Monday, April 22, 2013

Literacies for Open Learners

Open learning takes place on the world wide web. So in order to develop the following list of necessary or desirable literacies for online learners, I have gone back to basics. Open learners will never be effective learners until the basics of existence in the online
environment become second nature. Each literacy suggested here consists of a set of sub-skills, each of which forms a necessary component of the larger literacy.
  • Basics of cloud computing: server/client network concept, using secure passwords, keeping track of passwords, backing up server hosted data, keeping track of downloaded materials
  • Effective browser use: especially opening new material in a new tab, bookmarking, use of browser plug-ins
  • Effective search engine use: predictive searching, boolean searching, search filters, chain or radiative searching, criteria for critical analysis (discernment)
  • Online notetaking: Google Drive/Docs, Diigo, Pearltrees, Dig, Evernote, etc.
  • Understanding online environments: recognizing navigation bars, using the cursor to find hyperlinks on the page, exploratory strategies, understanding redundancy, you can't break it! - learn by touching
  • Visual communication: image/film/sound interpretation, image/film/sound re-use & re-mixing, embedding media, using online media/communication tools
  • Comfort with social networking tools: blogs, Twitter, forums, social media sites
  • Collaborative skills: contributing, sharing, constructive criticism, courtesy, negotiation, summarizing, editing
  • Ability to filter & focus: scanning abundance, selecting & prioritizing critical items, blocking chaotic noise to focus on one task at a time
This list has been devised to include only those literacies that are directly related to the open aspect of open learning. Some, of course, are useful with other forms of learning as well. A couple of aspects of this list were added after reading the list offered by Jenkins et al. (2009), but those usually fit as a sub-skill under one of my more general literacy categories.

Developing these literacies for open learners would best be accomplished by offering a cMOOC (or perhaps several cMOOCs) that allowed exploring and mastering each of these areas in turn.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. and Weigel, M. (2009) Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, Chicago, IL, The MacArthur Foundation. Also available online at (Accessed 22-April-2013).

[This posting is for Activity 24 (Week 6) of the OpenU course on Open Education H817open. The text and illustration are released under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The earth photo is in the public domain.]