Multiliteracies and the agency involved with computer operations in education

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Multiliteracies in motion: Current theory and practice, 2010, 1, pp. 105 - 124
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This chapter is a critical discussion and approach to understan ding agency in computer-mediated education. When students use computers to learn, they are simultaneously involved with various complicated processes of identity work (Luke & Luke, 2001). This identity work may be understood through the multiliteracies educational framework that has given us the notion of design as a central manner of organizing agency in learning (New London Group, 1996). However, the problem that this chapter grapples with is the socia-cultural consequences of understanding the agency of computers in education. The notion of design in multiliteracies must incorporate the formal and non-formal learning opportunities that computers facilitate (Street, 2000)-even though the "multimodality" of design when applied to contemporary text does give it emergent and multiple qualities that do go some way to account for the situation. The introduction of identity work through agency is the reason that curriculum designers and bureaucratic structures of educational systems may struggle with the non-linear and chaotic options that computer learning opens up (Cole, 2005a). To take account of the new ways in which social networks and technologically mediated desires and drives may be activated through computer use, the multiliteracies framework should be expanded to include connections to elements such as cyberpunk (Cole, 200SC)l and techno-tribalism. The former is an imaginary and literary manner of designating agency in a digitally mediated environment. The latter is a sociological platform whereby the movement of digitally mediated approaches to social organization may be understood as emergent properties that are being activated through education.
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