Transliteracy: what is it and how can we measure it?
Hello everyone, it’s a pleasure to work with you this week. I’m writing from the heart of England, where I live in a small cottage about 15 miles from the city of Leicester. Spring is about to start here, so the first flowers are starting to appear and the days are getting longer. It’s great that the internet allows us to communicate so easily across the world and I’m very much looking forward to talking about transliteracy with you this week!
Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. To put it another way, being transliterate involves being open to difference and prioritising what unites us rather than what divides us.
From your point of view, transliteracy is especially important in terms of your learning experiences. A 2010 article said this about my research at De Montfort University:
The media's teenage stereotype is that of a girl watching Hollyoaks on television while simultaneously discussing its plot lines on the social networking site Facebook, listening to music on MySpace and texting her friend to discuss home study. Sue Thomas is exploring the impact that transliteracy is having on higher education and pedagogy. In transliterate terms, many academics are in essence illiterate, which matters if their teaching relationship with hyper-transliterate students is breaking down because of an inability to communicate fully with each other. If academics cannot show themselves to be transliterate, will they lose the respect of their students?
Meanwhile, a committee looking at the impact of the "Google generation" on HE (Higher Education) has found that 95% of students are members of an online social network and that more than 50% have a blog or website. These transliterate students arrive at university with a set of assumptions about how they will use these skills in their education, and have difficulty if such assumptions are questioned.Should tutors be expecting, even demanding, that students communicate with each other electronically? Communication tools such as Second Life, the web-based virtual world, involve creating alternative identities. Should students be expected or required to generate these for themselves? Professor Thomas believes that as transliteracy travels up the HE agenda, academics will be obliged to add new forms of communication to their portfolio of teaching methods. There is a debate to be had with applicants. The evidence is that students still want face-to-face contact, and value that. Some do not see new technology as the core of learning, even though they may spend two or three hours a day on the web. What do they expect? What do they want? What are they prepared for? A transliterate study style incorporates a range of learning modes, combining traditional face-to-face lectures, seminars and tutorials with online classes via the web and mobile media. [ from ‘Getting In Getting On! A Guide to getting into Higher Education’ by Rob Brown & Mike Chant 2010)
Do you agree with their conclusion that young people of today are transliterate?
Do you consider yourself to be transliterate?
This week I’d like to look at various different approaches to transliteracy and invite you think about how you might measure transliteracy in yourself and others.
I have some reading for you, some videos, and a task. I advise you do them in the following order but feel free to pick and mix if that suits you better.
Reading and Watching
1. First, think about the article extract above in terms of some of the references. Social media has changed since it was written in 2010. Which of the platforms listed there do you use? If you were revising it to publish now, what changes would you make?
2. Watch my Transliteracy lecture http://vimeo.com/2831405
3. Dip into the Transliteracy Research Group blog http://www.transliteracy.com
4. Librarians are very excited about transliteracy. Find out why from Bobbi Newman’s slideshow Libraries and Transliteracy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk4Cw8vrDuM
5. Bobbi’s work inspired librarian Brian Hulsey to make an amusing video about making a blueberry smoothie the transliterate way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h06FZryyQM4
6. Transliteracy also inspired one of my former students, Mary King, an English journalist living in Japan, to make this very meditative film: Transliteracy - The Spirit of Kanji http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7srRPi5R2Gw
7. This journal article sums up much of what I say in the video lecture: Transliteracy: Crossing Divides by Sue Thomas, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Mills, Simon Perril, and Kate Pullinger, First Monday, Volume 12 Number 12 - 3 December 2007 http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2060/1908
8. Check out the #transliteracy tag on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/saved-search/transliteracy
9. Tweet your thoughts and questions on transliteracy to me @suethomas using the tag #transliteracy
Imagine that you have been asked to measure the transliteracy levels of students and teachers at your school. How would you do this? Post your suggestions and we’ll discuss them. I look forward to seeing your ideas.