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Graham Attwell
16 November 2009

Individualized participation in public forms of communication and learning: reshaping contexts in a changing world of cultural products - John Cook and  Elisabetta Adami.
The ultimate contribution of this paper consists in investigating – and addressing researchers with – the following questions:

  • What relationship is there between user-generated content, user-generated contexts and learning?
  • How can educational institutions cope with the more informal communicative approaches to digital interactions that new generations of learners possess?
  • Does the notion of ‘learner-generated cultural resources’ represent a sustainable paradigm shift for formal education in which learning is viewed in categories of context and not content?
  • What are the issues in terms of ‘text’ production in terms of modes of representation, (re)contextualisation and conceptions of ‘literacy’?
  • Who decides/redefines what it means to have coherence in contemporary interaction?

A socio-cultural approach to mobile learning in the environment of at-risk social groups by Margit Böck.


Question 1a and 1b

1.a) Is it important – and if so, to what extent? – that those whom we call learners are aware that they are learning? For instance, when they engage in researching something with a mobile device and in the process of doing that produce content, maybe as an answer to a specific question.

1.b) To what extent can knowledge (‘knowing that’) and competences (‘knowing how’) which have been developed embedded in specific situations, be transferred to other situations and applied there, without further work (in the sense of reflecting on what actually went on, what actually happene

A further question for me is this: Is it likely that there will be effects on (results of) learning – however defined or measured / assessed – that the materials encountered by those regarded as learners in situations of mobile learning are regarded by them as learning material

Put as my Question 2 it would be

2. What effect is their in terms of the stance of learners (their attitude, their take) to read about, say, a historical event in a traditional History text-book or look at a website prepared by an official institution – maybe with a mission to offer materials for ‘informal learning’ such as a museum; or watch a segment of a TV documentary or a fictionalized film version, etc.? In other words, what effect resides in, can be assumed to lie in the ‘status’ of the materials that ‘learners’ are engaging wit

The background to this question are the statements of the media psychologist Gavriel Salomon, who, at the beginning of the 1980ties said – with reference to children, TV and reading: “TV is easy, print is tough” (suggesting that children need to concentrate more when reading than when watching TV and, as a consequence take away more in terms of ‘content’); or similarly, the charge that contemporary text-books are no longer ‘real textbooks’ but ‘merely entertainmen

So a third question might be:

3. What are the qualities, features, characteristics which learners expect from learning materials and from the media for learning, in order for them to take these and learning itself seriously? And in that context, what can be the meaning of ‘taking something seriously’?

Extra content

Live blogiging fromt he session.

Margit Boeck

Talking about New Literacy Studies - coming from linguistics, education, sociology and other areas. Literacy not just a cognitive phenomenon - those who write or read or engaged in texts are engaged in social processes with cultural resources - multiliteracies.

New literacies include mobile learning and learning inside and outside school.

Information habitus is habitus around getting and using infromation - literacy within the lifeworld. Information shaped into knowledge.

Literacies - process of ascribing meaning. Includes acting and interacting.

Literacy events - activities where literacy has a role (can be called naive practices). Issue of how used for reflection in learning - leads to - literacy practices - general cultural ways of utilising written langauge which people draw upon in their lives.

Literacy best understood as set of social practices - can be inferred from events mediated by written texts. Historically situated - practices change through informal learning and sense making - leads to identity.

Multimodality as means of representation.

New literacies - more participatory, more collaborative, more distributed, less published, less author centric than conventional literacies.

Change from readers of texts to users of texts.

Being critical and refelctive important - media literacy.

Central question about power as to whether new literacies available for all


Graham Attwell
12:43 on 1 December 2009 (Edited 13:16 on 1 December 2009)

Elizabetta Adami - issues on literacy in contemporary semiotic landscape.

Literacy has extended meaning - but only in English! Literacy as fruit of power relationships. Literacy same meanings as competence in italian.

Confused and diverse semiotic practices used for communciation in different countries. Some practices become institutionalised if approved by elite and then become genres with conventions.

Descriptions are important in a genre as proscribed and prescribed practices - this is what is taught in schools as literacies e.g. CVs, academic articles, newspaper articles but also dance, architecture etc. Vertical power relationships - texts policed by limited number contributors or elite. Standards change but always is a standard. Literacy is to know the established conventions. schools teach the norms of a society.

Power relations in new media more horizontal - developing wide variety of types of text which do not have established conventions - eg podcasts, text.

Shift from competence to given norms to creative ad hoc agency.

If schools to teach new lieteracies what norms can they teach to and what generalisations are possible? If was to be possibel is it desirable to keep cycle of institutionalisation going?


Graham Attwell
12:56 on 1 December 2009 (Edited 13:19 on 1 December 2009)

John Cook

Looking at theoretical dialogue between literacies and TEL.

UK xchildren have on average 6 media devices in bedrooms. Many defintions of new media. But PISA study says in many countries 15 per cent unable to read texts - many unable to understand information find on web. Wen not being used in uncritical way.

Need to extend theories from past. Augmented context for development. Looking at ideas Vygotsky.

Processes of coding and internalisation of intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships through developmental events.

Zone Proximal Development (ZPD) - distance between where are now and where could be with assistance more capable person or peer.


Graham Attwell
13:13 on 1 December 2009

More form Elizabetta - media have affordances for new shared social practices. Many devices enable us to produce great variety multi modal artefacts and distribute in social spaces - all share copy and past - ability to select, represent and  recontextualise. Changes in mechanism for representation have led to changes in mechanisms for communication. Leading to individualised participation in networks / chains of semiosis according to participants wishes. But shared understanding becomes less important than usability. Leads to scattering of coherence patterns. Coperating becomes less imprtant than using according to ones interest. Browsing is not coherent - but related to our interests in links we encounter whilst browsing.

Collecetd (and often incoherent) artefacts define online identity.

Questions - moving from coherence in contents to forms in contexts. Does this lead to a lack of wholeness. What capabilities are developed most and least. Is coherence still useful and where is it needed?

1. What is gained and what is lost?

2. Where are we headed to?

- do we teach the most required abilities

- or do we teach the lost-in-transition abilities

3. Is the description - pre/proscription cycle avoidable

Graham Attwell
13:46 on 1 December 2009

Embedded Content


Sus Nyrop
11:15pm 16 November 2009

Interesting - the theme of this research paper (by John Cook and  Elisabetta Adami.) relates indeed to my first Cloudscape  cloud that I started ten minutes ago,  with a narrow, first hand view ( currently working with my own three grandchildren and their beginner literacy, supporting their digital storytelling skills.  Thanks for the resumé, Graham! Where can I find this paper?

Graham Attwell
11:22pm 16 November 2009

sorry - taking a little time to get everything uploaded but will add link to all the papers tomorrow.

John Cook
12:43am 21 November 2009

Graham, thanks for posting our session papers (via link to your server! seems that is only way) ... have tried to add links between our 2 sessions ... hyperlink overload already ...


Gráinne Conole
8:35am 21 November 2009

Btw did you know you can now upload documens to slideshare? Then you can add here as embedded content...

John Cook
11:20am 21 November 2009

Thanks, yes ... any plans for Cloudworks to allow doc/media upload? I note you can pate word files but not ideal.

Cheers John

Gráinne Conole
11:56am 21 November 2009

Hi tricky one we are divided in the team - don't want cloudworks to become a repository. We want to encourage use of exisitng sites for uploading like slideshare and google docs, flckr for images, youtube for videos, etc. but I do take your point! I think not having a simple upload facility is a barrier for people and may put them off using the site. There are also some issues in terms of hosting content in case it is inappropriate in any way. Soooo not a simple answer at this point I am afraid.... but any thought you have on this are very welcome!

John Cook
1:27pm 21 November 2009

Hmm, on the one side you are encouraging openness already, however, if Cloudworks wants to leave a large open, digital footprint it may have to bite the bullet and enable files that the author has the rights to ... but I can see the legal teams getting in a fizz ... agree no easy answer ... to have the rights to do this could registered uses be required to click on an agreement to some terms that displace liability from you to the person uploading ... have fun with that one ...

Gráinne Conole
4:13pm 21 November 2009

Yes good points john - something to chew over, there is never a simple answer to these things! Another issue we are torn over is having these narrow columns for the debate... the column work well when you have a reasonably equal balance of discussion to links/references. But when u get  a debate like this, there is alot of white space... We are thinking of having tabs - one for discusion and one for links/references....

John Cook
10:16am 22 November 2009

Tabs are good but designing for ubiquitous devices is also key, of course I mean mobile devices ...

Gráinne Conole
11:28am 22 November 2009

Yes I agree having a version on mobiles will be very important. We are lucky that our graphical designer is excellent. We plan to book a slot of his time again soon, so will throw all these things into the mix.

Robin Goodfellow
8:49am 24 November 2009

Grainne directed me here because I'm interested in literacies, but despite the title I can't find any mention of it/them! (I downloaded John & Elisabetta's paper though, which looks quite interesting).

If anyone is interested in a literacies perspective, however, our (OU/Edin/Lancs/GCU) seminar series 'Literacy in the Digital University' has a seminar coming up at Glasgow Cally on March 1st. See our website and/or blog at

John Cook
4:04pm 24 November 2009 (Edited 11:12pm 24 November 2009)

Hi Robin,

What do you mean by literacy?

If you follow the link (above right) to the workshop session outline [] you will see we take an interdisciplinary perspective from around Europe on literacy ... you blog post looks interesting ... your comment about outside social networking norms not matching the criticality that we value in HE is somthing that I covered in my inaugural 9 months ago, see

Myslef and colleagues from the London Mobile Learning Group (who are running the workshop) call it the outside in, inside out problem.

Regards John

John Cook
10:45am 25 November 2009

We will shortly be uploading slides from various presentations together with, hopefully, audio material from the session as well as have ‘blog’ posts from various workshop contributors (which are wider than literacy). Thus our position will be evolve over next week. It is on the basis of a this fuller picture that we should be able to engage in a broader discussion with a wider group.

Regards John

Robin Goodfellow
11:55am 25 November 2009

What do you mean by literacy?

It's a well-establish field of study John - with strands and tribes like: multiliteracies, situated literacies, new literacy studies, academic literacies, digital literacies, etc. etc.

Re: 'digital literacy', which is probably what you're most interested in, given the title of your presentation, the Literacy in the Digital University seminars are coming at the question of what it might mean for higher education in the future by bringing literacy researchers and learning technology researchers together in the same (hopefully) discussion space.

See for my own take on some of the synergies & conflicts between these perspectives.

John Cook
5:18pm 26 November 2009

Thanks Robin, yes I know a can of worms ... just how I like it :-) the word literacy (as Gunter Kress likes to tell me) is an English invention ... all that before you get into academic tribes.  We as a group will get back to you on this (as I say above) ... as you may have gathered I am personally interested in research that develops a theoretical dialogue between literacies and technologies.


I have adding a link to another cloud about another session I am doing at Alpine Rendez-Vous, as I will be discussing it in the literacy slot I thought it was relevant: Cloud for Mobile Phones as Mediating Tools Within Augmented Contexts for Development

Mariano thanks for adding those excellent links ...

John Cook
8:44am 30 November 2009 (Edited 8:47am 30 November 2009)

Slides giving outline for the Literacy session in #telc09 #stellar2009 available at

John Cook
3:24pm 30 November 2009

Slides for my session 'Literacy: Hindsight, Insight and Foresight' in #telc09 #stellar2009 available at

John Cook
11:16am 1 December 2009

More slides for session Literacy

Elisabetta, Social semiotics and different perspectives on literacy


Margit, Information Habitus & New Literacy Studies

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