New Literacies

New Literacies

New literacies takes a socio-cultural approach to understanding literacy [Houtman, E., 2013]. As literacy is inextricably linked to identity and ideology, it cannot be separated from the values and beliefs we hold as a society. New literacies speaks to the shifting landscape of literacy, which is evolving to meet the new digitalised ‘way of being’ that is our reality in an increasingly technological society. New literacy is not ‘new’ as such, or separate from previous conceptions of literacy. Rather, it builds upon the conventions of previous literary conventions so that new meanings are contested and played out in creative and interesting ways [Jenkins 2006,  as cited in Houtman, E., 2013]. Meaning can be negotiated through online collaboration in the form of social media, blogs, twitter and platforms such as wikipedia. As Laskshear and Knobel (2012) explain:

“The end game remains more or less the same, but is now played under a new kind of ‘ethos’: by affiliates collaborating with each other in a shared mission.”

The pedagogical implications of new literacies, or “multiliteracies” [Houtman, E., 2013] suggests both teachers and students are provided more diverse ways of gaining and representing meaning. Learning in and through new literacies therefore works to support inclusion in the classroom, as conventional ways of being literate, which value the ability to read fluently and write neatly, are built upon through technologies that adapt to students’ diverse needs, interests, skills and knowledge. 


Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from Accessed March 20, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from Accessed March 20, 2014

Critical text users: Greenwashing and the media

The Media Show’s episode on Greenwashing satirically analyses at the branding techniques corporations use to appear environmentally responsible to their consumers.

The puppet characters encourage the audience to be skeptical of marketing strategies used by BP, which works to invoke positive emotions and environmentally friendly connotations associated with the colour green. This is achieved by showing ‘happy babies’ and ‘BP as brightly coloured’, without providing any factual information about BP’s commitment to environmentally responsible practices.

The technique, known as “greenwashing” is an important concept for teaching kids to be critical about the information they encounter on the internet and through media content. The teaching implications are that students need to be critical consumers of information and take on the text-analyst role to consider the underlying motivations within texts. Teaching students how to analyse multimodal texts helps students develop critical literacy skills and specifically ideas around authorial intent, which are vital to being successful text users.


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