Robotics as a Vehicle for Multiliteracies

Robotics as a Vehicle for Multiliteracies

Marissa J. Saville (Scotch Oakburn College, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-456-7.ch418
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This chapter is a catalyst for encouraging educators to use robotics as a vehicle for multiliteracies. This chapter will provide compelling, practical evidence of the multimodal nature of robotics, highlighting the potential of robotics to encompass any or all of the linguistic, spatial, visual, audio and gestural elements of multiliteracies, as described by the New London Group (1996). The social and technological benefits for both genders arising from the integration of robotics into the curriculum, and their importance in a rapidly changing world are discussed, as is the need for educators to learn how to facilitate a learning environment that entices students to take risks and solve problems through the development of higher-order thinking skills. Robotics crosses curriculum boundaries, and engages and motivates students of all ages by making learning directed and real.
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Robotics As A Vehicle For Multiliteracies

Being literate in today’s society and in the future is more than just being able to read and write the written word. With advances in technology and the inclusion of technology in educational settings students are reading and viewing an increasingly complex and diverse range of multimodal texts. Literacy and learning in these new environments requires students to be multiliterate. (Zammit & Downes, 2002, p. 24)



Literacy and thinking skills are generally accepted as two of the core building blocks that support learning across the curriculum (Hedley, Antonacci & Rabinowitz, 1995; Stoll, Fink & Earl, 2003). To be literate in today’s technological knowledge-based society requires more than just the ability to read, write, listen and speak in English (Chua, 2004; Cope & Kalantzis, 2000). The arrival of new technologies in the educational arena in the late 1970s brought with it a myriad of issues and implications for literacy practice (Snyder, 1998). In 1994, a group of educational theorists (the ‘New London Group’) met to share and discuss their combined concerns, experiences, expertise and expectations for the future of literacy learning within national and cultural contexts (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000). They concurred that to achieve positive social outcomes for all students it was essential that literacy pedagogy capitalise on cultural and linguistic diversity. As a result of their discussions, they used the term ‘multiliteracies’ to encapsulate their vision for literacy learning which combined traditional literacy approaches with the multitude of technological tools present in the community (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000). The New London Group recognised the dynamic nature of multiliteracies, placing importance on learning to make meaning by the integration of multimodal dimensions with texts full of media, multimedia (text, graphics, video and audio), and hypermedia (multimedia linked by hypertext) (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000). With multiliteracy viewed as essential to effective global citizenship, the group considered it extremely important that educational achievements not be hampered by cultural, linguistic, or gender differences (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000). According to Giddings (1988) the development of critical thinking skills is crucial for students to respond to, and reflect on, the diversity of cultural literature. Thus it is imperative for teachers to devise learning experiences that develop thinking skills, and which are equitable, engaging, and achievable by all students (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Eggen & Kauchak, 2001; Hamston & Murdoch, 1996; Luke & Carpenter, 2003; Marsh, 2000; Murdoch & Hornsby, 1997; Perkins & Blythe, 1994; Stoll et al., 2003).

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