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New technologies and new languages for new workplaces
Online learning is increasingly playing an integral part in distance education. The explanation for its prominence within the higher education sector is said to be in response to the emerging 'knowledge economy'. It could also be said that, knowledge is now seen as a commodity and that mass education will cater for diversity amongst the multiplicity of student groups and workplaces across Australia. The changing technological and social environment that students and teachers face require a new approach to design and development of online courses. For both the student and teacher, mastering new technologies is a fundamental skill and one which workplaces expect. The New London Group (1996, 2000) have linked this changing social and technological environment with a new pedagogy they term "multiliteracies". They state that "Literacy should imply a mode of meaning other than the purely linguistic, it needs to incorporate visual, aural, gestural, spatial and multimodal meanings". For the online arena of distance education this is particularly relevant. This paper discusses the instructional development of an online course from the perspectives of two of the authors whose development roles are separated by both division and experience. The course is about language and literacy, and has been developed in the context of developing an authentic learning environment. The paper discusses the construction of communication, technology and multiliteracy as embodied within the course framework.