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Ecologies of digital literacies: implications for education

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Publication date31/08/2017
Host publicationEncyclopedia of Language and Education
EditorsSteven L. Thorne, Stephen May
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages13
Edition3rd ed.
ISBN (electronic)9783319022376
ISBN (print)9783319022369
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article outlines research on digital literacies which takes a social practice perspective, approaching digital literacies in real-life contexts as part of ecologies of communicative practices, and draws out the implications of this work for education. Early contributions are summarized, including analyses of hypertext and multimodality and debates around the extent to which language online changed from more speech-like to more writing-like forms. Major contributions are then described. These include work on young people’s everyday literacy practices, showing how these can transform established understandings of social status and expertise, work which focuses on literacies for informal learning in online settings and in video gaming, the nature of learning in communities in online communicative contexts, and challenges to dominant discourses and moral panics. Current areas of work in progress are identified including gaming and virtual worlds, curation, multilingual digital literacies, and language learning online. Challenges include clashes between the understandings generated by this research and drawn on in some policies and the powerful accountability regimes based on pen-and-paper testing which still frame many educational systems, the need to develop appropriate research methods and ethical challenges in this area, and the imperative of continuing to ensure a diversity of research sites to avoid focusing only on the practices of the privileged. Future directions for research are briefly addressed including the role of digital literacies in social movements and the need for more research in coding literacies.