This concept was used for the first time following a manifesto published in 1996 by the New London Group (NLG). The manifesto, published in the Harvard Educational Review, was named "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing futures social."(The New London Group, 1996). In a first approximation, the term as opposed to the classical concept of literacy, related exclusively to language and its stable system of rules. The NLG aimed to redefine the concept of literacy (The New London Group, 1996). With the publication of the manifesto, the NLG started from the accepted premise that at the beginning of the XXI century, there would be a globalized but culturally very diverse world, in which, the appearance of a new communicative order, in which new forms of communication coexist, makes the acquisition of new skills necessary. Two NLG member authors specifically worked the concept of multiliteracy: Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis. These authors define the concept of multiliteracy as "an approach to literacy centered on variations, on the use of language according to different social and cultural situations, and the intrinsic multimodality of communications, especially in the context of new media existing today.(The New London Group, 1996). The work proposed by these authors identifies two axes to which multiliteracy responds, in opposition to traditional literacy:
The multiplicity of channels and means of communication, as well as the variety of text formats.
The increase of situations of cultural and linguistic diversity in a globalized world in which cultures interrelate
The first axis raises the need for individuals to be able to access a world in which language is constantly changing and in which decoding, analysis, and criticism, as well as the production of multimodal texts, necessarily imply new competencies (The New London Group, 1996). This multimodality involves the acquisition of skills related to written, oral, visual, auditory, tactile, gestural and spatial language. The second axis raises the need to focus on specific contexts, in which cultural differences imply different visual representations, as well as different forms of interpretation, linking literacy to the cultural contexts in which individuals develop, using different meaning patterns according to the context itself. According to the authors, this second axis is posed by the need to increase the relationship, that is, global connectivity (The New London Group, 1996). The concept of multiliteracy is related to the pedagogy of multiliteracy, which can theoretically be linked to learning based on social constructivism. This relationship is based on (Darvin, 2016):
Linking knowledge to context
Active student participation in the learning process
Consideration of prior knowledge
Learning from experience
Learning based on collaboration
It can also be linked to some ideas related to literacy, especially in its aspect of emancipatory literacy, in which literacy becomes a significant construction, in the sense that it is conceived as a set of practices that can be used to both empower and disable people. Literacy is not understood only as a technical capacity that must be acquired, but as the necessary foundation of a cultural activity that tends to freedom (Darvin & Norton, 2014). Criticisms of the concept of multiliteracy focus on showing that behind the concept there is, in reality, a transforming power and, on the contrary, is limited to systematizing what should be included in the curriculum for schools, establishing labels to identify the skills that should be taught in a formal context.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the school as a social institution, as it is happening in other services and organizations of the present time, is disconcerted. International reports (such as the PISA reports, Program for International Student Assessment, which assess the quality of school systems in OECD countries) point to severe gaps in student learning in almost all school systems despite the remarkable increase in investments in education (Jewitt, 2008). On the other hand, more and more, the teaching staff shows disinterest, lack of motivation and lack of professional enthusiasm in their teaching work. The students indicate that they get bored in class and that they do not find any sense in what is studied in the schools. Families tend to ignore the educational responsibilities of their children, demanding that the state take care of them. The social communication media are institutions more powerful than the school itself in transmitting cultural values about childhood and youth (Darvin & Norton, 2014). All these are the symptoms of school bewilderment in the face of the multiple phenomena of technological, political, cultural and economic change in the global society of the 21st century.
Times are changing at an accelerated pace and educators, experts and teachers are aware that the school cannot continue to turn its back on new forms of culture, communication, dissemination, and access to the information they generate digital technologies (Mills, 2009). The expression, construction, and dissemination of knowledge is no longer exclusively conveyed through books and written documents, but also through digital networks, which implies symbolic forms of diverse nature (hypertext, multimedia, audiovisual, iconic, etc.).
Figure 1: Multimodal Literacies (Retrieved from Mills, 2010)
Some forms of multiliteracies include (Silvers, Shorey, & Crafton, 2010):
Audiovisual literacy: It is developed with the aim of training students as a subject with the capacity to analyze and produce audiovisual texts, as well as to prepare them for the critical consumption of mass media products such as film, television or advertising. The image and its different expressive forms are considered as a "language" with its elements and syntax.
Technological or digital literacy: The purpose of this literacy is to develop in the subjects the skills for the use of informatics in its different technological variants: personal computers, Internet browsing, use of software of diverse nature. It focuses on teaching how to manage hardware and software.
Information literacy: The origin of this proposal comes from library environments. It arises as a response to the complexity of access to new bibliographic sources distributed in digital databases. The aim is to develop the skills and abilities to know how to search for information according to a given purpose, locate it, select it, analyze it, and reconstruct it.
Multi-literacy arises from an analysis of the general mission of education up to that point and the conviction that the traditional concept of literacy, related to reading and writing, is no longer enough to speak of a literate person (Kalantzis & Cope, 2008). The concept of literacy is extended to a multiplicity of discourses, regarding increasingly common types of texts and forms of representation associated with information and multimedia technologies. Some examples are the visual images and their relationship with the texts, the visual design and the interface between the visual and linguistic meaning in the multimedia products. A pedagogy of multi-literacy centers on modes of representation that are much broader than linguistic ones (Leander & Boldt, 2013). They have to do with the integration of significant ways of creating meaning where the textual is related to the visual, the audio, the spatial, and the attached to the behavior. They also chose "multi" literacies for multimodality and multiculturalism as essential aspects of effective citizenship and productive work. When Canada launched the BC curriculum, the general objectives of the curriculum were:
Form responsible subjects, capable of using knowledge as a tool to understand and constructively transform their social, economic, environmental and cultural environment and to position themselves as active participants in a world in permanent change.
Develop the necessary skills for the management of new languages produced by information and communication technologies.
Recover and enhance the public school.
Reduce the digital, educational and social gaps, contributing to improve the development indicators of our country.
Construct a universal policy of digital inclusion of federal scope, incorporating technological equipment and connectivity.
Guarantee social inclusion and access for all to the best technological resources and information.
Improve teaching and learning processes through the modification of forms of work in the classroom and at school.
Approach to the interests, needs, and demands of the students.
Improve the educational quality of secondary education, encouraging the processes of institutional, pedagogical and cultural transformation necessary for the greater use of ICT in schools.
Improve the educational trajectories of students.
Promote the strengthening of teacher training for the use of ICT in the classroom.
The BC program was created to promote pedagogical innovation. It aimed at developing resources that, with comprehensive approaches, respond to the changes in education demanded by the culture and communication of the 21st century (Roswell & Walsh, 2011). As an integral pedagogical proposal, the curriculum included:
Training and pedagogical accompaniment device: awareness-raising sessions, itinerant, face-to-face, and distance workshops with teachers and families on digital education.
Accompaniment in schools: pedagogical assistance by personnel from the Operational Directorate for the Incorporation of Technologies (InTec), that is, pedagogical-digital facilitators and pedagogical advisors.
Integrate Digital platform that incorporates diversity in educational resources, through the plurality of materials and participatory knowledge.
Digital Pedagogical Help Desk. Will give immediate advice on digital education school projects.
Provision of digital infrastructure, with the delivery of a school netbook to each student and a notebook to all teachers, managers, and supervisors of public primary schools and social management of all Canadian public schools.
Some practices stimulate greater participation of students. These practices imply leaving mechanical and memory teaching aside to focus on a more challenging and complex work; use an interdisciplinary approach instead of one per area or subject and stimulate cooperative work and collaborative (Silvers, Shorey, & Crafton, 2010). The PBL incorporates these principles. Thinking about the curriculum organized by projects is a form of organization that inevitably requires working with others, with other disciplines. It involves the indispensable meeting of disciplines that converge to solve an issue, a problem that delineates the project. This cannot be thought, built if it is not within the framework of collaborative work between the teachers and the students involved. It is a possible way to break the fragmentation of the curriculum. It is not enough with the change or the inclusion of more or less updated topics and contents if an alternative type of curriculum is not considered.
PBL is not a new concept and teachers often incorporate it into their plans of class. There are several advantages of multiliteracies. The students have autonomy and decision-making capacity in the development of the projects (Mills, 2007). At the same time, these have to be planned, designed and elaborated to get the students to learn the essential contents, work the essential competencies to perform in this XXI century (such as collaboration, communication, and critical thinking) and create products and quality presentations (Darvin & Norton, 2014). The basic elements of PBL are the need to know more about something; a guiding question; voi...
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