Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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7.1 The impact of technologies on children’s reading and writing

Children develop different kinds of reading and writing skills to make meaning from the array of multimedia and virtual worlds they now encounter. From your own experiences, you may be aware of children who use technology for a range of reading and writing – accessing, for instance, online worlds, authors’ homepages and homework revision websites.

There are six ways in which digital literacy and twenty-first century skills have influenced how children read and write (Merchant, 2013):

  1. Being multi-modal: mixing words, images, video, audio, animation and using digital and other media.
  2. Linguistic innovation: for example ‘text speak’, the use of abbreviations and acronyms, for character-limited tools such as Twitter or the use of emoticons.
  3. Remixing: the creative use of digital tools to remix, edit or recombine existing media: for example, sampling audio and adding it to existing video.
  4. Being playful: for example, creating a ‘meme’ by adding humorous or playful text to an image that is then spread via social media.
  5. Participating: sharing information and media in online environments, and getting feedback.
  6. Connecting: social relationships formed in online spaces with both known and unknown users.

Activity 8 Merchant’s six characteristics

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Now watch this video about the STEAM week at Bridgewater Primary School in England. As you watch, look for examples of Merchant’s (2013) six characteristics and note them down.

Video 5
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There are many examples of the six characteristics throughout the video, but some specific incidents have been highlighted here.

The playfulness in the children’s activities was evident throughout the video, for example in their interviews with invented characters.

Year 1’s work creating animals for their virtual world is an example of remixing, their work being inspired by the nest of strange eggs. They made prints, created digital mind-maps, took photos of their work and used these for an online puppet show and going on to create a video with audio overlay which they shared on the community blog.

The wider school community was connected via the blog and twitter feed and the use of Edmoto, an online networking tool, to ‘twin’ classes enabled the sharing of ideas further afield.

The multimodality of the work produced by Year 4, who invented people for the virtual world, was evident as they combined filming using green-screen techniques, with animated drawings and interview scripts.

The linguistic innovation was particularly apparent in Year 3’s soundscapes of the virtual world, where they invented their own method of notation so they could play their own compositions.

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