Developing POP! A Professional Online Presence
In today’s media-saturated world, the concept of literacy is again changing. According to Pinkard, kids in school today may not be considered literate in the future if they don’t fundamentally understand new forms of media — things like blogs, Twitter and streaming video. To be truly literate, though, you also need to be able to think critically about media, discern fact from fiction, news from opinion, trusted from untrustworthy. These issues have always been thorny, but the explosion of self-publishing has only made media literacy more vital to the preservation of our democratic society.
While a certain amount of technical skills are important, the real goal should be in cultivating digital or new media literacies that are arising around this evolving digital nerve center. These skills allow working collaboratively within social networks, pooling knowledge collectively, navigating and negotiating across diverse communities, and critically analyzing and reconciling conflicting bits of information to form a clear and comprehensive view of the world. These new media literacy skills are expanding our definitions of literacy but must be cultivated from the foundation of traditional literacy. While traditional literacy is foundational, it is no longer solely sufficient. As media scholar Henry Jenkins has said: “Traditionally we wouldn’t consider someone literate if they could read but not write. And today we shouldn’t consider someone literate if they can consume but not produce media.
Pressed for time and struggling to reach a generation raised on YouTube, Roshan, like a growing number of teachers, digitally records her lessons with a tablet computer as a virtual blackboard, then uploads them to iTunes and assigns them as homework. In class the following day, she helps students work out exercises and answer knotty questions.
Few parents are going to completely forbid their children from interacting with today’s amazing gadgetry. However, it’s essential that we focus on a conscious, rather than habitual, use of modern technology.