Thursday, November 4
Storming the Syllabus: 21st Century Literacies

Activity Leader: Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University

Deconstructing the "assignment" with peer-to-peer learning techniques and tactics. How can we transform traditional syllabus-making through peer-to-peer interactive learning techniques and tools? Tools: index cards, markers, butcher paper, a wiki.


Some 21st Century Literacies---What are others?
  • Attention: What are the new ways that we pay attention in a digital era? How do we need to change our concepts and practices of attention for a new era? How do we learn and practice new forms of attention in a digital age?
  • Participation: How do we encourage meaningful interaction and participation? What is its purpose on a cultural, social, or civic level?
  • Collaboration: Collaboration can simply reconfirm consensus, acting more as peer pressure than a lever to truly original thinking. HASTAC has cultivated the methodology of “collaboration by difference” to inspire meaningful ways of working together.
  • Network awareness: How we both thrive as creative individuals and understand our contribution within a network of others? How do you gain a sense of what that extended network is and what it can do?
  • Global Consciousness: How does the World Wide Web change our responsibilities in and to the world we live in?
  • Civic Responsibility: How we can be good citizens of the Internet when we are off line, working towards real goals in our communities and using the community practices of sharing, customizing, and contributing online towards responsible civic action off line?
  • Design: How is information conveyed differently, effectively, and beautifully in diverse digital forms? How do we understand and practice the elements of good design as part of our communication and interactive practices?
  • Narrative, Storytelling: How do narrative elements shape the information we wish to convey, helping it to have force in a world of competing information?
  • Procedural Literacy: What are the new tactics and strategies of interactive games, where the multimedia narrative forms changes because of our success or failure?
  • Critical consumption of information: Without a filter (editors, experts, and professionals), much information on the Internet can be inaccurate, deceptive, or inadequate. How do we learn to be critical? What are the standards of credibility?
  • Digital Divides, Digital Participation: What divisions still remain in digital culture? Who is included and who excluded? How do basic aspects of economics and culture dictate not only who participates in the digital age but how we participate?
  • Ethics: What are the new moral imperatives of our interconnected age?
  • Advocacy: How do we turn collaborative, procedural thinking on line into activism in the real world?
  • Preservation: What are the requirements for preserving the digital world we are creating? Paper lasts. Platforms change.
  • Sustainability: What are the metrics for sustainability in a world where we live on more kilowatts than ever before? How do we protect the environment in a plugged-in era?
  • Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning: Alvin Toffler has said that, in the rapidly changing world of the twenty-first century, the most important skill anyone can have is the ability to stop in one’s tracks, see what isn’t working, and then find ways to unlearn old patterns and relearn how to learn.

Live notes from event participants/leaders:

The one thing you don't see, is the one thing you can't see. Attention blindness! See the Gorilla experiment: . For everything you see, there is something you don't.
Q: What makes these new skills? Not necessarily new, but perhaps need to be reframed/reconsidered. These skills in the unique context of our now interconnected world. These are great categories for thinking about learning,
Do we need to rethink ethics for the 21st century? How do we start to thinking about new codes of ethics / how to be responsible for new tools or environments.
Unlearning: we live in a moment where questioning what we assume to be truths is increasingly key.
Procedural learning: implies process . could be applied to gaming, creating algorithms, programming.

Literacies versus profencies. Literacy=ability to interpret, i.e. interpretting visual data
Advocacy--two fold-- what if you are person that sees the proverbial gorilla (see attention experiment) and advocating for that alternative view. Requires proficiency of self-advocacy, but must also be literate in performing critical thinking/perception of bias.
Design is dead, learn to undesign. Less is more. There is room for failure in design process. Failure is an important part of the process.
If you want to transform, but are still using old methods of assessment, a prescribed method of analysis, you will fail.
Collaboration: suggest that collaboration might be new and radical idea for learning. The thing that we call collaboration may be the long tradition of cooperation, rather than true collaboration. To truly collaborate in which all people come together in equity and move forward and make progress is one of the most important literacy. Defining true collaboration: one in which no sense of hierarchy in who holds creative and progressive control over learning experience.
What do we mean by literacies?
What really has changed in the grand scheme of things? Looks to me more like we are returning to what has been cultivated as human faculties, prior to industrial rev, tribal, communicative, collaborative. You can't help but learn peer to peer. I'm not sure we are seeing anything "new", but perhaps very, very, very old, but maybe returning to a state that was suppressed by industrial rev culture.
Is this list from a Western perspective? In Spain, governmnet has tried to introduce new civic class in higher ed "education for citizens"--been a huge struggle, teachers don't want to give this class, but are promoting disobedience by not teaching it b/c it reflects different biases and because lesson is in substitute for Catholic religion lesson. Issue of different values and different resources. Has anyone mentioned that by not teaching it, they are, in fact, teaching civic engagement (teaching civil disobedience!) We have to assume there are different conceptions of the different values/literacies in different cultures.
What are the methods to make apparent that which you can not see? If you are going to teach "unlearning" how do you do that? what does that look like?
-- shifting physicality of space? --distraction techniques-- reconsidering the topics we address in class. focusing more on different ways to apply what we are learning. force students to shape what they are learning--culture shock-- doing everything backwards---instead of working towards the test, you work backwards, rather than going through history, look backwards to see how we got here--"shifting the clock" forcing people to engage in areas where they normally don't (i.e. do three things you are not the expert in, i.e. engineer in an art space, artist in coding, etc.) see what someone with different assumptions/biases/skills have to do the same task. Is that unlearning? To me unlearning means you have to believe "everything you learned in wrong." Learning--unlearning--relearning--you have to realize that everything you understood is entirely bound by your experience. So, when shifting roles you have to go outside of yourself to consider what your expertise has blinded you too.