Rethinking the Literacy Experience: COD Pilot

Henry Jenkins nails it with this quote from his forthcoming book New Literacies in an Age of Participatory Culture:

The literature teacher, thus, has an obligation to help young people think more deeply about what it means to be a reader and an author in a world where more and more of us can create and circulate what we create with others. To do this, though, we need to negotiate a new stance toward both print and digital culture, embracing new opportunities, even as we preserve older practices, texts, and values (Jenkins).

More importantly, he puts forth a challenge that I feel is important for schools and departments focused on literacy

What if young people were asked to identify their own goals for reading a text, to take responsibility for shaping what they learned from each other, and to translate their engagement with the text into a springboard for other creative, critical, and expressive activities? These questions require teachers to embrace a much more collaborative atmosphere in their classrooms, allowing students to develop and assert distinctive expertise as they pool their knowledge to work through complex problems together (Jenkins).

In other words, the focus needs to be on students as agents and authors of their own learning in diverse, real-world contexts focused on using content for doing, being, and experiencing.

With Internet-accessible devices, this becomes an even greater reality. As I’ve seen during the early phase of our COD pilot, devices in the hands of empowered students with open-minded teachers change a the dynamics and structure of the learning environment.

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