Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Digital media, culture and education: using dynamic literacies #REDMIL2018

This week I am one of the keynote speakers at the Research on Digital/Media/Information Literacy (REDMIL2018) doctoral summer school at UCLouvain in Belgium. I will be doing some liveblogging, mainly focusing on the keynotes, since doctoral students do not always want their emerging ideas liveblogged. As usual, the warning that this is my impression of what people said.
John Potter (UCL Institute of Education) gave the first keynote, entitled Digital media, culture and education: using dynamic literacies and third space as frameworks. He referred to his book coauthored with Julian McDougall Digital Media, Culture and Education Theorising Third Space Literacies. He was exploring questions such as where researchers focus their attention, what interpretations, analysis etc. we use. He used a metaphor from China Mieville's novel The city and the city, in that those in different disciplines may be exploring the same subject, but "unseeing" (being unware of and not seeing) the research and interpretations from outside their discipline. This can be seen to be the situation e.g. with media lteracy and information literacy.
He moved on to discuss the meaning of a core concept, namely "literacy". He presented literacies (rather than "literacy") as now being "inherently ideological and contested", with it important to look at situated practices, and qualitatively different in the digital age. This did not mean neglecting print literacy, but it did mean exploring the different forms of literacy.
Potter saw "categorising labels" for literacy as problematic (for example digital - , Information - , cultural -, ), putting too much emphasis on the categorising label, and not enough on exploring a person's world of literacies. He felt it was important to explore both socio-cultural and semiotic aspects of literacies (see 2nd photo): so not just practices, but also underlying meanings. Potter introduced the idea of "dynamic literacies" (encompassing this framework), capturing the way in which dynamism of change needed to part of a research framework. Artefacts, practices and social arrangments change. He used the selfie stick as an example to make the point that we should not be too focused on the artefact , but also the practices and the social interactions. Potter also emphasised the important of play and playfulness as part of engaging with literacies.
He moved on to give instances of dynamic literacies, such as people making "audio" postcards, recording memories in digital ways, using virtual realities (he showed photos of a child in a classroom, but looking at a VR representation of the school roof). He also talked about "reading" images and ways in which humans have marked their physical environments.
Following on that, Potter presented a video produced by children, which he had analysed in his own thesis, and explained the complexity of what was being done in the video, in the cultural references, the skills and techniques used by the children in putting it together etc.
He finished by talking about the Playing the archive project (which also involves colleagues in the Education School at my own University) which is "exploring the nature of play by bringing together archives, spaces and technologies of play, along with people who play, both old and young". So this involves exploring how play archives may be brought alive for children now, and also involves ethnographic study of current children's play. This leads to them developing "dynamic [research] methods for dynamic literacies". For example, multiple ways may be used to capture sound and movement (drones, cameras on the children). They are noticing how channels such as YouTube, Youtubers, games etc. are incorporated into the children's lives. Potter highlighted the ethical issues, and the importance of not seeing people as data points. There was a need for dynamic and creative methodologies

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