Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education


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Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education

In summary, the understanding of social exclusion as one of the effects of globalization, the need for implementation of strategies to prepare young people to live in a globalized society, and the importance of using ICT in socially valued ways with the intention of diminishing inequalities in the world, constitute the assumptions of global citizenship that this study set out to investigate in a developed and a developing country.

The Social Inclusion Model SIM was created as a framework to investigate the concept of a global citizen, one who uses ICT in socially valued ways for inclusion and social development. SIM provides the framework to investigate individuals on: a the extent they are aware of and concerned about world current and important issues, b how they use technology, and c how they see themselves as possessing the skills necessary to act as global citizens? The components that form the SIM were collected in a self-report web-based survey, measuring participants' Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors KAB towards global citizenship.

Differences in KAB scores, as well as quantity and purpose of access to ICT, were contrasted within the two countries and within gender.


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Students attending middle and high school were chosen to be the participants of this investigation because of their status as the ones who are being educated to build their lives in a global world. The online survey called 'Global Citizenship' was created based on the SIM's framework with the purpose of identifying participants' self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behaviors KABs with respect to global citizenship and ICT use.

Investigating these characteristics is important because the results can provide a profile of how students perceive themselves as global citizens, as well as inform further research on educational strategies and practices that need to be reinforced in order to provide more opportunities for students to be critical, skilled and participative citizens in the globalized world in which we live. Students were recruited through the teachers and administrators in their schools.

Whole classes of students from urban school systems in the U. Brazilian students indicated accessing the Internet at school more than their American counterparts. The Global Citizenship Survey was designed to measure the participants' KABs on the following traits: 1 globalization and its impact in the world; 2 citizenship rights and responsibilities in a globalized society; 3 resourceful usage of ICT; and 4 the acquisition of the new literacies needed to use ICT. Three scales one for Knowledge, one for Attitudes and one for Behaviors were developed.

Each scale comprised statements to be classified by the students according to their level of agreement in a 5-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The items in the globalization category focused on sub-topics of environmental issues, sustainable development, world politics, economy, human rights, health, war and terrorism and poverty Narayan et al. Some examples of KAB statements for the globalization category are:. The citizenship category contained items involved aspects such as respect for others, diversity, feeling of belonging, democracy vote , social justice, equity, sense of identity and multiculturalism Banks, ; Jones, Some examples of KAB statements for the citizenship category are:.

The ICT category contained items related to technology for improving quality of life, use of computers to communicate, use of the Internet, access - digital divide - and social inclusion United Nations, ; Warschauer, The Global Citizenship Survey was administered during a school class period.

Depending on the number of computers available, groups of students went to the computer lab to take the survey and were supervised by the media teacher or lab coordinator. Since the students responded the survey individually, the strategy on how to organize the students to go to the computer lab was held by the schools according to their own criteria.

The average time spent per student taking the survey was 24 minutes. The KAB scales were analyzed in order to identify different patterns on students from the two contrasting countries. Additionally, some traits that characterize a global citizen such as knowledge of a foreign language, usage of the Internet to be informed about current events in the world, communication with people from other countries and expressing opinions about things, were also analyzed.

Interesting contrasts between the countries and gender were observed. Scores were generated from students' answers to the Global Citizenship Survey , after Factor Analyses were conducted on the items of each one of the Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors scales. There were five resulting factors: two for the Knowledge scale Awareness of international issues and Knowledge of new literacies of the Internet ; one for Attitudes scale Attitude toward global citizenship ; and two for the Behavior scale Caring about others and Reading about international issues.

Each score of the five factors served as a dependent variable for multivariate analyses. The analysis conducted to identify differences between students in the two countries indicated that Brazilian and American students differ significantly in two factors: attitudes towards global citizenship and caring about others. Students in Brazil presented higher scores in attitudes towards global citizenship when compared to American students. However, when considering the caring about others factor, Americans' scores outperformed Brazilians, suggesting that students in the U.

Statistically significant gender differences were found on the factor Care About Others , which included items related to supporting social projects, volunteer work and helping people in need. The scores of awareness of international issues and attitudes towards global citizenship were also higher for girls, although not statistically significant. This finding suggests that both sexes' Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors related to being a global citizen are similar, which indicates that in the future both men and women will present equal knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding their position as global citizens in the world.

Especially for women, this finding can bring more opportunities and empowerment to become more participative in societies and, consequently, diminish existing discrimination and prejudice against them. This result strengthens the importance of girls' education and global citizenship as a vehicle for the world's welfare, which constitutes a key item in the actual agenda of governments, institutions and organizations when discussing about the future of the world, especially the developing world Save the Children, ; UNICEF, Interesting results were found about the difference in the purposes of why students in the two countries would like to learn another language.

But, in the U. Brazilian students reported higher frequencies than Americans on using the Internet to express their opinions out of school Informed by these results, we can argue that Brazilian students are more likely to present global citizenship traits by their openness to the world using communication tools effectively. An interesting finding related to online activity was that of going on websites and leaving their opinions was indicated by girls more often than boys at school 9.

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This finding reinforces previous research indicating that girls' have a tendency to use the Internet as a means of communication and therefore, emphasizing this tools' socially valued use. As a general trend more girls reported getting news from the Internet both at school and out of school compared to boys. Findings from this investigation indicate that the Social Inclusion Model provided an adequate framework to assess global citizenship characteristics in middle and high school students within a cross-cultural perspective. The assessment methodology revealed the existence of differences in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about being a global citizen by students in Brazil and in the U.

Brazilians demonstrated a higher inclination towards being global citizens when compared to Americans regarding their scores in attitudes towards global citizenship and using more the Internet for communication purposes. However, when observing another important aspect that describes a global citizenship attribute, which is caring about others, Americans scored higher than Brazilians. Differences and inequalities are issues that true global citizens are aware of and would like to see changed, and according to Noddings global citizens are tolerant and exercise solidarity. Therefore, the significant differences found in this study between girls' and boys' behavior concerning caring about others, suggests that girls showed a higher tendency and more characteristic traits of being global citizens than boys.

Additionally, girls reported visiting news websites more than boys, as well as visiting websites where they could write their opinion about things. Girls also reported more use of the Internet as a communication tool, such as using it for e-mail, IM and communication with people from other countries, than boys.

This finding combined with no significant gender differences found in the other factors of global citizenship, brings hope that in the future, females will be more empowered to have more opportunities to participate in societies and contribute more effectively for world's welfare and development.


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  5. In regards to frequency of access to the Internet, Brazilians and Americans described similar patterns. This suggests that when provided the opportunity of accessing ICT, students in Brazil are not falling behind students in the U. This fact offers a more balanced scenario for comparison among the participants to measure purpose of access, which was the main goal of this study. The results collected regarding what students use the Internet for in both countries, showed that Brazilians use it more for communication and entertainment purposes e.

    Exploring the opportunities that the Internet offers for communicating with other people is an aspect that characterizes a socially valued way of its use, and therefore can support global citizenship traits. This being said, it can be argued that Brazilians are using the Internet following global citizens' patterns in better ways than Americans, and therefore are moving towards a more included position in the globalized world.

    In this investigation students from a developing country, demonstrated more characteristics of global citizens than their counterparts in the developed country. The results from this study support that, regardless the country's situation, developed or developing, individuals can be either included or excluded from their societies and the world, if access to ICT is not socially valued. It is not just because one has access to technology that this person would automatically be included in the society.

    Access must be purposeful in order to empower people and lead them to development and inclusion. It is reasonable to argue that females would be privileged in the global economy knowledge society , which depends upon information gathering and communication UNICEF, Despite its huge growth, many are still being left out, and some of those who are not left out cannot access the same privileges as those who dwell in the upscale regions of the neighborhood.

    In talking about access I'm not telling you anything new: It is no secret that for people in many parts of the world there are no computers, much less easy access to the Web. Mark Warshauer has pointed out that the Internet is primarily dominated by users in the United States and other industrialized countries. Is it any wonder, then, that when I did a survey of my international colleagues on the Internet a few years ago, I found that most hailed from places like New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland — the same old Internet players.

    Such inequities in access are not restricted to people in developing nations around the world. In the United States, access is a similarly vexing problem. Falling Through the Net: Digital Divide, a government report that came out last summer and whose name is now a household word, documents that while minority groups are increasingly gaining access to computers and the Internet, the racial divide remains striking, with blacks and Hispanics less than half as likely as whites to explore the net from home, work, or school Bolt and Crawford ; Sanger Similar findings emerge from a survey conducted each year by the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    In its tenth and most recent user survey, it found that — as in all previous surveys — the respondents continue to be predominantly white Although younger respondents are more racially diverse than in the past according to self classifications , African-Americans account only for 1.

    And even as these statistics improve in the coming years, it should be noted that access in and of itself is not sufficient; as my colleague Bertram Bruce has argued, access is not an "unalloyed good" Bruce Sometimes it is not so much that certain groups have less access as it is that they have different access, and these different kinds of access do not show up in the statistics just presented. As Bruce has pointed out, access can also mean "social disconnections, deskilling of work.

    In American schooling what this "different" access often means is that those classified as the brighter students have access not only to computers and the Internet but also to advanced applications like Web authoring; these students are able to participate in writing and creating the World Wide Web. But those students classified and typed as "other" for whatever reason — publicly it might be stated that they are on a "lower track" or that they lack "basic skills" — find themselves restricted in their access.

    They are usually assigned to computer labs where instructional software delivers lessons to them in a manner not so different from the old drill-and-skill paper workbooks. These students are not taught more advanced computing; they do not become Web authors and "write" the Web; they are instead confined to browsing the Web — merely looking at it — accessing those materials that others have already written and prepared for them.

    Jane M. Healy, an American educational psychologist, in her book Failure to Connect, documents what we might call "second-class" computer access and argues that computers too often are used inadequately in schools. In her important study, she found schools relying on software packages with flashy graphics and simplistic recall questions rather than presenting students with challenging tasks that require creative and hard thinking about the material at hand.

    There is also the tendency for administrators and teachers to use the machines as "baby-sitters" to keep students company, instead of as opportunities for the students to engage in rewarding problem-solving activities. Access outside the school setting can also mean, of course, simply the ability to download from the Web the panoply of glitzy advertisements that many commercial sites feature to promote and sell their wares via the Internet. The irony, of course, is that as the World Wide Web becomes increasingly successful for commercial advertising, many will be able to see and surf — to view — more of the Internet but will be able to participate on it less.

    New machines such as the "i-opener," which are promoted as "household appliances" and billed as "ideal for anyone who wants Internet and e-mail access without a computer," offer "one-click access to the shopping mall. But they nonetheless will remain essentially without computing abilities. The multi- and trans-national corporations will make sure that they target this market and other large segments of the world's population for profit.

    Vast numbers will be able to browse the electronic world and make purchases, but will they be able to participate easily in the kinds of personally and educationally profitable activities of which we — the connected and educated of the world — now partake? These are the sorts of questions that trouble me. Problems with the practices of second-class access described here arise when we begin to introduce notions of literacy, for surely it is no surprise that in the next century the Web will be every bit as critical a medium for literacy activities as books, paper, pens, and pencils have been in the twentieth century.

    The World Wide Web is fast becoming a global literacy system, a technology-embedded environment in which writers distribute words and images, which are, in turn, read and responded to by those working in schools, businesses, government settings, and the public sphere. And whether we are "viewers" or "doers" in this new literacy environment on the Web makes a huge difference.

    After twelve years travelling the world to observe the local impact of information technology, Manuel Castells, a Spanish sociologist, wrote a landmark three-volume work on the Information Society. In it he argues:.

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    The multimedia world will be populated by two essentially distinct populations: the interacting and the interacted, meaning those who are able to select their multidirectional circuits of communication, and those who are provided with a restricted number of prepackaged choices. And who is what will be largely determined by class, race, gender, and country Castells , Thus when we speak of access, what Charles Moran has called the "A-Word," increasingly we need to stipulate what privileges "access" must include.

    And to my mind "access" must include not only being able to browse the Web, or even being able to write to the Web — to be a Web author — but also must mean that we and our students have an awareness that information technology not only mirrors inequitable opportunities that already exist, but also creates and sustains them. How do we go about ensuring for our students this complicated but nevertheless necessary kind of access? The first thing we need to do is to recognize that online literacies, like those of print, are far more than simple sets of skills to be transmitted or delivered to students in person or online.

    Literacies — technological or otherwise — are culturally embedded within our value-laden everyday activities.

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    Increasingly, this same kind of thinking is applied to online literacy practices: If only we could teach everyone to be "technologically literate" and give all easy access to computers, the world would rise above its poverty and ignorance. But as we have seen, such access — such technological literacy — is insufficient in and of itself. The "interacted," to use Castells' term, are merely the pawns of society to be played with and targeted as appropriate consumers for particular markets.

    We need, then, to prepare those whom we teach to be the "interacting," those who are able to benefit and profit from their online experiences. Perhaps the place to start is in thinking about how we might transform our own teaching habits and pedagogies. Jay Lemke argues that schools and universities should consider transforming their pedagogy to what he calls, not surprisingly, "the interactive learning paradigm" Lemke , The interactive learning paradigm assumes that people decide what they need to know through their participation in various activities in which their needs become apparent and, then, through consulting with those who have the knowledge that will address these needs — sometimes teachers, sometimes other students.

    It is a pedagogy that invites collaboration, asking students to participate with others in coming to know and to attain their own particular and individually tailored goals. One way in which I've tried to transform my own pedagogy involves requesting students to construct throughout the semester what I call "online portfolios. This is a beginning, of course, but note that once again it is the students who are "interacted": They are the ones who are primarily browsing and reading the material that the instructor provides for them.

    I would argue that in this model it is the instructor who does the learning; he or she is actively engaged in not only learning the selected material but also in tackling the requirements of Web authoring.

    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education – Wabash Center

    The students, on the other hand, are likely to be less engaged. We might call this approach the online "banking model" of education if we apply Paulo Freire's thinking to computing environments. In this model the instructor claims the role of primary dispenser of knowledge in a similar fashion to the face-to-face lecture mode with which most of us are very familiar. Instead, I try to shift responsibility to the students by requiring that they construct online portfolios for which they select and arrange their class writings at a Web site they've created specifically for my class.

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    Electronic literacies: language, culture, and power in online education

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    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education
    Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education

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