Refocusing multiliteracies for the Net Generation

Abstract

This paper questions assumptions which underlie two influential concepts associated with new directions in tertiary pedagogies. One of these concepts (the 'Net Generation') is an attempt to pin down a series of characteristics of a new generation of students arriving at universities with different skills and knowledge sets from previous generations. The other concept ('multiliteracies') attempts to design a pedagogy which equips students for the demands of a rapidly changing world. Combining these two concepts raises some important questions.

Although multiliteracies is essentially a philosophy of teaching and learning, much of the writing on multiliteracies implies that it is something that should be taught, which in turn assumes that students do not already have 'multimodal' abilities when they arrive in our university classrooms.

However, one of the central characteristics to come out of the research on the Net Generation identifies precisely that: a highly developed ability to negotiate among different modes of communication, and a fluency in image-rich environments, rather than a text-only environment. But this raises the question: do 'fluency' and speed in reading images (or text) equal the ability to evaluate those images critically? This paper explores these questions and makes some suggestions for future directions.

Authors

Henk Huijser
Learning and Teaching Support Unit, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

References

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Keywords

tertiary pedagogies; Net Generation, multiliteracies; communications technologies

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