteracy (p. 36). As literate practices are linked to social and cultural development, literacy identity is the combination of experiences from both the real world and the school world (Anstey & Bull, 2006). By being aware of their own literacy identity, a person consciously understands their own abilities to decode a set of resources and their faculty for critical literacy (Anstey & Bull, 2006). Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) point out that the best results for teaching multiliteracies occur when it is taught using active learning and a student centred approach (p.220).
Critical literacy is a tenet of multiliteracy (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.37). This is based upon the fact that students are exposed to a variety of texts from all contexts of life including, education, employment, social and recreation. But not all texts hold equal authority. Accuracy and validity are not guaranteed, and students need to learn to be able to differentiate between reliable resources and false information, especially on the internet. By exposing students to a range of texts from a trusted adult like a teacher or teacher librarian, through literary learning or via book bento boxes and book trailers, they are given opportunities to develop their critical and multimodal literacy with the hope of translating those skills to life outside the classroom (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.38).
Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Teaching and learning multiliteracies: Changing times, changing literacies . Newark, Del.: International Reading Association.
Hepple, E., Sockhill, Tan, A. & Akford, J. (2014). Multiliteracies pedagogy: Creating claymations with adolescent post-beginner English language learners. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(3), 219-229. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1002/jaal.339