Big Ideas in Literacy
Reading and writing have become an increasingly complex experience, especially with the advent of digital technology. To help understand the complexity of literacy practices, consider the idea of multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner. Quite simply put, everyone has varying levels of skill in producing and consuming knowledge and information in different modes of expression. Some people have more skill in certain areas (linguistic, kinesthetic, musical, visual-spatial, etc.) than other people. But, regardless of their strengths, most people must engage in a variety of modes. In fact, recent theories of multiliteracies stress that by combining modes (linguistic, audio, gestural, etc.), we can create richer expressions of meaning and understand the meanings of texts more deeply (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000).
Multiliteracy highlights an increased capacity for producing and consuming knowledge due to digital technology (computers, mobile devices, cameras, etc.) while also acknowledging the multiple modes in which people have long created and communicated meaning. The seemingly infinite and important ability to duplicate texts and disseminate information enables enhanced consumption and production of knowledge in the digital world. The ability to reach live audiences in synchronous and asynchronous communication is another feature of the digital world, as is the ability to abstract text and combine it with unrelated text to create a whole new text. Interestingly, the digital world has increased the importance of visual literacy as well as oral and other forms communication. This is part of the understanding of the concept of multiliteracy or multiliteracies.