Hawisher, Gail E., et al. “Becoming Literate in the Information Age: Cultural Ecologies and the Literacies of Technology.” College Composition and Communication 55 4 (2004): 642-92. Print.
On the broad view, this paper is a juxtaposition of two literacy narratives by individuals a generation apart. The authors use this generational gap to highlight the importance of situating literacies of technology acquisition in specific cultural, material, educational, and familial contexts. These contexts strongly influence and are, in turn, influenced by the acquisition and development of technological know-how by the acquirers.
The authors spend a bit of time noting how their study isn’t a celebration of newly developing technological literacies over traditional print and oral literacies; rather, because the acquisition and deployment of technological know-how is becoming fundamental to the functioning of an information economy, the authors hope that a more nuanced understanding of the ways that individuals come to technology will provide insight into how cultural ecologies affect technological literacy development. In the end, the authors find five primary themes about literacy acquisition: 1) literacies have life spans (literacies accumulate more rapidly in periods of radical cultural change); 2) people can exert their own powerful agency in, around, and through digital literacies; 3) schools are not the sole – and often, not even the primary – gateways through which people gain access to and practice digital literacies; 4) the specific conditions of access have a substantial effect on people’s acquisition and development of digital literacy (macro and micro factors); and 5) families transmit literacy values and practices in multiple directions (upstream from children to parents, downstream from parents to children and horizontally through different forms of media). After tracing how these 5 themes play out in the cultural ecologies of the two interviewees in particular, the authors note that as teachers we ourselves are illiterate to some literacies and must be more open to the human discursive practices that students arrive in our classes already knowing.