The Importance of Multiliteracies in Digital Humanities Education
Definition of Multiliteracies: "Multiliteracies is a term coined in the mid-1990s by the New London Group  and is an approach to literacy theory and pedagogy. This approach highlights two key aspects of literacy: linguistic diversity, and multimodal forms of linguistic expression and representation. The term was coined in response to two significant changes in globalized environments: the proliferation of diverse modes of communication through new communications technologies such as the internet, multimedia, and digital media, and the existence of growing linguistic and cultural diversity due to increased transnational migration. Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new "literacy" must also be used and developed." - Wikipedia
For a rich discussion and numerous resources on multiliteracies, please see the New Learning's section on Multiliteracies: http://newlearningonline.com/multiliteracies
In her paper, “Multiliteracies in the Undergraduate Digital Humanities Curriculum,” Tanya Clement writes about the importance of project based learning in the digital humanities. She argues when students learn how to study media, they are learning how to study knowledge production, and that a curriculum infused with pedagogical concerns for DH is one where undergrads learn to think about the cultural work done by and through digital media. Like numerous other authors, she argues that thus far, there has been very little discussion about the pedagogy of digital humanities, and in the chapter, she explores the why, the how and the what of what students should learn by discussing three interconnected topics that influence the development of undergrad DH programs.
Clement argues that:
She also claims that the current education in the field is far more skills based rather than research based, and the author argues that until DH undergraduate pedagogy is considered in terms other than training, and "rather as a pursuit that enables to ask valuable and productive questions," DH will remain unrelated to and ill defined against goals of higher education.
Clement’s overarching argument is that multiliteracies are essential to undergraduate learning in the 21st century, and refers to both the NEA’s Reading at Risk report, and the writings of Bauerlein. Both argue that print culture make complex communications and insights possible, and the the current generation is in fact reading less than previously, despite the influx of information. She states that the book as the system that evolved over centuries, and maps our collective endeavors. Clement argues that these statements preclude the multiliteracies that others argue are necessary to undergraduate learning outcomes in the 21st Century.
In her paper, Clement refers to the New London Group’s “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures,” which focuses on access and availability as key factors in multiliteracies that empower students to achieve literacy learning. She argues that students’ learning modes of representation are much broader than language alone, and that literacy in the digital humanities does not necessarily refer to a concept pertaining to universal literacies.
She also refers to the nature of today’s undergraduate, and to participatory cultures, whereby students want to engage in generative practices, for example, through the use of blogs for civic engagement. She states that the nature of this shift not only incorporates a different kind of pedagogical approach, but also, underlies a fundamental shift that defines our ideas of literacies, which now must account for multiculturalism and a diversity of perspectives.
Additionally, Clement put together a brief, anecdotal study examining approaches to Digital Humanities Education, from which she makes the following suggestions:
Digital Humanities How?
The author conducted a survey that gathered information about the formation of undergraduate programs in the digital humanities. It should be noted that her findings were very anecdotal as there were only 8 respondents to the following questions:
What are the aims and objectives of your undergraduate curriculum?
What are the main learning outcomes?
Tanya Clement - Additional Resources
Biography (from Tanya Clement's blog): Tanya E. Clement is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. She has a PhD in English Literature and Language and an MFA in fiction. Her primary area of research centers on scholarly information infrastructure as it impacts academic research, research libraries, and the creation of research tools and resources in the digital humanities.
Tanya Clement - "Text Analysis, Data Mining, and Visualizations in Literary Scholarship." Literary Studies in the Digital Age.
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