New Media Literacies





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New Media Literacies

Dr Alex Tang


A "21st Century Literacy Summit" was hosted by Adobe, the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) in April 2005. This summit provides a framework for the consideration of "new media literacies" in "The New Media Literacies Project", a collaboration of the University of Chicago and MIT.

The older media are oral media, print media (1500), graphic media, and cinema (1900). Nowadays we shall have to consider the e-media and the experiential media.

Kristina Woolsey presented a paper New media Literacies: A Language Revolution in which she postulates that it is a language revolution.

She writes,

Digital technologies have created a new environment for human thinking, learning and communication. Many think of this as a media revolution. Me, I think of it as a language revolution. I think that digital technologies have fundamentally changed the nature of the tools available to the human species for thinking and human expression. I believe that they have extended traditional media as we have known them, to create new e-media, and that they have created a new class of immersive experiential media to add to those that we have known in the past. More critically, I think that the context for the interactions and exchange of these media have been altered drastically by digital technologies, creating a very new digital “soup” in which we humans are now exchanging and developing our ideas.


She concludes by stating that to prepare students for the e-media age, they need to

• engaging critical judgement in assessing the wealth of available information,

• using imagery in communications,

• engaging collaborative groups in solving problems,

• assessing information gathered from multiple sources,

• expressing ideas in a range of media,

• choosing media appropriate to tasks,

• thinking in multimodal terms, and

• participating actively in collective intelligence communities.


Susan Marcus, in response to Woolsey's paper presented The New Literacies: What is Basic Education Now?

Susan notes

The definition of what the new literacies are all about, what “they” should contain, or how or where to teach “them”, or measure “them” is still under construction. The general agreement from the 21st Century Literacy Summit Report is that while the underlying concepts are “informed by work in media literacy, semiotics, iconography, visual cognition, the arts, and other well-established fields, they emerged so recently that there is not a body of literature or theory in place yet that can provide adequate definitions, taxonomies, or ontologies.” ...the new “language” of imagery (and sound) is another very basic symbol system to learn, utilize, and invent with. And that it is the oldest symbol system of our species, coming long before the other symbol systems of words and numbers that have taken the cherished literacy spotlight today. I will also try to “connect the dots” a bit differently and show how creativity (a higher-order thinking skill) and individuality are central to new literacy thinking and also deserve to be moved up the ladder of priorities of what occupies our children’s time in preparation for their (and our) future.

Personally I find it exciting to be at the cutting age of a new revolution in our thinking, writing, and communicating.


|posted 20 April 2007|


"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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