Engendering Multiliteracies Using Digital Games and Digital Literature: Towards a Pedagogical Framework

Engendering Multiliteracies Using Digital Games and Digital Literature: Towards a Pedagogical Framework

Nolan Bazinet (University of Sherbrooke, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2015-4.ch003

Abstract

Recent calls for critical education in regards to social and digital media argue for the importance of 21st century media and literacy skills (Butler, 2017; Storksdieck, 2016). These calls join a chorus of academics who have long been calling for the importance of multiliteracy development in education (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Lankshear & Knobel, 2011; New London Group, 1996). In searching for texts that may facilitate multiliteracy development, digital games has emerged as an option in formal education, given the complex critical thinking, learning, and literacy practices they can afford (Beavis, O'Mara, & McNeice, 2012; Gee, 2007; Squire, 2008; Steinkhueler, 2010). The chapter explores the multiliterate affordances when using digital literature and digital games at an English language college in Quebec. Results show that the implications of using digital games to engender multiliteracy development are substantive.
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Introduction

Digital technology has had an increasing presence in the lives of children and young adults over the last 20 years. The American, non-profit organization Common Sense Media claims that 89% of teens now own a cellphone while 70% use social media multiple times a day (Rideout & Robb, 2018). Similarly, Statistics Canada reports that 96% of Canadian young people use the Internet on a daily basis or own their own smartphone (Statistics Canada, 2018, p.13). Given the ubiquity of digital media in young people’s lives, recent calls for critical education in regards to social and digital media argue for the importance of 21st century media and literacy skills (Butler, 2017; Storksdieck, 2016). Their concerns join others in New Literacy Studies who have been calling for the importance of more extensive literacy development in education (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Gee & Hayes, 2011; Lankshear & Knobel, 2011; New London Group, 1996). More specifically, the authors above emphasize the importance of students being literate within multiple literacies, hence the term multiliteracy, a concept first conceived by the New London Group (hereafter NLG) in their influential article “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” (1996). Their article argued for a more sociocultural understanding of literacy that reflects the literacy practices young people are engaged in outside the classroom. Thus, the NLG argued that an emerging cultural, institutional, and global order was being confronted by a variety of forms of digital communication and media. Consequently, language as the principal mode of meaning needed to be reassessed. Hence an equal or greater emphasis on multimodality, defined as the dynamic relationship between various modes of meaning, became apparent, particularly in the media saturated age of late 20th century society.

Concerns about multiliteracy development in education are equally present in the province of Quebec, Canada. Similar apprehensions were particularly evident in the Quebec’s government Politique de la réussite educative (MEES, 2017), evident by one of their policies to “better integrate 21st century skills and digital opportunities” (p.43). Moreover, a focus on the development of critical thinking in regards to media and technology is equally emphasized within the ministry’s general objectives featured in college course curricula. These objectives demand that students need “to become aware of the role of the media and technology in culture and lifestyles” and to “develop their critical and ethical thinking” (MELS, 2009, p. 22). Yet despite the growing concern about multiliteracy development, it is not clear how teachers (especially English literature teachers) may develop multilliterate teaching.

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