To begin, Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice, Doug Eyman talks about how digital literacy goes beyond just text and in fact includes different symbol systems, visual representations, and digital object manipulation (pg. 48). These concepts of understanding digital literacy fall under “multiliteracies”.
Multiliteracies are the idea that we understand the information and design of meanings through the manipulation of different creative modes. Meaning literacy is not restricted to just print or written forms of language.
Identifying the Modes
In a digital world, using multiliteracies or different modes of representation allows for a more diverse way of learning.
There are four different modes of literacy that fall under the term “Multiliteracies”:
First, Visual Literacy is the ability to interpret or understand meaning from the form of an image(s). Examples of this would be film, video, cartoons, posters, computer simulations, etc.
Then, we have Textual Literacy which is the ability to read while understanding context, evaluating that information, and then challenging it when needed. This would include analyzing books, blogs, news articles, and different websites.
Next, Digital Literacy as we know is the ability to navigate, communicate, understand, and assess various digital platforms. Examples of digital literacy would be when we assess posts on social media, create YouTube videos, navigate TikTok, etc.
Finally, Technological Literacy is the ability to understand, use and manage technology both effectively and responsibly. This literacy includes creating, evaluating, and integrating information. Examples would be creating a website, using Google to look up a question, creating a social media account, etc.
Why Are They Important?
An idea explained in Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice, is that “Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy (pg. 48).”
That being said, we are constantly evolving technologically and socially within digital spaces. It is important for individuals in our society to develop these skills to keep up with the advances in technology and be able to indulge in multiliteracies.
As a future teacher, multiliteracies are important for student learning. Now that many classrooms involve technologies like iPads, tablets, and computers there are more digital outlets for students to learn literacy. Multiliteracies in the classroom engage students’ cognitive abilities and apply critical thinking to their actions, behaviors, identities, and social engagement on digital platforms.
Overall, I agree with Doug Eyman’s statement that digital literacy is “a requirement of both students and scholars of digital rhetoric (pg. 49).” As a developing technological world we should all have a knowledge of multiliteracies and be able to use them to navigate our digital world.