ICT and literacy
If you want to read a collection of essays which demonstrate why the kind of communication skills being taught in the literacy hour will soon be redundant, this is the book.
Sue Brindley, in her excellent chapter, which starts the collection, discusses the way in which literacy has been conceived, and asks if the time has come to redefine our notion of what it means to be literate. This involves asking how the new technology supports and extends the ability of all of us to engage with screen and text.
Although none of the essays explicitly refers to the work of Gunther Kress, his vision of a multimodal future in which children draw on one medium and blend it with another, with little sense of the divide, hangs over each entry. But, as Kress's work implies and the foreword by Stephen Heppel and introduction by Nikki Gamble spell out, it is the creative potential that such technology offers that enthuses the authors of this collection. To be ICT-literate is to create, whether with email, through a narrative on a CD-Rom game or in the development of hypertext. Such a view is supported in the first section of the book. The final section considers the professional implications of such an approach.
But the future to which these writers refer has not yet arrived in schools. Too many computers still moulder in the corner or remain the preserve of the ICT teacher. Perhaps this book will inspire teachers to let their pupils have a go.
Bethan Marshall is a lecturer in English at King's College London