Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

How To Do Research on Multiliteracies 101

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 29, 2011

An important part of understanding the ways in which multiliteracies are useful is studying how people utilize them naturally and what they are inspired to do when exposed to them.  As multiliteracy is a relatively new field of study, it is a crucial time to research how multiliteracies are constructed, and to put that into dialogue with how students are taught to utilize them.  It has to do with a number of factors ranging from intuition, attraction, comfort, familiarity, goals, tasking, and inspiration; I have often wondered what a study of the efficacy of newer literacies might look like.

Surfing the web, I came across an awesome 2008 study by Mercedes Sanz Gil and María Luisa Villanueva Alfonso from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain entitled: A Critical Approach to Multiliteracy: Automates Intelligents.  The abstract reads:

In this paper we present and analyse a website with a complex rhyzomatic structure in connection with the results of a cybertask in which students were asked to read various information sources by navigating a range of websites. The results and discussion include issues such as: a) culture of learning and students’ task representation; b) possible relationships between learning styles and ways of navigating and managing information to solve a task; c) criteria students use to evaluate their navigation practices. Read the rest of this entry »


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Multiliteracy Policy Development

Posted by tricialauter on July 22, 2011

The 21st century classroom is beginning to reflect the global, digital world. Policies must follow. Policies that address multiliteracies must be developed in order to provide proper assessment and instruction. Policies within the school level, district level, and the state/national level should take into consideration the changing needs of the student population.

School Level Policies

As with any work place, an environment is established that reflects the goals and principles of its’ members. Schools must create an environment that encourages continued professional development, collaboration, and team building. Curriculum and pedagogy developed and used in the classrooms should reflect the skills students need to work and live in the global economy. Technology policies should allow integration of multiple literacies as well as provide all students the opportunity to develop specific technology and communication skills (Burbules et. al, 2006).

Distict Level Policies

In order for the school environment to support 21st century teachers and students, the district should provide access to multiple assessments, and allow input from teachers and administrators within the schools to influence district policies concerning assessment and technology. District level assessments should include formative and summative measures; acknowledging the expertise of educators. Districts should also be open to learning from other schools or professionals, especially charter schools with innovative designs (Christensen et. al, 2008).

State/National Level Policies

Policy development within the United States is influenced by many actors: political, cultural, societal. Somehow the voice of the teachers and students has been drowned out. Focus is not so much on actual understanding of learning and the context of learning, as it is about pleasing the public. As Costello and Johnson state, “The assumption behind current accountability testing is that schools as organizations, and the individuals within them, are not only unable to monitor their own performances but also are unlikely to provide the best instruction they can unless forced to do so annually through rewards and punishments,” (2006, p. 264). State and national education policy development must consider the changing landscapes of life and work in the 21st century. Standards, as the International Society of Technology in Education have outlined, should include the specific skills that are needed within these changing landscapes ( Policy should be developed with acknowledgement of the context of which students are living, creating assessments that are for learning and not of learning. State and national assessments should include both formative and summative measures, more closely resembling what students will actually encounter in their future.


Burbules, N. C., Callister, T. A., & Taaffe, C. (2006). Beyond the Digital Divide. Technology and Education: Issues in Administration, Policy, and Applications in K12 Schools Advances in Educational Administration, 8, 85-99.

Christensen, C.M., Horn M.B., & Johnson C.W. (2008). Distrupting Class: How Distruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns, McGraw Hill: New York.

Costello, P. & Johnston, P. (2006). Principles for literacy assessment. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 2. 

International Society for Technology in Education-Standards in the digital age. Retrieved from

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Multiliteracies Assessed: Examples from the Field

Posted by tricialauter on July 21, 2011

MLC School: City Experience–The City Experience is an interactive learning experiencing at a middle school in Sydney, Australia. Description of their project on their website states, “The learning that takes place is experiential, collaborative, negotiated, independent and interdependent. It challenges the notion of schooling and indeed of teaching. Students are challenged to respond to a “big question” with some guidance in the form of both written instruction and negotiated discussion. They demonstrate their individual and group learnings at a “learning celebration” held on the last day.”

The City Experience allows students to explore an area that is relevant to their lives, create a knowledge network, accessing and providing feedback to their peers and staff, and present learning through a medium that incorporates multiple literacies.

Auborn Middle School: Anywhere Learning–Students used digital tools to develop literacy, communication, and critical thinking skills. Teachers acted as facilitators, students remained motivated, and learners demonstrated 21st century skills.

21st Century Skills Assessment–A unique assessment that combines multiple choice knowledge-based questions, and authentic performance tasks to assess students’ 21st century skills. Allows for optional portfolio assessment to address skills that are not easily assessed through written portion.


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Assessing Multiliteracies

Posted by tricialauter on July 21, 2011

As the video demonstrates, the skills that are being routinely assessed through standardized tests are not commonly transferable to successful lives after graduation. The link between what and how students are learning, how they are assessed, and what they encounter within their real lives continues to weaken. But what is actually wrong with today’s assessments? What is a better way to assess the multiliterate student?

Time for a Change

Current assessments do not reflect the social and cultural needs of the students; the skills needed in the new economy and the digital world. As discussed in earlier posts, the way one learns has changed. Work, civic and private lives have changed with the compression of time and space (New London Group, 1996). Answering multiple choice questions does not demonstrate the skills to work within a diverse setting, communicate effectively, or successfully complete a group based project. “The end result is a widening gap between the knowledge and skills students are acquiring in schools and the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the increasingly global, technology-infused, 21st century workplace…We must move from primarily measuring discrete knowledge to measuring students’ ability to think critically, examine problems, gather information, and make informed, reasoned decisions while using technology,” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2007).

Assessments then, must reflect the context of learning. “Learning must form the basis of our assessment practice,” and it must “be grounded in processes that reflect current understandings of learning, literacy, and society,” (Costello, P. & Johnston, P., 2006, p. 265). For assessment to reflect the principles of multiliteracies, it must take into consideration the way a diverse student population learns, as well as the global and technological context of life. Assessments must acknowledge the multiple paths of understanding, learning, and literacy development. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skills of the Multiliterate Student

Posted by tricialauter on July 20, 2011


Learning has changed.

The way we acquire, sift through, analyze, and synthesize knowledge within a global, digital world has forced us to use a different skill set. Becoming “literate” in the 21st century is much more than learning how to navigate written text. To truly thrive witin this new learning paradigm, one must become multiliterate.  Therefore, “literacy pedagogy now must account for the burgeoning variety of text forms” (New London Group, 1996, p. 2). Multiliteracies then is the  recognition of the “multiplicity of communications channels and media, and the increasing saliency of cultural and linguistic diversity,” focusing on “the realities of increasing local diversity and global connectedness,” (New London Group, 1996, p.3).

Multiliteracies Map created by the Government of South Australia

Students must be taught a skill set that reflects this new context of learning. Not only will they need to learn letter-sound relationships but also how to freely move in between formal and informal text, analyze text and symbols, understand relation between images, layout, and text, and create meaning making from these interactions (New London Group, 1996).

Multiliteracy Skills: 

-ability to apply knowledge to new situations

-use of technologies to solve problems and communicate (Partnership for 21st Skills)

-able to examine problems and collaborate to think of creative solutions (Partnership for 21st Skills)

-able to gather information from multiple sources (and critique sources validity)

-work productively with linguistic and cultural diversity (Kalantzis et. al, 2003),

-synthesize knowledge and become teachers and communicators; express knowledge in multimodal ways (Kalantzis et. al, 2003)

-understand the various meaning making interactions of text, images, and context (New London Group, 1996)

-negotiate regional, ethnic, or class-based dialects (New London Group, 1996)

As technology plays an increasingly larger role within the new economy, skills must be developed to quickly and effectively navigate various  knowledge networks with “up-skilling” happening continuously (Kalantzis, 2003). Technology has transformed the very notion of reading and writing. Blogging, tagging, tweeting, updates, and hyperlinks have allowed consumers to become producers; linking and connecting one producer to another, one knowledge network to another. “The open nature of Web 2.0 platforms, connected by hyperlinking, lets learners pursue connections across multiple lines of thought…literacy requirements for such searches are very complex, shift rapidly, and require new skills that encompass a more worldly, public literacy,” (Alexendar, 2008, p. 156-158). As Kalantzis et. al (2003) summarizes:

Learning will increasingly be about creating a kind of person, with kinds of dispositions and orientations to the world, and not just persons who are in command of a body of knowledge. These persons will be able to navigate change and diversity, learn as they go, solve problems, collaborate, and be flexible and creative. Promoting these qualities, however, requires significant change to both assessment and curriculum regimes (p. 23).”

 Assessment must then be centered around these new literacies and new literacy skills, and the technology that magnifies them.


Alexendar, B. (2008). Web 2.0 and emergent multiliteracies. Theory into Practice, 47, p. 150-160. 

Government of South Australia. (2010).The multiliteracies map. Retrieved from

Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., & Harvey, A. (2003). Assessing multiliteracies and the new basics. Assessment in Education, 10, 1, p.15-26. 

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 1. 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st Century skills assessment: A Partnership for 21st century skills e-paper. Retrieved from

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Lessons from Atlanta Public Schools

Posted by tricialauter on July 19, 2011

A few weeks ago, widespread cheating on standardized tests among school officials and staff in Atlanta public schools was reported. The breaking story brought outrage and frustration. Overall, disappoint in the learning environments that have been taken hostage by increased high-stakes testing legislation permeated the Web 2.0 world.

As witnessed in the APS story, standardized assessments (with the negative consequences of failure) have created an atmosphere of competition that can be lethal to a child’s education. Within this atmosphere, teachers, administrators, and students are pressured to show improvement in learning discrete facts that do not reflect the multimodal, multiliterate, complex, and diverse world of which they live. Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, and Andrew Harvey (2003) describe in their article, “Assessing Multiliteracies and the New Basics,” the continued inadequecy of standardized measurements of assessments.

“Traditional assessment techniques are inadequete to measure the kind of skills and sensibilities required in the new economy…new assessment techniques means redefining what is meant by terms such as competence, ability, capacity, and intelligence (p. 24).”

Kalantzis et. al (2003) would argue that what is being assessed is far from what is needed in the lives and workplaces of today’s students. A leading organization in advocating for 21st century skills within education, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, provides guidance in what new assessments should look like.

“We must move from primarily measuring discrete knowledge to measuring students’ ability to think critically, examine problems, gather information, and make informed reasoned decisions while using technology (P21 e-paper, 2007).”

Though educational experts have called for reform within school assessment policy, change has been slow. It bears the question: Who really is in charge of reform? Though educators and administrators may understand learning better than 50 years ago, assessments have changed very little. Though educators and administrators may see the benefit of multiliteracies within the classroom, there is still pressure to “make the grade.” Not only are dishonesty and lack of integrity being witnessed by students in the APS, but students are also witnessing how learning, knowledge, and education are really valued.


Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., & Harvey, A. (2003). Assessing multiliteracies and the new basics. Assessments in Education, 10, 1, p. 15-26.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st century skills assessment: A Partnership for 21st century skills e-paper. Retrieved from:

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Skills for the 21st Century

Posted by tricialauter on July 2, 2011

Discussing multiliteracies ultimately leads to discussion of assessment and policy development. To consider what policies would be beneficial in supporting multiliteracy learning and pedagogy, essential questions must be addressed. Even before the tenants of multiliteracy are explored, the specific skills that are thought of as important in this day and age must be considered. As the New London Group (1996) supposes, “it may well be that we have to rethink what we are teaching, and in particular, what new learning needs literacy pedagogy might now address.”

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