I’m working on a project with the Education department of the University Musical Society to redesign, reinterpret, and otherwise make more awesome the teacher resource guides that they provide for the youth performances. (Gigantic PDFs can be had here.) We have proposed a solution that requires the migration of most of the content to a new website that is directed at the students rather than the teachers. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about learning in an online space and visual literacy. So, my three articles:
- “Visual Culture and Literacy Online: Image Galleries as Sites of Learning” by B. Stephen Carpenter II and Lauren Cifuentes. Art Education vol. 64, issue 4, July 2011.
- “New Horizons: The Sea Change Before Us” by Larry Johnson. EDUCASE Review, March/April 2006.
- “Keep Your Ear-lids Open” by Gary Ferrington. Journal of Visual Literacy, 1994.
The first is a kind of case study about how online image galleries can be used for interpreting examples of visual culture. It’s mostly a case study of a particular curated online image gallery called Seeing Culture. I think the article has some problems interpreting results and communicating those results to the reader, but it does bring up some interesting points. Particularly this one:
“By engaging in social interpretations of visual culture, viewers construct interpretations they would not derive in isolation. The forum for interpretation provides learners with a space to rethink and broaden their interpretations in relation to interpretations posted by others. In Seeing Culture students learned to recognize the power of photo manipulation to tell a profound story on one hand or to present a dishonest message on the other.” pg. 37
The second article proposes an interesting concept: the idea of a new media literacy. Of course, it was written by the CEO of the New Media Consortium. Let’s put the bias on the table, ok? Still, the article is very short and provides good, concise definitions of visual literacy, aural literacy, digital literacy, and information literacy. The author proposes that new media literacy inhabits a space of overlap between these areas.
“The NMC defines new media literacy as the set of abilities and skills required for proficiency where the aural, visual, and digital realms overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate, transform, and pervasively distribute digital media, and to easily adapt digital media to new forms.” pg. 72
Lastly, an article about aural literacy. I have to admit, even with all the talking and thinking I’ve been doing about information literacy and all of its off-shoots this year, it never occurred to me that there might be such a thing as aural literacy. Learning to hear, and not in a musical or conversational context but in the context of interpreting the world, is an interesting concept. I think that there are a lot of good points to be made about all of the kinds of literacies, but I’m a little skeptical about how adding the word “literacy” to the end of someone’s pet project supposedly lends it legitimacy. Anyway, it’s an interesting article with lots of good information that would be valuable to a teacher in the lower grades. The main problem, the author asserts, isn’t in the students’ ability to hear but in their ability to pay attention to or “attend” what they hear. Think about all of the information we gain just by listening: the speed of a passing car, the footsteps of someone approaching from behind, the difference between a firecracker and a gun shot. We assume that these skills are learned tacitly, and maybe they are, but what would happen if they were addressed in a more explicit way?