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THE PIPELINE: Scaffolding the New Social Literacies

By Stephen Abram - Posted Mar 1, 2008
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OMG––On top of reading literacy and numeracy, civic literacy, and all the rest … now we’re hearing that schools must expand the teaching of information literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, critical literacy, health literacy, technacy (yes, it’s a word) and transliteracy (and yes, it’s also a word!). And, they must do it all across the curricula. Dozens of types of literacy are discussed on websites and Wikipedia. How can we possibly keep up with another one? Sometimes it seems that getting everyone through the three R’s is challenging enough.

So, despite the likelihood I’ll encourage some slings and arrows, in this Pipeline column I want to highlight an emerging, important, new literacy—online social literacy.

Both Facebook and MySpace restrict their social networking sites to people 14 and older. They remove people regularly for being underage and have removed tens of thousands of people for bad behavior or for being registered sex offenders. The chief security officers are serious about trying to make these sites "safe." However, for all intents and purposes they are only as safe as the user has the awareness and skills to make good judgments. Because people think that social networking sites are restricted to teens and older users, some people think that social networking literacy is a subject for teens—those in junior high and high school.

Not so.

Have you seen Webkinz ( From the website (hosted by the Ganz plush animal people), "Webkinz pets are lovable plush pets that each come with a unique Secret Code. With it, you enter Webkinz World where you care for your virtual pet, answer trivia, earn KinzCash, and play the best kids games on the net!" They are hotter with kids today than Beanie Babies were way back when.


This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.

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