The Efficacy of Working E-Portfolios to Assess Emergent and Digital Literacies Congruently in Social Contexts

The Efficacy of Working E-Portfolios to Assess Emergent and Digital Literacies Congruently in Social Contexts

Nicole Masek (Crème de la Crème, Greenwood Village, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJDLDC.2018040101
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Early childhood education instruction and assessment practices for emergent literacy were established in an era that prioritized standardization of knowledge based on age and stage of development. The evolution of 2.0 technologies has shifted culture within developed societies to prioritize digital literacy that is synonymous to political, social and economic capital. This article asserts two positions: the first is to shift the pedagogy of early childhood toward cultivating both emergent and digital literacies using traditional strategies in conjunction with technology. The second position is the efficacy of working e-portfolios to develop and assess multi-literacy. Fundamental attributes of working e-portfolios are outlined and applied to goals for multi-literacy in democratic early childhood classrooms. The three-pronged theoretical framework is the learner-centered approach espoused with Vygotsky's social-constructivism, and Marie Clay's theory of emergent literacy development in social contexts.
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At the root of every culture is a language that binds them. Literacy is a command of the language that signifies citizenship within a specific culture (Clay, 1991). Information and communication technology (ICT) is inherently woven into the fabric of modern day societies, has its own language, and an advantaged citizenry that the existing early childhood education (ECE) pedagogy does not reflect in literacy instruction (Cope & Kalantis, 2000). This paper presents two positions that support the cultivation of young children into this elite citizenry:

  • 1.

    Learner-centered, socially-constructed approaches to teaching in home and school contexts are the optimal method to developing emergent and digital literacies (multi-literacies), congruently.

  • 2.

    The working e-portfolio is an ideal multi-literacy assessment tool in a democratic early learning environment.


Theoretical Framework

The social-constructivist theory in conjunction with the learner-centered approach are recognized in ECE as instrumental in developing emergent literacy, using traditional methods (Dixon-Krauss, 1996; Gee, 2002; Vygotsky, 1978). What have not been formally implemented in ECE curricula are the pragmatic applications of this approach using ICT to support digital literacy (Yelland, 2011). Concerned that new technological advances are not supported in theory or practiced over time, many educators believe innovation to be a threat to previously successful systems. Teachers are essentially missing the boat on the efficacy of technology to assist their instruction and assessment (Parette, Quesenburry & Blum, 2010). The pull of traditional instruction with the push of new technologies has created a chasm in ECE that has not been universally resolved. Simply adding technology to curricula is a superficial recognition of ICT’s relevance within the digital culture and undermines its full potential to enhance learning (Labbo, 2006; Masek, 2016b). Instead, an actual shift in ECE pedagogy that incorporates ICT must take place, manifested by teachers who develop a new perspective of its value based on pedagogical soundness of the platforms they use for various learning goals and objectives (Hemmeter, Maxwell, Ault & Schuster, 2001; Yelland, 2007).

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