Internet literacies for active citizenship and democratic life

Hicks, D. van Hover, S., Washington, E. L., & Lee, J. K.

In this exploration of new literacies theory, we examine how literacies can support active citizenship and democratic life.

“In his 2001 book Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Larry Cuban asserted that minimal evidence existed to show that teachers and students were using technology specifically to “create better communities and build strong citizens” (p. 197). A decade later Cuban’s comments and concerns continue to resonate and raise important questions for those interested in citizenship education in the 21st century. That is, with the rapid proliferation of so many creative, engaging digital technological innovations, is the relationship between digital technologies and democratic citizenship education any less opaque? Do these new Web 2.0 technologies require different ways of thinking and talking about 21st century citizenship education? And to what extent is it possible to connect ideas of 21st century digital literacy to understandings of educating for active democratic citizenship? In this paper, we use these questions as initiating points through which to map the complex relationship between Web 2.0 technologies, literacy in the digital age, and learning for active citizenship. Heeding Shulman’s (2007) observation that “the work of both scholarship and practice progresses as a consequence of dialogue, debate, and exchange” (p. 1), we seek to initiate a generative dialogue, informed by transdisciplinary scholarship, about current understandings and descriptions of 21st century digital literacy, and the extent to which such technology ascribed literacy practices can be used to promote “active” citizenship.”

Download a complete version of this chapter here.

Hicks, D. van Hover, S., Washington, E. L., & Lee, J. K. (2011). Internet literacies for active citizenship and democratic life: In search of the intersection. In W. B. Russell (Ed.). Contemporary social studies: An essential reader (pp. 467-491 ). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.