On the Beauty of Tables and Visual Aids

I may have failed to mention that I’m enrolled in this fantastic course on Literacy and Technology through the University Writing Program taught by Professor Rebekka Andersen. This course has been a largely motivating factor for starting this blog and, indeed, it has  certainly reignited my enthusiasm for promoting digital literacy and considering the implications of digital literacy on writing and reading practices across the curriculum.

I mention this course now because as I was completing a reading assignment (the first chapter of Stuart Selber‘s Multiliteracies for a Digital Age)  for next week’s class, I felt really stoked upon seeing this chart on page twenty-five.

(And yes, that’s your cue to actually click that link since, unfortunately, I cannot embed the image of the chart here.)

(Oh, and if I could, the image of the chart would absolutely go here.)

That simple chart is perhaps the best representation I can imagine for why I think developing digital literacy at the university level is so important.

Humor me for a moment? I’ll try not to make this too long.

Basically, this chart expresses for me how digital learning is NOT just about plopping a computer into a classroom and expecting students to learn the technical skills. Digital learning is also about helping students to understand what makes writing on a computer different than writing on a sheet of paper and HOW communicating on the web is different than communicating in a classroom, at a cafe, in a meeting, and in any number of other professional and social situations.

As a humanities student, I find myself primarily drawn to developing a greater understanding of the critical and rhetorical literacies that have evolved from the Web. After all, isn’t it fascinating how people’s behaviors change online? Aren’t the tools that we use to communicate on the Web so interestingly defined and distinguished from communication offline?

There’s a part of me that’s inclined to restrict my own education to those two literacies. After all, I’m no computer scientist. Why do I have to develop the functional literacy (i.e. the ability to learn technical skills, like programming and web designing)?

Well, after reading Selber, I feel even more strongly that it would be irresponsible for me to aspire to become an educator and NOT learn this functional literacy (while expecting “my future students” to do so). The times they are a-changing!

Anyway, perhaps the title of this post is misleading, considering I’m not spending too much actually discussing the joy of visual aids, BUT it’s amazing to me that this small change in the prose of Selber’s text managed to convince me of his point so effectively.

My post on Code Year, Lesson 2 should appear this weekend! Keep checking back for updates on that front.

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