Effects of computers on literacy

In his article, Baron argues that the current new technology of computers is parallel to the technology of the pencil at the time when it was new and exciting.  Computers have totally changed the way that literacy happens, and they make literacy more accessible for some people and less so for others.  Do you think computers and new technology will help increase overall literacy in the world or will they just make a greater divide between “highly literate” people and people with “low” literacy skills?

Types of Literacy: Where Do We Draw the Line?

In Dr. Vee’s article, she makes the argument that computer coding is a type of literacy in and of itself, much like reading or writing literacy. In a broader sense, she defines literacy to be, ” a human facility with a symbolic and infrastructural technology—such as a textual writing system—that can be used for creative, communicative and rhetorical purposes”. By this definition, computer coding is indeed literacy. Personally, I agree with her overall literacy definition as well as her stance on coding literacy.

However, defining literacy in such a way leaves some wiggle-room and ambiguity. By that definition, modes such as music, painting, and even emojis could technically be considered forms of literacy, though each of these has intrinsic differences in complexity and structure. What do you think? At what level of complexity do we draw the line between something being literacy and it being a mere task?

Technology – Helping Hand or Hindrance?

The main focus throughout the article From Pencils to Pixels revolves around Baron’s ideas about the stages of literacy technologies and how they apply to every new product. The article began by discussing the important ways the invention of the computer changed literacy practices and how he personally has become reliant on technology; this is something I think all of us can relate to in some way or another. Baron then summarizes the stages of literacy technology. First, it trialed by a small group of people and will then expand to the general public when it relates to the older, more popular forms of communication. It is not until the technology spreads that it really will become its own. For new technology to become successful, it must be accessible, useful, and trustworthy.
Baron relates this to writing as a technology in and of itself. At first, writing was resisted because it was untrustworthy, but eventually the positive outlooks on writing were seen, and the general public caught on. This cognitive revolution and the invention of the printing press triggered a second cognitive revolution.
With all of this in mind, have you had an experience (let’s say in the past 10 years) where you have tried a new piece of technology and it improved your knowledge/literacy history? Or did this technological advancement do more hindering on your learning? If it’s hindering, do you think its because of the product itself or was it another factor? Do you think this hindrance will increase in the future with the creation of new apps and social media sites (a.k.a. new distractions)?

Other forms of literacy we may overlook?

In Professor Vee’s article, she brings up a form of literacy that many of us may not really think of off the top of our heads: coding. I know for a fact that before reading her article, I never thought of coding as a form of literacy. However, it does make sense in a way. Coding is a language and it has significance and meaning and creates things. It made me think, what other forms of literacy are out there that we may not have seen at first glance? Are there other forms out there we don’t immediately jump to? It may be hard to come up with others, but I’m interested.

For example, being able to read/write music can be a form of literacy. There is a significance to each note, including pitch and length. Being able to read it creates music, which some often refer to as a universal language. What other forms of literacy can you think of?

Rethinking Teaching

In the Hayles article for this week, there’s a discussion of the difference between deep attention and hyper attention, and the noticeable change in younger generations. Most media (video games, movies, music) seems to pull towards hyper attention, which calls for quick reflexes, but requires heavy stimulation. Studies also found feelings of freedom and achievement motivated a majority of video game players to focus for long periods of time on their games.

From the standpoint of a high school teacher, how might these gradual changes impact the classroom? Should teachers try to enforce methods of deep attention, try to combine the two, or teach in a hyper mode that most closely reflects the students’ typical environment? Given the broad needs and variable resources available for high school students, many of the higher education solutions may offer a helpful direction, but may not be directly applicable.

Also, to tie in with previous readings, how might these shifts impact standardized tests, which are notorious for being time consuming and almost completely lacking any sort of meaningful stimulation?

The Computer Struggle

The Dennis Baron article From Pencils to Pixels provides a brief history between the creation of the pencil and connects it to the creation of the computer we know today. One interesting point that I found (probably because I can relate to it) was in the beginning when he said that Braun often struggled writing and drafting notes during a conference because it was on a notepad instead of a virtual surface. He claimed that the physical effort of crossing things out and erasing seemed to almost overwhelm and restrict him. So, this made me think about how virtual surfaces help, but also hinder us on a daily basis. With the constant additions of technology in our lives, is there a point where there is simply too much technology and it is just easier to revert back to “pencil and paper?” Or do you think technology is only here to help, not hinder us?

Coding as a Literacy?

Computer programming and coding is a very up and coming field. In this age, we rely so heavily on technology and access to it, and being able to even understand what goes into creating many of the technologies we use, would go a long way. The wide use of programming could also lead to quicker growth in the market, with many more minds working towards ideas.

The only issue I can see would be access to the knowledge of coding. To be able to learn such a “literacy” would require access to a computer, something that a significant portion of people may not have. With this constraint, will coding become widely known or even into a literacy? A point that Professor Vee expresses is that there must be a shift in literacy in order to accommodate to the growing form of digital writing. However, in “From Pencils to Pixels”, Baron also speaks to the difficulty adjusting back to the basic reading and writing, after using a digital counterpart for so long. Thus, it may be hard to hone in on literacy if the method in which we practice the basics is spread too thin. Thus, do you think this shift is feasible?


Ito Article : Findings From the Digital Youth Project

This article was very interesting to me. I have long considered myself to be very tech savvy and many of the things in this article resonated with me. While I was never big into social media such as Facebook or twitter, I have had a long interest in gaming and it’s surrounding communities. The world of gaming has allowed me to build and maintain friendships with people, not only locally, but with people from around the country and even in other countries. Most of these people I have never met in real life, yet I feel close connection to them. This is an aspect that many people of an older generation do not understand and I think it is particularly interesting.

Besides forming new friendships with people from all over, my interest in gaming and other forms of social media has allowed me to maintain contact with friends from my original school district. In 7th grade I transferred from the Moon School District to the South Fayette School District. Through social media, I was able to maintain and reconnect with childhood friends that I might have not been able to in previous generations.

Being the “tech” expert in my household, I also felt a connection to the reading. In my family if there is a tech problem, I am usually the one who gets consulted. The majority of the technical knowledge that I have gained comes from my own outside research and interests beyond standard academics.  In this way I felt a connection with the “Geeking Out” connection of the article. A recent example is how i built my own pc. I did this entirely with the help of the internet and tutorials found on YouTube.

Do any of you have similar experiences to mine and would you care to elaborate? I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on how the traditional age hierarchy of knowledge has broken down with the advancement of the digital age. Something that just came to mind was how the digital age has brought about new career opportunities. This might be a long shot question but, are any of you content creators on YouTube or other websites similar that or do you know anyone that is? I know that some people have been able to make full careers out of their content creation and only now are they starting to be considered as legitimate forms of employment.

Do you think teacher may eventually be second to WWW?

During spring break I got to babysit my two younger cousins before we left for a family party. My one real job besides making sure they didn’t kill each other over toys was to get them dressed. Without Youtube I would have failed. Both their outfits were left with ties to match and I never had to tie a tie in my life before this moment. Luckily I ran to my trusty ol’computer and within the span of one video I was a tie-tying machine. In the Living and Learning with New Media:Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project the authors talk about the “self-directed learning” aspect of digital youth generation. (2) With a few click of some buttons I was able to learn a new skill and I know many people our age and younger who do the same, so do you think that physical teachers may eventually be second to the world wide web? 

Should we be Shifting the Locus of Control?

Ever since the third grade, I dreaded standardized tests. The words “No material on this page” still burn my memory. For this reason, the Addison article greatly interested me. When beginning to learn about education, specifically special education, my hatred of filling in bubbles became a cause that I cared to study and challenge. Many of the programs being advocated by our government place standardized testing at the forefront of judging a person’s intelligence. This article claims the same, but personally, offers an interesting counterargument hidden within the text.

“The SAT writing test is shown to be the second best single predictor of college success after HSGPA.”

What research has shown, is that the final cumulated score of a standardized test do not predict future academic success, but rather, independent thinking and writing to be second after one’s high school GPA. Personally, this proves that the standardization of questions in a multiple choice format lacks to provide evidence of intelligence beyond the ability to easily compare numbers. If writing and high school GPA are the best predictors of success, why do colleges look so closely at SAT or ACT scores? Are there better ways of judging someone’s intelligence? Finally, what are other methods could our government use to test on a large scale, that do not include scantrons or filling in bubbles?