networked literacy


I woke up this morning to find the following Tweet from Jeremy Brueck:

This line between digital literacy and networked literacy is a fine one…but one I think for ed tech people is worth exploring.

I first started thinking about the distinction between digital literacy and networked literacy after reading the Writing in the 21st Century document produced by the National Council of Teachers of English and Kathleen Yancey.

In the document Yancey states:

First, we have moved beyond a pyramid-like, sequential model of literacy development in which print literacy comes first and digital literacy comes second and networked literacy practices, if they come at all, come third and last.

Based on this reading and specifically this paragraph I created this diagram:

Model of Literacy Education Today by you.

Which Jeremy referred to in his tweet.

I wrote on this earlier when I first found the Yancey article in a post titled The Age of Composition (worth a read). Yet in that post I really did not flush out what the different between digital literacy and networked literacy were. I have shown this diagram in a few presentations and very few educators raised their hands when I asked if they were teaching digital literacy in their schools. None have ever raised their hands when I asked about network literacy.

Digital Literacy:

Wikipedia: Digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and create information using digital technology. It involves a working knowledge of current high-technology, and an understanding of how it can be used. Digitally literate people can communicate and work more efficiently, especially with those who possess the same knowledge and skills.

Microsoft: The goal of Digital Literacy
is to teach and assess basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use
computer technology in everyday life to develop new social and economic opportunities
for themselves, their families, and their communities.

By these definitions digital literacy looks at understanding technologies and their uses. It’s everything from understanding folder structures on a computer to being able to successfully use e-mail to communicate with others. Digital literacy focuses on the literacy needed to be literate with technology today. From copy & paste to understanding how to trouble shoot problems with an Internet connection.

Networked Literacy:

I couldn’t find a definition anywhere on the web of what networked literacy is or looks like, but I think it’s a literacy that we in the blogosphere talk about a lot. Networked literacy is what the web is about. It’s about understanding how people and communication networks work. It’s the understanding of how to find information and how to be found. It’s about how to read hyperlinked text articles, and understand the connections that are made when you become “friends” or “follow” someone on a network. It’s the understanding of how to stay safe and how to use the networked knowledge that is the World Wide Web. Networked Literacy is about understanding connections.

That’s my working definition at this time. Any thoughts?

Of course at some point we need to quit sub-dividing out these different types of literacies and it needs to just become what it means to be literate today. We’re not there yet and until we are I think understanding what these different literacy skills are that we need to be teaching is key.