New Learning and Participatory Citizenship: Creating Knowledge Communities in Educational Environments

By Sibylle Gruber and Nancy Barron.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this paper, we contend that students in all teaching environments must be encouraged to see literacy as a social practice within a participatory culture, increasing their awareness that their practices shape and are shaped by the work, school, community, or political lives they inhabit. Such exposure, we demonstrate, can be accomplished by merging academic literacies with sustainable participatory citizenship. We modify Stuart Selber’s (2004) early concept of multiliteracies for a digital age, and Gunther Kress’s (2003) discussions of multimodalities and the social construction of culture, to show that students need to be familiar with four literacy components—functional knowledge, critical theory, client-based projects, and community application—in order to merge academic literacies with practical applications of these literacies. We examine teachers’ approaches to integrating the four literacy components into their classrooms by using a situational and contextualized approach to learning, and we provide specific student excerpts from their work to show the importance of client-based work that takes into consideration not only the functional literacies expected from students but also the critical literacies necessary to ground student work and client-based projects in applicable theoretical principles.

Keywords: Critical Literacy Environments, Functional Knowledge, Critical Theory, Client-based Projects, Community Application, Participatory Learning

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.101-118. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.707MB).

Dr. Sibylle Gruber

Professor, Rhetoric and the Teaching of Writing, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA

Sibylle Gruber is a Professor in Rhetoric and the Teaching of Writing at Northern Arizona University. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy studies, rhetoric and cultures, computers and composition. Her book-length projects include Technologies and Literacies: Histories, Experiences, and Practices, Weaving a Virtual Web: Practical Approaches to New Information Technologies, Alternative Rhetorics: Challenges to the Rhetorical Tradition (with Laura Gray-Rosendale), and Social Change in Diverse Teaching Contexts: Touchy Subjects and Routine Practices (with Nancy G. Barron and Nancy Grimm). Gruber's work on cybertheories, feminist rhetorics, composition, and cultural studies can be found in various journals and edited collections.

Dr. Nancy Barron

Associate Professor, Rhetoric and the Teaching of Writing, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA

Nancy G. Barron is an Associate Professor of Literacy, Technology, and Professional Writing at Northern Arizona University where she teaches courses in the language of peace, multimedia design, the language of struggle, and professional writing. Barron’s work on her position as a non-Anglo faculty member, and her work on confronting identity issues experienced by non-mainstream students (particularly Latinos) in higher education can be found in various journals and edited collections. Her current research interests include issues of diversity in online environments, Latina identity construction in online and face-to-face educational settings, and understanding principles of peace in local, national and international settings. She is exploring venues that expose students to peaceful interactions in diverse settings and promote social action.

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