Living in the iworld: Two literacy researchers reflect on the changing texts and literacy practices of childhood

O'Mara, Joanne; Laidlaw, Linda
December 2011
English Teaching: Practice & Critique (University of Waikato);Dec2011, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p149
Academic Journal
In this article we document observations of our own young children's usage of technology in their "out-of-school" worlds. How might these technologies and practices be changing the understandings and usage of texts and literacies of the children who enter into classroom spaces? What transformative possibilities might these home technology practices announce for teaching and learning within classroom environments? In both Canadian and Australian curriculum documents, as well as in OECD reports, the need to develop innovative approaches to educational practices and the inclusion of digital technologies is acknowledged as necessary in facing 21st century challenges. We provide examples linking to media news stories in both countries, addressing the use of touch-screen technologies in schooling and examine how these presentations are very different from the practices we have observed in our homes, where the children have relative openness and freedoms with their device usage. Within the article we demonstrate, using media links and images, the ways in which our own children have begun to navigate digital devices and texts and to create new sorts of narratives that open possibilities for literacies in multiple ways, as "creators", "designers", and experts. We argue that, once translated into classroom practice, technological tools tend to be "domesticated" by practices that resist the transformative affordances of these tools, and may even provide barriers to student engagement and practice. Finally, we conclude the article by making some practical suggestions for creating opportunities for transformative technology use in education.


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