Literacies

by Doug Belshaw

Dr. Doug Belshaw consults around digital literacies, Open Badges, and educational technology.

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Future Infrastructure, Future Skills, Future Mindsets (ALL DIGITAL Summit, October 2017)

Future Infrastructure, Future Skills, Future Mindsets (Barcelona, October 2017)

Slides: https://goo.gl/tVCvb9
Audio: https://soundcloud.com/user-973961518/future-infrastructure-skills-mindsets

(Backup: https://archive.org/details/future-infrastructure-mindsets-skillsets)

Today I’m presenting at the ALL DIGITAL Summit in Barcelona. It’s in the aftermath of the Catalan referendum on independence that was held at the weekend and, indeed, there was a general strike yesterday in protest at the way the Spanish government dealt with the whole affair.

This is by way of context to my presentation, which initially was going to feature the ‘social cooling’ effects of surveillance society - especially when it comes to so-called ‘Smart Cities’. Instead, I decided to re-focus on the technologies used by the Catalan separatists to allow the website used to co-ordinate their activities to be censorship-resistant.

From there, I go on to talk about my work on digital

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The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (WCCE, July 2017)

Dave Quinn got in touch with me to bemoan the fact that my recent presentations haven’t been recorded. As a result, I’ve pre-recorded the talk I’m giving at the World Conference on Computers in Education at Dublin Castle today.

Slides: Google / Slideshare
Audio: SoundCloud

Depending on your privacy settings, you should see the slides and audio embedded above. They’re also archived at archive.org.

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“And she turned round to me and said…”

Star Trek - turning around

I’d always assumed that my grandmother’s use of the sentence starter in this post’s title came from her time working in factories. I imagined it being reference to someone turning around on the production line to say something bitchy or snarky. It turns out, however, that the phrase actually relates to performing a volte face. In other words it’s a criticism of someone changing their opinion in a way that others find hypocritical.

This kind of social judgement plays an important normative role in our society. It’s a delicate balance: too much of it and we feel restricted by cultural norms; not enough, and we have no common touchstones, experiences, and expectations.

I raise this as I feel we’re knee-deep in developments happening around the area that can broadly considered ‘notification literacy’. There’s an element of technical understanding involved here, but on a social level it

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Fake News and Digital Literacies: some resources

Update: My very short slidedeck for this event can be found here. Thanks to Wayne Skipper for bringing to my attention this important article from earlier in the year: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine.

Free Hugs CC BY-NC-ND clement127

In a couple of weeks’ time, on Thursday, 1st June 2017, I’ll be a keynote speaker at an online Library 2.0 event, convened by Steve Hargadon. The title is Digital Literacy and Fake News and you can register for it here. An audience of around 5,000 people from all around the world is expected to hear us discuss the following:

What does “digital literacy” mean in an era shaped by the Internet, social media, and staggering quantities of information? How is it that the fulfillment of human hopes for a open knowledge society seem to have resulted in both increased skepticism of, and casualness with, information? What tools and understanding can library professionals bring to

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Can digital literacy be deconstructed into learnable units?

Earlier this week, Sally Pewhairangi got in touch to ask if I’d be willing to answer four questions about digital literacy, grouped around the above question. She’ll be collating answers from a number of people in due course but, in the spirit of working openly, I’m answering her questions here.

Deconstructed

 1. What are the biggest mistakes novices make when becoming digitally literate?

The three things I stress time and time again in my keynotes, writing, and workshops on this subject are:

  1. Digital literacies are plural
  2. Digital literacies are context-dependent
  3. Digital literacies are socially-negotiated

As such, there is no stance from which you could call someone ‘digitally literate’, because (as Allan Martin has pointed out), it is a condition, not a threshold. There is no test you could devise to say whether someone was ‘digitally literate’, except maybe at a very particular snapshot in

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Digital Literacy is about power

Today, I keynoted the Annual Learning & Teaching Conference at Queens University Belfast. My title was the same as that of my ebook, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, but it included new and updated context.

You can find my slides here, and below:

Due to time constraints, I didn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked in the presentation about the relationship between literacy, and power. I want to rectify by adding a few thoughts in this post.


Every time we say someone is ‘literate’, we’re making a value judgement, and betraying a particular way of viewing the world. As we append literacy to all kinds of domains and use it in a metaphorical sense — health literacy, financial literacy, digital literacy — this becomes ever more problematic. We privilege certain types of knowledge, skills, and behaviours, and simultaneously (perhaps without realising it)

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What would a periodic table of digital employability look like?

Today, in my Twitter stream, I saw this:

azure-periodic-table.png

It’s from this site. I can’t really comment on its real-world utility, as I don’t know Azure, and I tend to steer clear of Microsoft stuff wherever possible.

However, I did think it might be a useful metaphor for the digital employability stuff I’ve been thinking about recently.

A reminder that the real periodic table of chemical elements looks like this:

Periodic table of chemical elements -  CC BY-SA Sandbh

However, it did make me think that my work around the essential elements of digital literacies could be expanded into a ‘periodic table’ of digital employability. This would have a number of benefits:

  • It’s non-linear (unlike the metro map approach)
  • Different elements can be given various weights
  • Types of elements can be grouped together

At the time of writing, there are 118 chemical elements represented by the periodic table. Interestingly, there have been plenty of suggested ways

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What does it mean to be ‘digitally employable’?

Let’s define terms:

Employable

  1. Suitable for paid work.
  2. Able to be used.

So being employable means that someone is useful and can fill a particular role, whether as an employee or freelancer, for paid work.


Having written my doctoral thesis on digital literacy, and led Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map from inception to v1.5, one of my biggest frustrations has been how new literacies are developed. It’s all very well having a framework and a development methodology, but how on earth do you get to actually effect the change you want to see in the world?

For the past few weeks, the germ of an idea has been growing in my mind. On the one hand there are digital literacy frameworks specifying what people should be able to know, do, and think. On the other there are various approaches to employability skills. The latter is a reaction to formal education institutions being required to track

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Beyond tabs: visualising ‘trails’ on the Web

Trails

I’ve been a user of the Web for around 21 years. Although it’s difficult to remember, I’m pretty sure ‘tabbed browsing’ pre-dates my first use of the Web. I can certainly remember in Microsoft Internet Explorer having to open a new window every time I wanted to visit a different website. It was one of the reasons I liked Netscape Navigator, later moving seamlessly to Mozilla Firefox.

While there’s been all kinds of wonderful innovation on the web, there doesn’t seem to have been as much innovation in tabbed browsing. Granted, you can mute certain tabs, pin them, and close all but the one you’re on. But, fundamentally, other than Tree Style Tab and the slightly unintuitive Tab Groups, tabbed browsing doesn’t feel much different than it was 20 years ago.

In a recent blog post I came across via Medium, Patryk Adaś made me aware of a Mozilla project that is focused on “evolving the

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How to create a sustainable web presence

Sustainability

In the preface to his 2002 book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined Dave Weinberger writes:

What the Web has done to documents it is doing to just about every institution it touches. The Web isn’t primarily about replacing atoms with bits so that we can, for example, shop on line or make our supply chains more efficient. The Web isn’t even simply empowering groups, such as consumers, that have traditionally had the short end of the stick. Rather, the Web is changing our understanding of what puts things together in the first place. We live in a world that works well if the pieces are stable and have predictable effects on one another. We think of complex institutions and organizations as being like well-oiled machines that work reliably and almost serenely so long as their subordinate pieces perform their designated tasks. Then we go on the Web, and the pieces are so loosely joined that

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