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This week I decided to further explore the work of Leu and Coiro.  As their work appears foundational to research in New Literacies, I thought it a good idea to explore a theory they suggest for designing research in this area.

Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., Castek, J., & Henry, L. A. (2017). New Literacies: A Dual-Level Theory of the Changing Nature of Literacy, Instruction, and Assessment. Journal of Education, 197(2), 1–18.

In this article, the authors propose a distinction between ‘lower case’ and ‘upper case’ areas of focus in new literacies research. Lower case (new literacies) research is specialized, focused on distinct sub-areas of the field and informed by the differing lenses of various researchers.  This stems from the fact that the current state of research in the field is an amalgam of numerous theories and perspectives.  However, the argument is one of inclusiveness – that future research should include collaboration between these perspectives.  Upper case (New Literacies) are those principles derived from the research of these varied (lower-case) investigations.  This macro view can be informed by the community of researchers in the same way open-source software is collaboratively created.  The article adds detail to this dual-level theory, by suggesting several archetypical findings among various studies as well as discussing challenges and suggestions for further research.

Strong points of this article include a well-informed discussion of the body of research in New Literacies.  This is enabled by authors who have worked to build the field over time and benefits from that collective expertise. Another feature of note is the fascinating discussion of new literacies in social contexts and workplace settings contained in the introduction.  This establishes the relevance of the field to researchers of varied disciplines as it discusses the social impacts of the changing literacies we are currently experiencing, how they will continually and dynamically affect our lives into the future.

New Literacies is a new field of exploration for me.  I am interested in it for several reasons.  First, it seems this may be a new way to approach questions about active learning, as more learning environments in general move online.  Second, the multi-modal approach is appealing to me, as my background in multimedia has utilized differing modalities.  This approach appears to include multimedia in its varied forms but also other forms of communication and digital fluency.  Third, I find new media fascinating and am interested in how these media and our literacy with them can symbiotically change and reflect shifts in society.  Forth, as I work in faculty development, I’m interested in exploring how these literacies influence professional development, especially in terms of technology integration.