An Interactive and Digital Media Literacy Framework for the 21st Century

An Interactive and Digital Media Literacy Framework for the 21st Century

Wei-Ying Lim (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), David Hung (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Horn-Mun Cheah (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-120-9.ch008
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We are entering into a milieu which makes the global world look much smaller because of digital communications and technologies. More recently, there has also been a coming together of participants from the media world such as those in cinema and animation with those from the technology sectors. This partnership forms what we now know as interactive and digital media (or IDM). In this chapter, the authors aim to articulate the importance of IDM literacies in relation to the 21st century. They attempt to clarify the distinctions between ICT (information and communications technology) and IDM, and from their analysis, they propose a matrix integrating both.
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Nature Of Literacies In The 21St Century

Set against this backdrop of the 21st century world, there is now a demand for a knowledge workforce―people who are innovative, resourceful and efficient in order to increase the per capita output in order to grow the economy. Thus, a premium is given to employees who demonstrate 21st century skills such as critical thinking, risk-taking, social and collaborative skills ( To develop such employees, Jenkins (2006) stresses that learning must now occur in multi-cultural and multi-lingual contexts, and our technologies, media forms, and practices have to sustain communication among geographically dispersed and culturally distinct communities. In this new learning landscape, we can no longer afford to focus on learners as autonomous and independent agents. Rather, they need to be understood as part of a larger learning community which actively collaborates.

Literacy has traditionally been regarded as the acquisition of skills and knowledge for reading and writing. Partly influenced by social cultural theories, the notion of literacy has evolved to recognize the multiplicity of literacies, varying across time and space, as well as to view literacies as community-based social practices as opposed to universal autonomous cognitive skills (Street, 2003; Lankshear & Knobel 2007). This ontological position of literacies as practices offers an alternative perspective on understanding how people learn to read and write in a more situational sensitive way. Just as we subscribe to ideas of situated cognition, where knowledge, agency and context are tightly intertwined, we argue that literacy practices and contexts are an inseparable coupling.

Literacies, when viewed as sociocultural practices, would enable us to examine the relationships between the social cultural contexts and literacy practices. In today’s modern society, the influence of technology, particularly the pervasiveness of the Internet, has changed the way our everyday lifeworld is done. Learning within and outside of schools is no exception. The Internet has given us the unprecedented power as knowledge consumers (& producers with Web 2.0 technologies) such that the challenge is no longer in the accessibility and creation of information but the ability to discern information and information sources. In fact, the concern to instill media literacy in people has given rise to a “New Literacies Perspective” (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro & Cammack, 2004), one that rightfully addresses the complex interrelationship between literacy practices, ways of technology use and learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Realism of Context: Refers to the multi-modal ways of presenting media to bring about a sense of realism.

Heterogeneous Connectivity: Refers to the distributed and diverse ways of connecting people both in face-to-face and online settings.

New Literacies: Ways of learning that encompass the use of technology.

Interactive Digital Media: Forms of digital media including the internet and other social media network tools.

Whole-Person Development: Refers to the wholistic development of a person’s actions and behavior in situations as compared to just acquisition of specific content knowledge.

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