Our lives are constantly being transformed by new technologies, global economies and cultures (Anstey, 2002). Educators in the 21st century are faced with the task of preparing students to function successfully in this ever changing and increasingly technological, globalised society. This has important implications for current practices in literacy education and it has been argued that new types of literacies need to be cultivated to ensure education is relevant in today’s society (Kellner, 2000). In fact, having a degree of mastery over a wide range of 21st century literacies may mean the difference between “a fully functioning life and one on the margin” (Gallego & Hollingsworth, 1992 p.206). What is required is a rethink of the concept of literacy. For example, the New London Group argue that “the multiplicity of communications channels and increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in the world today call for a much broader view of literacy than portrayed by traditional language-based approaches.” (1996, p.60). Further to this Unsworth (2002) indicates that the literacy practices characterised by the new millennium must go beyond traditional literacy practices. Kellner (cited in Snyder, 2002, p.155) also states, “...if education is to be relevant to the problems and challenges of contemporary life it must expand the concept of literacy and develop new curricula and pedagogies.” If teachers are to support this change, we can no longer think of being literate as having control over the written word either through reading or writing (Zammit and Downes, 2002), but the concept must “reflect the diversity of social, technological, cultural, linguistic and economic contexts of which they form a part.”(Ludwig, (2003, pi).
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