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References

Citekey: @Buckingham2010-mc

Buckingham, D. (2010). Defining digital literacy. In Medienbildung in neuen Kulturr{ä}umen (pp. 59–71). Springer.

Notes

This chapter criticizes traditional emphasis on functional aspects of digital literacy and highlights four broad conceptual aspects that are generally regarded as essential components of media literacy (see Buckingham, 2003): representation, language, production, and audience. The author treats media not simply as tools but cultural forms and invite educators to recognize cultural practices related to new media.

Nevertheless, the use of the term “literacy” implies a broader form of edu- cation about media that is not restricted to mechanical skills or narrow forms of functional competence.

In the context of media education, the aim is not primarily to develop technical skills, or to promote “self-expression”, but to encourage a more systematic understanding of how the media work and hence to promote more reflective ways of using them. In this latter respect, media education directly challenges the instrumental use of media production as a transparent or neutral “teaching aid.”

Highlights

Th ese media cannot be adequately understood if we persist in regarding them simply as a matter of machines and techniques, or as “hardware” and “software.” Th e internet, computer games, digital video, mobile phones and other contemporary technologies provide new ways of me- diating and representing the world and of communicating. (p. 76)

Multiple Literacies (p. 76)

Literacy” comes to be used merely as a vague synonym for “competence,” or even “skill.” (p. 77)

The term “literacy” clearly carries a degree of social status; and to use it in connection with other, lower status forms such as television, or in relation to newer media, is thus to make an implicit claim for the latter’s validity as objects of study. (p. 77)

Nevertheless, the use of the term “literacy” implies a broader form of edu- cation about media that is not restricted to mechanical skills or narrow forms of functional competence. (p. 77)

Towards Digital Literacy (p. 78)

In contemporary usage, digital (or computer) literacy often appears to amount to a minimal set of skills that will enable the user to operate eff ectively with soft- ware tools or in performing basic information retrieval tasks. Th is is essentially a functional defi nition: it specifi es the basic skills that are required to undertake particular operations, but it does not go very far beyond this. (p. 78)

For example, the British government has attempted to defi ne and measure the ICT skills of the population alongside traditional literacy and numeracy as part of its Skills for Life survey (Williams et al., 2003). Th is survey defines these skills at two levels. Level 1 includes an understanding of common ICT terminology; the ability to use basic features of software tools such as word- processors and spreadsheets; and the ability to save data, copy and paste, man- age fi les, and standardize formats within documents. Level 2 includes the use of search engines and databases, and the ability to make more advanced use of software tools. (p. 78)

both levels are functional (p. 78)

Even so, most discussions of digital literacy remain primarily preoccupied with information—and therefore tend to neglect some of the broader cultural uses of the internet (not least by young people). (p. 79)

Of course, it needs to begin with some of the “basics. (p. 80)

But to stop there is to confi ne digital literacy to a form of instrumental or functional literacy. Th e skills that children need in relation to digital media are not confi ned to those of information retrieval. As with print, they also need to be able to evaluate and use information critically if they are to transform it into knowledge. Th is means asking questions about the sources of that information, the interests of its producers, and the ways in which it represents the world; and understanding how these technological developments are related to broader social, political and economic forces. (p. 80)

Media Literacy Goes Online (p. 80)

Th is more critical notion of literacy (p. 80)

Th ere are four broad conceptual aspects that are generally regarded as essential components of media literacy (see Buckingham, 2003). (p. 80)

Representation (p. 80)

Like all media, digital media represent the world, rather than simply refl ect it. Th ey off er particular interpretations and selections of reality, which inevi- tably embody implicit values and ideologies. (p. 80)

addressing questions about authority, reliability and bias, and it also necessarily invokes broader questions about whose voices are heard and whose viewpoints are represented and whose are not. (p. 80)

Language (p. 81)

a systematic awareness of how digital media are constructed and of the unique “rhetorics” of interactive communication: in the case of the web, for example, this would include understanding how sites are designed and structured, and the rhetorical functions of links between sites (cf. Burbules & Callister, 2000, pp. 85–90). (p. 81)

Production (p. 81)

understanding who is communicating to whom and why. (p. 81)

a “safety” aspect to this (p. 81)

Audience (p. 81)

Finally, literacy also involves an awareness of one’s own position as an audi- ence (reader or user). (p. 81)

fails to do justice to the interactivity of the internet—although substitute terms are no more satisfactor (p. 82)

Case 1: Web Literacy (p. 82)

Case 2: Game Literacy (p. 84)

Of course, there is a growing interest in using computer games in education, but here again, most proposals implicitly conceive of games as a neutral “teaching aid.” In line with Eco’s argu- ment about television, I would argue that we also need to be teaching young people about games as a cultural form—and that this is a necessary prerequisite for using games in order to teach other curriculum areas. (p. 84)

“Writing” Digital Media (p. 87)

Media literacy involves “writing” the media as well as “reading” them, and here, again, digital technology presents some important new challenges and possibilities. (p. 87)

Indeed, new media are a key aspect of the much more participatory media culture that is now emerging—in the form of blogging, social networking, game-making, small-scale video pro- duction, podcasting, social software, and so on ( Jenkins, 2006). (p. 87)

Firstly, media educ ation is generally characterized by an explicit focus on popular culture—or at least on engaging with students’ everyday experiences of digital media rather than attempting to impose an alien “artistic” or “educational” practice. (p. 88)

Secondly, there is the element of theoretical reflection—the dynamic relationship between making and critical understanding that is crucial to the development of “critical literacy.” In the context of media education, the aim is not primarily to develop technical skills, or to promote “self-expression”, but to encourage a more systematic understanding of how the media work and hence to promote more reflective ways of using them. In this latter respect, media education directly challenges the instrumental use of media production as a transparent or neutral “teaching aid.” (p. 88)

Rather than simply adding media or digital literacy to the curriculum menu or hiving off information and communication technology into a separate school subject, we need a much broader reconceptualization of what we mean by literacy in a world that is increasingly dominated by electronic media. (p. 90)

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