2.1.1. Traditional role of educators in literacy learning

As previously outlined in Module 1 ‘Digital Literacies: Where is the Concept From?’ we began to explore the concept of digital literacies from a definitional perspective, a pedagogic perspective and a theoretical perspective. We began to explore how this area of practice has evolved in recent years due to innovation in technology, progressive understandings of the role of the learner in education and changes in external factors such as a global pandemic and increased economic divides; which all have a major impact within this area of learning. However, it is essential that in tandem we also explore the changing roles and landscape of educators, particularly those involved in literacy learning.

“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed material associated with varying contexts. It involves a continuum of learning and in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society” (Education for All, Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO, 2006).

As previously highlighted, there are many fundamental areas of focus within the area of literacies including visual literacy, technological literacy, computer literacy and information literacy; to name but a few (Belshaw 2011). However, it is now commonly recognised that the traditional role of educators in providing literacy learning is changing. Traditionally, literacy educators were seen to be responsible for providing lessons which focus on classical forms of literacy education including the need to provide basic reading and writing lessons which support the learner to operate in their day-to-day lives (Barton, 1998). Currently though,, literacy education does not center around memorizing sentences, words or syllables or engaging in the what Freire critically described as ‘banking education’ but instead focuses on “an attitude of creation and re-creation, a self-transformation producing a stance of intervention in one’s context” (Freire, 1972). No longer are teachers and educators seen as the ‘experts’ and the learner, an empty vessel but instead, the educator has somewhat taken on the additional role of researcher, facilitator and coach whilst the learner is recognised as entering the learning space with an abundance of knowledge and life experience.

In 1984 Malcom Knowles, the father of andragogy, suggested four principles which should be applied to adult learning which should also apply to both literacy and digital literacy learning;

 ⮚ Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction,

 ⮚ Experience should provide the basis of any learning activity,

 ⮚ Adults generally are more interested in learning subjects which have immediate relevance in their personal life,

 ⮚ Adult learning should be problem centered rather than content-orientated (Kearsley, 2010).