Adobe’s Exciting Journey

“And now, we’re pleased to announce that beginning May 15, 2018, the full suite of Adobe Creative Cloud apps will be available to K-12 schools via their authorized Adobe reseller for $4.99 per user license, per year, with a minimum purchase quantity of 500 licenses for a single school, or 2,500 licenses for a school district.”

“We are on an exciting journey, collaborating with educators to empower the next generation to be lifelong creators.”

So, Adobe is giving their Creative Cloud Suite to K-12 schools for next to nothing.

I’ve already started teaching my 10-year old Adobe Audition and Photoshop. She picks it up easily, and I honestly think that these are the sorts of skills that kids can learn easily if you just help them along with some fun projects.

That being said, I also try to maintain a balance. I keep her time limited in front of the screen and in using these programs. I’m not worried about her “keeping up to date with 21st century skills” or stuff like that, mainly because there’s so much non-digital things that she can use her time to experience now while she’s a kid, before her life gets taken over by virtual environments as she gets older.

This is nice news from Adobe. I would be a bit worried that this is one company, getting kids culturalized to one type of literacy, but that worry might be taking it too far (despite the red flag that comes up from that “exciting journey” sentence). My bigger worry is that introducing digital too much too early will detach future generations from our physical world and physical space.

There’s nothing wrong with scissors, glue, and cardboard paper – I hope schools are not so quick to discard such fun, fulfilling, and slowed down activities.

More: When Real Worlds Collide

Literacy and Fluency

“My concern with Clark’s argument is that she puts ‘digital literacy’ to the sword, replacing it with ‘fluency’. This is problematic on two fronts. Firstly, the concept of literacy is not fixed. Secondly, we are better considering the plurality of digital literacies.”

Literacy is one of those words that has changed meaning during my lifetime. Or, to be more exact, it has taken on new meanings and even a dominant new meaning in Western culture.

Literacy is not fixed, but it does originate with being able to understand and use language. For language learning, fluency is one of the skills (along with developing language inputs, outputs, and things like vocabulary, grammar, syntax) that make up what it means to be literate. Nation calls it one of the four strands.

I probably wouldn’t replace literacy with fluency either, as literacy encases fluency. In it’s very basic sense, fluency is about speed.

The plurality of literacies is happening based on how the word is used all over the place. And with Belshaw’s list, I still wonder if this is a list of literacies, elements, incidences, competencies, skills, themes, or something else.

It’s worth thinking if there’s now very specific literacties, such as Adobe CC literacy, LMS Literacy, Browser Literacy, Media Literacy, Riding the Train in Tokyo Literacy. All of these are systems that require knowledge of meaning inputs and outputs, elements of function and position, and at a certain speed.

Is this what literacy means now? To understand, know and be able to use a specific culture or system?

If this is the case, the idea of fluency become very interesting. Fluency may be desired within one literacy (except when it’s too big of a system, see facebook), and between literacies it may not be desired. We need perplexity to learn, to apply knowledge in ways that are not conventional, not prescriptive, and below the surface of fluency.

More: Dana Boyd on Media Literacy

The Language and Culture of Literacies

It’s an entirely different thing to talk about these issues when the very act of asking questions is what’s being weaponized.

For a few weeks I’ve been trying to make sense of this talk by Dana Boyd. It’s jumpy, but there’s a lot in there. One of the underlying messages is that society has been focusing too much on “how”, and not enough on “what”. That is, infatuation with “how” technology is used for communicating, for learning, for anything…and not enough thought into “what” is communicated, is learned, is the subject matter.

She doesn’t stop there though, as this point about ‘what’ and ‘how’ has been made many times before. She goes further and claims that with the ‘what’ de-emphasized, the digital literacy tools and skills that have been emphasized (the ‘how’) have the potential for a strong negative impact on society.

She relates this all to media literacy. And, a question I always come back to, is about how the word “literacy” has changed (and is changing) over the course of my lifetime. Now we have “literacies”, and the emergence of relationships between different types of literacies.

Buried in her talk is a plea for what comes between all of these literacies. At the least, we need a sense of the language and culture to translate between different literacies.

More thoughts on a book by Boyd

More – She also talks about “When tech is involved, it often comes in the form of “don’t trust Wikipedia; use Google.” which is all too true.