Sunday, 20 July 2008

Virtual worlds and literacy

When I was in Adelaide, I presented a paper on play and literacy in virtual worlds, which can be downloaded here. I have since decided that it should really have been presented as two papers, one on play in virtual worlds and one on literacy in virtual worlds, and so I have now written the former and sent it off to an early childhood journal (and if anyone is interested in a copy of that, contact me and I will send it to you). I am finishing off the virtual worlds and literacy paper now and it includes the list of literacy skills that I argue some of the worlds can foster:

• reading skills and strategies including: word recognition (e.g. the vocabulary choices in ‘safe chat’ mode; instructions; in-world environmental text), comprehension, scanning text in order to retrieve appropriate information, familiarity with how different texts are structured and organised, understanding of authors’ viewpoint, purposes and overall effect of the text on the reader;
• writing skills and strategies including: spelling, punctuation, syntax, writing using and adapting a range of forms appropriate for purpose and audience, using language for particular effect;
• writing for known and unknown audiences;
• using text to negotiate, collaborate and evaluate.

This list ties in with national assessment criteria for literacy in England. However, this is really rather a narrow set of skills and strategies to focus on, given the range of multimodal literacy practices in evidence in children's use of Club Penguin, for example. In attempts to normalise children's use of popular cultural texts in educational contexts, it is tempting to justify it with reference to established standards (and I often do!). But we need to move beyond this and challenge such narrow visions of what literacy is; schools need to be developing assessment criteria that embrace digital text production and analysis. Criteria, for example, that could be used to evaluate this text, which has to be one of my favourite Club Penguin machinima ever...


Victoria Carrington said...

Your blog is AMAZING. Love it, love it, love it.

Jackie Marsh said...

Hi Vic, that's nice to know and also it's mutual, I 'heart' your blog too! :)

Eileen said...

Hi Jackie - this is what i am really interested in -trying to understand what these "new literacies" are and how we can explain them to teachers - i've just posted my attempt at this on my bloggy thingy- using the four resources model - love to know what you think!