Web 3.0 Multiliteracies, Decentralized Learning, and other Bits

Posted by nicholaspelafas on August 22, 2011

Thanks for your post on Anonymous and The Contagious Continuum Natty, I think you are right to point out that it is the youth who are utilizing social media most and who also make up a lot of the force behind activist movements like Anonymous.  This shows us that their use of Multiliteracies is empowering and powerful in realms that extend from their educational experience into society at large.  I found an Anonymous related story at the NYTimes technology blog Bits (Business, Innovation, Technology, Society).

The NYTimes Bits blog ( is a great resource for educators to keep up with technology related topics.  It helps understand some of the practical new technology students are likely to encounter via the marketplace, it highlights innovations in technology and how it’s changing, and it  frames critical issues about the impact of technology on society that can seed important discussions for students.

Recently a couple posts on the blog caught my eye that I though would be pertinent to share here.  The first post I noticed was by Steve Lohr titled ‘A Call To Rethink Internet Search’, and it talked about the future of the internet search and technology being able to understand ‘natural language’.  This web 3.0-esque innovation (watch video at MIITech for example) would greatly complicate the notions of multiliteracies, because whereas now children/people are bound to a language structure that is really meant for technology alone, in the future they will be able to incorporate many of the nuances of the way they are taught to use language via traditional literacies.  This kind of dynamic means that the technology will be able to exert a greater influence on how we create meaning in everyday communication (as we restructure our language to illicit the desired meanings from the technology), but also that we will have more nuanced control over technology to conform it to our desired purposes and expressions.

What does this mean for educators? Well certainly, it means that using technology in the future will depend on the extent to which students have a good command of language.  I find it unlikely that search engines of the future will be able to interpret ebonics, be sensitive to slang or non-standardized languages, meaning that access to the technology could possibly be limited to those who best know how to express themselves in the King’s English.  Also if we wish our students to be at the forefront of pushing technology in innovative new directions, it will increasingly depend on their abilities to use language creatively.  Can you imagine technology interpreting a metaphor or a poem?  What would that look like?  How could that be useful?

The second post was by Jenna Wortham and was titled: ‘Skillshare raises $3.1 Million To Turn Everyone Into Teachers.’  This post had to do with the decentralized learning web forum Skillshare.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Skillshare allows people with skills/education/experience to set up classes on a variety of subjects and earn an income doing it.  This has a lot of implications for education, self-educating communities, and decentralized learning – and becoming part of this movement is something the more grassroots oriented of us would definitely benefit from.  For educators who have experience with multiliteracies or creative ways to use technology, this would be an awesome forum to share your insights with other teachers in your city or town so that we can begin building networks to adapt curriculum and pedagogies for the technological, mulitliterate society.


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