Investigating digital curricular literacies: Resolving dilemmas of researching multimodal technologically mediated literacy practices
Three propositions introduce this paper: first, that the literate capabilities of students as they graduate or simply leave school are increasingly important to the cultural, social, and economic development of contemporary information-economy nations; second, that the world today is a complex communication environment, reflecting the rapidly changing, cross-modal demands of activities in a wide range of sites, including those related to work, leisure, and the home; and third, despite the importance attributed to literacy, in general, and to integrating information communication technologies into curriculum, in particular, there is a paucity of research that brings together literacy, curriculum, and information communication technologies. These three foci have been central to our work with a longitudinal study (2003-2007), funded by the Australian Research Council (with Wyatt-Smith as Chief Investigator and Castleton as Partner Investigator), that has concentrated on what we call students' digital curricular literacies (DCL). This term draws together the concept of curricular literacies that highlights the discipline-specific literacy demands of different curriculum areas (Wyatt-Smith & Cumming, 2003) with new ways of being literate, that is comprehending, interacting with, and constructing meaningful hypermedia and multimedia texts in dynamic, non-linear, digital environments. The ongoing longitudinal study is an investigation of the products and processes associated with how and how well students engage with existing knowledge and create new knowledge in online environments. In this paper, following a brief overview of the goals of the longitudinal study, we explore some of the interesting conceptual and methodological issues we have encountered in capturing multimodal data, including the talk students engage in as they work online. Of special interest to the project and to this paper is how the acts of investigating "the new literacies" (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004) of the classroom call for new research literacies where information communication technologies afford research insights not otherwise available.
54th Year Book of the National Reading Conference