3.3.3 An approach to teach web literacy: the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies

We have already focused on learning from the point of view of the socio-constructive paradigm, collaborative knowledge building and the role of technology as supporting these meaning making processes. What is still missing, before moving on to describe how the above is presented in our learning space, is a more coherent pedagogy of teaching literacy. In the present section we will introduce an approach, which is easily integrated into the pedagogic frame already introduced. This pedagogy is the pedagogy of Multiliteracies (The New London Group 2000), The Multiliteracies approach has already been presented in chapter 2.2.1 when we introduced it as one socio-constructive approach for understanding literacies. While the New London Group (2000:30-36) discuss the change in society resulting in new forms of literacies they also introduce a form of practice (Cope and Kalantzis 2000:239-248), through which to teach literacy.

According to the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies (The New London Group 2000:30-36, Cope and Kalantzis 2000:239-248), there are four factors that need to be included into literacy pedagogy. These are Situated Practice, Overt Instruction, Critical Framing and Transformed Practice (see Figure 10). We will first shortly describe each of these factors and then connect them with the concepts and premises introduced in the previous sections of the chapter as well as to our concept of web literacy.

Figure 10. The Pedagogy of Multiliteracies

In a learning context, Situated Practice means using available Designs of meaning, including students own lifeworld experiences, and immersion in meaningful practices in the given context. Next, the goal of Overt Instruction is conscious awareness and systematic understanding of what is being learned. It gives students a way to describe the patterns of Available Designs of meaning and the process of Designing meaning. The third step, Critical Framing, involves interpreting the social and cultural contexts of meaning. It involves students standing back from what they are studying and viewing the Design critically in its context, thinking about what the Design is for, what it does and whose interest it serves. Finally, Transformed Practice means applying the Design in a different context, or making a new Design. For example, students transfer a meaning to another context and make it work, or add something of themselves and make a reproduction.

Cope and Kalantzis's (2000) ideas on Situated practice are closely related to notions on authenticity of learning. Learning being meaningful, and the tasks coming from the students' lifeworld can be seen as similar to Lave and Wenger's (1991) notions on situated learning. Both learning tasks and materials are authentic and by participating in social practices learning becomes meaningful and motivating for the learners themselves. When the focus is on web literacy situated practice can be understood as placing the learners on the web and providing them the possibility for collaboration on the web, too.

Overt instruction, then again, can be connected with 'learning to learn' goals of learning and with building metacognitive knowledge (Tynjälä 1999, Wenden 1998, 2001). The learners' attention is directed to the aspects of the web or to their own conceptions of the web. Through shared reflections they can learn about themselves as users of the web. This way they become more aware of the aspects of the medium and of themselves as users of the medium. The scaffolding processes introduced in chapter 3.3.2 are also related to the overt instruction in the sense that the learners are supported by both the learning space and the other learners collaborating in the learning space.

Critical framing can be interpreted in the light of the socio-constructive paradigm, for the Multiliteracies view on texts (Designs) is very much a socio-constructive one. Texts are understood as relative, social and contextual. By presenting the diversity of the text world on the web and by attempts to categorise that diversity learners at the same time need to ask themselves questions such as what is the social and historical frame of this text: in which context is the text constructed.

Transformed practice can be understood as a product of Scardamalia and Bereiter's (1994, 1999) collaborative knowledge building process. As such, the goal of the learning space is that the concept of web literacy becomes more articulate, yet we do not ask the individual learners to produce representations of their own conceptions of web literacy. The idea is on building new knowledge, so we ask the learners in small groups at the end of module to contribute to the knowledge building process by producing a text that adds to the understanding of web literacy presented in the leaning space. The Redesigned is something the learners notice during the process that was missing from the description of the concept of web literacy. They can use the Available Designs at hand and produce their own Design which builds on the knowledge that has been produced in the learning space.

While it is important to realise that as such the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies is only one approach for teaching literacy it is still significant to notice its strengths as framing the learning process into phases that are easily adapted to all forms of texts and various practices in and outside classroom. Whereas Salmon's stages (see Figure 9 in ch 3.3.2) offer a strict step-by-step framework for on-line learning, Cope and Kalantzis's work seems more adaptable and flexible. Thus, as Salmon's stages are present in Netro to an extent, it is more beneficial to view Netro as following the lines of Cope and Kalantzis's (2000) Pedagogy of Multiliteracies, for many of the theoretical concepts and ideas are derived from their work. However, the theory of practice of our learning space should not be viewed as only representing this one approach for learning literacies. As we now move on to describe the learning space, the planet of Netro, in relation to all the aspects of learning discussed in the course of the present study, we hope to give the readers a fuller account of the firm premises of learning Netro is built on.

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