Sunday, August 9, 2009

CMAP - Needs-based Literacies for Community Builders

Literacy/ies is/are (a) slippery thing/s, as shown by the lack of consensus on what exactly it/they consist/s of in the digital era -- not to mention the historical lack of consensus on what exactly a literacy is.

As for digital literacy/ies, although valiant attempts at mapping out all-encompassing frameworks continue (not without controversy), the final conclusion in this relatively nascent field still seems to be: come up with a model for your personal needs that works -- a feat that itself requires the metacognitive dexterity of digital literacy/ies to accomplish...and yet both are appropriate responses in the age of information superfluity and flux.

For me, the concept of literacy is intrinsically linked with power -- it is the knowledge of how to identify, access and use information to build economic and social power.

So, my definition of literacies (in the plural) is: What you need to have in order to understand what you need to understand so that you can know what you need to know in order to do what you need to do.

Confused? Hopefully you won't be after taking a look at the concept map above.

It breaks down the function of building an online community of practice into sequential steps and then attempts to map onto that sequence the necessary literacies involved at each step.

It goes without say that multiple literacies may be involved at any given step; however, what the map tries to do is define the dominant literacy needed to successfully complete each step and move on to the next.

I focused on the role of community builder because this is what I do, and the map represents my own literacy framework, but also because I think that the tasks involved generally represent skillsets -- and therefore literacies -- expected of new knowledge workers:
  • Cultural literacy
  • Research literacy
  • Tools literacy
  • Information literacy
  • Evaluation literacy
  • Communications literacy
  • Management literacy
I put this map together using Keynote, a PowerPoint-type application for Mac, trying to keep the visuals simple and the links intuitive while focusing on breaking down workflows, tasks and information needs.

As with all my concept maps, the hard part was having to define and categorize what I generally do intuitively and holistically. And of course, that was the value of the exercise, which has left me with not only a clearer understanding of my own digital literacies (and lack thereof) but also a nice digital product that I can now repurpose into my work.

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