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Literacy education and the new technologies : hypermedia or media hype?
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Christopher Bigum, B Green
In the mid-1990s, we asked a question that has likely been asked in one way or another by educators each time that a new communication technology has been developed: 'What are the implications of this new technology for literacy education?' Since then, the question has clearly become more important as the new computing and communication technologies have been deployed more and more widely, becoming integral to an increasing number of human activities. But, equally, the question has become more difficult as the proliferation of new practices which involve digital media of one sort or other continues, accompanied by an ever-increasing literature, online! and in print, grappling with the issue. The current 'hype', and the clamour from technological utopianists-whether from industry or from academia-continues to grow louder and more insistent. What has been called the 'rhetoric of the technological sublime' (Carey, 1989) is clearly in a new phase of its ascendancy and educators, among others, are steadily being drawn into its vortex. 'Technologising' literacy, as we argued elsewhere (Bigum and Green, 1993; Lankshear and Snyder with Green, 2000), is particularly problematic, especially when cultural and political considerations are not properly accounted for. The relationship between the new technologies and literacy education has, therefore, become a matter of considerable interest for policy makers, practitioners and scholars, and is now a key issue for literacy educators (Lankshear and Bigum, 1999; Durrant and Beavis, 2001). In this chapter we present an overview of the changing nature of literacy, with specific reference to the new computing and communication technologies and their associated cultural fields, and outline some implications and challenges for practice, pedagogy and research. While our focus will be more squarely on hypertext and hypermedia later in the chapter, we want first to provide an overview of computer-based ('digital') technologies more generally as they impact on literacy education. Our ultimate frame of reference here is the notion of postrnodern literacy pedagogy.