New Insights: In a very condensed manner, “Why Multiliteracies” by Christie Robertson attempts to put together some important pieces of the learning for the 21st century puzzle–the New Economy and educational systems–in order to advance the saliency of Multiliteracies Theory. Multiliteracies Theory has its roots in the shifting views of literacy and literacy learning that were proposed in the 70’s and 80’s by New Literacies scholars. In their influential book Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures, editors Cope and Kalantzis (2000) shared some seminal views of literacy as social practice that is affected by increasing classroom diversity, advances in technology, and the economy.
Basically, as Robertson recaps, the Old Economy requires designers and assembly line workers while the New Economy requires a workforce that combines new skills such as problem-solving, creativity, and technological literacy. She embeds Sir Ken Robinson’s video “Changing Education Paradigms” (link included above) in her article to underscore this old/new economy and the corollaries in education.
In a very neat and condensed manner, she shares a table that outlines the multiliteracies pedagogy in terms of Situated Practice, Overt Instruction, Critical Framing, and Transformed Practice. Under each category she provides examples from specific subjects such as math, science, and English. For example, a group of students could design a flower bed in a community garden and write a report on their design choices. This learning exercise would involve communication, collaboration, critical thinking, etc.
Also, central to multiliteracies pedagogy is engagement with visual, audio, spatial, gestural, linguistic, and multimodal domains. It’s not hard to imagine how the above project would enlist these domains.
Trends: Moving away from solely print-based classroom literacy practices to include those from the above list is a growing trend in adult education. The use of online resources of many kinds such as course websites included in face-to-face courses, Moocs, chatrooms, online research sources, etc are examples of multimodal learning tools and resources. Visual literacies are included in classrooms in the form of smart boards, collage art, etc. I have incorporated spatial literacies in the form of learning stations in classrooms and audio literacy in the form of bringing in elders who orally recount stories. Meaning-making and expression of knowledge takes many forms in many cultures, and that realization is making its way into adult learning.