Digital Citizens as Writers: New Literacies and New Responsibilities

Digital Citizens as Writers: New Literacies and New Responsibilities

Valerie Hill
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1718-4.ch004
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As much of life is spent in digital spaces, information literacy now includes a personal responsibility for digital citizenship. This chapter focuses on how students can best become literate, successful learners in the age of MOOCs by embracing a personal responsibility for information literacy. The need for information literacy embedded into MOOCs is imperative because literacy, particularly writing, has rapidly changed in global digital participatory culture and continues to evolve. The shift from traditional classrooms filled with primarily print materials toward mobile devices and instant access to information in real time has revolutionized literacy within a historically short time period. The idea of good writers being also good readers may still hold true in new media formats; however, the concept of the student as a “prosumer” (both consumer and producer of content) in an age of disposable social media and constant connectivity requires a new vision of writing and literacy.
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Information literacy (IL) is a personal responsibility that has become crucial for both academic success and life in networked culture. Because most individuals of all ages from toddlers to the elderly have instant access to information on mobile devices, reading and writing have taken new forms and the term literacy has many facets including digital literacy, media literacy, transliteracy and metaliteracy. Just as young people learn good manners and how to be responsible citizens in society within our physical world and communities, they also need to understand the good manners and responsibilities needed within the virtual world where much of life is now spent in virtual communities. This concept of digital citizenship is part of information literacy and the American Library Association believes, “Although we live in the “information age” and children seem “connected” from birth, research has shown that people need education in developing skills that will help them use the Internet effectively” (ALA, 2015).

This move from primarily print resources to digital environments coincides with the rise of constructivist learning in education (Yilmaz, 2008). Students now live in a connected society with multiple modes of interactivity from social media and virtual worlds to (soon to arrive) virtual reality (Lewis, 2015). These various forms of networked connectivity certainly played a part in the rise of the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC. This chapter focuses on the responsibilities of digital citizenship for writers as prosumers (both consumers and producers) of information in 21st century learning. Within that context, literacy (particularly writing) has been revolutionized by global digital participatory culture and the need for a clear definition of information literacy is important.

Learning to write has taken on new meaning as the tools for writing merge physical, virtual and augmented spaces. Certainly, opportunities to utilize communication tools have expanded; but, so too, the responsibilities for using those tools wisely have become substantial. Even the youngest learners have become prosumers in global digital participatory culture with mobile apps that allow creativity through mixed media. As new platforms for learning, such as MOOCs, expand and provide opportunities for global connectivity, the need for information literacy in multimodal formats becomes essential.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social media: Using computer-mediated tools to share information through virtual communities and networks.

Virtual World: A persistent digital environment hosted online for participants to build, create, or interact across a computer network or grid.

Mobile Device: A portable, often handheld, computer.

Transliteracy: The ability to communicate and understand across numerous formats including signs, logos, sign language, speech, reading, writing, social media and mass media.

Virtual Reality: a computer simulated environment experienced through the senses (particularly sight and sounds) in which individual’s may interact, often through special electronic equipment, such as a helmet or gloves.

Digital Citizenship: The personal responsibility for demonstrating and advocating appropriate, responsible behavior with regards to technology and the use of information.

Prosumer: A portmanteau combining producer and consumer , used to identify an individual both producing and consuming media.

Information Literacy: The ability to recognize the need for information and to identify, locate, evaluate, and use information to participate in society, communicate effectively, and solve problems.

Metaliteracy: Critically thinking about the process, concepts, production, and reception of information beyond making sense.

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