Notes from Kathy Yancey’s Keynote: 21st Century Literacies

Today, Kathy Yancey gave the keynote and the MCTE 2007 Fall Conference in Lansing, MI. Here are notes from the session.

Yancey began by asking us to think about what literacy is and a five minute discussion among the audience began the session.

  • An image of tectonic plates from the public domain with the idea of continental drift.
  • Themes:
    • Choice of technologies depending on rhetorical situation
    • Networked in a way that we have not been before
    • Intrapersonal Knowledge and Reflection in order to navigate this territory
  • Much of what we know today began over one hundred years ago
    • When my grandmother learned to write, she learned cursive first and that was a mark of personality
    • Learning to read was important, but writing would empower people in ways that would cause problems
    • Donald Graves didn’t know that there was writing, only handwriting
    • The testing industry was focused on scales for handwriting — testing students was a part of testing teachers
    • The form trumps the content, and this has continued throughout the 20th century
  • Now, we see literacy as an interaction of practices and technologies
    • We understand these practices better now because computers have shown us what is avaialable
    • There were also changes in literatur (Jane Austen — print to TV to film to DVD extended version)
    • We are able to understand Pride and Prejudice in completely different ways; hypertext allows us to find things easier
    • All the versions of Jane Austen are good, and we can understand her in many other ways, in print and on many screens

    The history of literacy continues to change, and more and more work is available in digital forms

    • With new literacies today, we think in “new circulations” (print, email, text, etc.)
    • Be aware of Ed08
  • While computers have come in schools, we have been using technology to mimic old literacies practices
    • Conversation embedded within a word document, between student and teacher
    • Adaptability and assumptions are a part of how we begin to work with these literacies — we do not teach them in schools.
    • This is the difference between credentials and expertise; they have the expertise in newer literacies, and I have the credentials

    Texts and technologies work in different ways

    • Social technologies succeed when they fit in with the social lives of those who engage with the technology
    • Literacy practices continue to move online
      • Adobe now allows people to mark up what used to be solidified in a PDF file by marking it with post-it style notes and other tools
    • Characters on TV are now blogging, so in addition to watching the TV show you need to stay connected that way, too
  • Partnership for 21st Century Skills
    • Core subjects with 21st century themes
    • Creativity
    • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    • Collaboration (how do we fit this into school in ways that really matter?)
  • Knowledge Frameworks
  • Ken Burns, The War
    • He went directly to those inthe war rather than relying on “experts”
    • Getting these personal experiences will become more of the norm
    • Museum of African American History Museum is starting a virtual mueseum, inspired by MySpace
  • It will not be all digital, we will also be in both/and (print/digital)
    • We will need new assessment practices to discuss what is working and what is not
    • How does the description of a traditional essay assessment compare to that of a digital portfolio?
    • Prensky’s digital natives — we are going to have to learn from one another
  • Production of knowledge as well as consumption of sources, too
    • Digital conversion class — allowing students to only find information from blogs that they could trust
      • By looking at blogs, students were relying on the association of older literacies to find credibility in a source, but in blogs that does not work all the same way
      • Because blogs are informal, that does not mean that “average joes and joann” are prodcuing stuff; they are authored by working professional
      • This is a challenge that we need to take up as we consider 21st century literacies
    • More and more information will be tailored to us and delivered in a personalized way; the incentive to discover things on your own is lessened
      • There are dangers and we need to bring this into the classroom in a critical and informed way
      • Pandora
        • Works to define language for music and selects other songs that are similar to what you are looking for
        • This is online and free, available to all our students and not just the ones who have an iPod
      • Mapping
      • Fundamental to literacies in the 21st century
        • You can see who is networked and figure out ways to help them get networked my creating maps
        • To the extent that we leave all of this outside our classrooms, we make our children more vulnerable than eve
        • We have got to start teaching some of this — evaluating information and people
    • How can we think about teaching and learning in networks?
      • Policy — what policy would we need to change at all levels so this work counts?
      • Professional Development — what can we provide so that the curriculum includes the technology in their learning?
      • Assessment — yesterday’s assessments will not support or reward the new types of learning
      • 21st century literacies are now

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