An Attachment to our Traditions

With advancements in technology, literacy has started to move away from explaining the visual in words toward a stronger connection between the texts and the visual as well as the audio and spatial needs of the reader.  New modes of communication are reshaping the way we use language.

As an educator, text genres are on an incline rather than the decline.  New forms of reading and writing are enabling our young minds to extend past the rigid confines of a book and gain knowledge associated to their own learning interests.  However, As Kress (2005) mentions, ‘elites’ will continue to use writing as their preferred mode thus remaining attached to the traditional forms of literacy.   Our traditional ways of teaching and designing the language curriculum will continue to lead our educators as long as resources remain the same and professional development on new genres remains non existent.  Traditional forms are still heavily taught and analyzed by the students and only a few educators have begun to incorporate the new freedoms of practice that Kress refers to.  The use of multimodal literacies is still a fairly new concept within the education system here in Ontario.  While some classrooms are equipped with SMART boards, the use of technology in education is still not province wide.  Students are learning from books that are ordered and fixed in cultural and social audiences and are rarely introduced to genres that extend outside of traditional methods of literacy.

By having one mode of learning, students remain linear in their own experiences within the classroom walls.  The idea of multimodal experiences in reading and writing can be linked to our new ability to use hypertext on the Internet and the new forms of reading that are appearing for the younger generation.  Students are now given the freedom to explore according to their own personal interests and life world in mind. So why are educators not also introducing new forms of reading? Why are traditionalists so scared to open up to the use of technology and learning?  Bolter (2001) and Kress’ (2005) ideas of how literacy is shifting due to technological advancements are definitely true, but multimodal experiences are still mainly found inside the home or community.  The link within our education system remains weak and old forms of reading and writing continue to take the main stage.



Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kress, Gunter. (2005).  “Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge and learning. Computers and Composition. 22(1), 5-22. Retrieved, November 2, 2012, from


About Sarah Richer

passionate Canadian educator, creating a sustainable global shift 4 ed reform, researcher, tech enthusiast, mac lover, Studying Masters of Edu. Tech (MET)@UBC, Mississauga, Ontario ·

1 Comment

  1. Hello Sarah, I stumbled upon your blog and this piece you’ve written as well. I’m currently taking a class called Beyond Literacy where we’re studying ideas of post-literacy and discussing how visual literacy (reading and writing) is not “good enough” as a tool for communication. It’s hard to learn to read and even harder to learn to write, but perhaps in the future, we’ll develop different means of communicating that will help us move away from privileging one type of knowing (a privileged “top spot” currently held by visual literacy). I suppose the idea of transliteracy fits in here and I’m glad to see educators reflecting upon (and hopefully one day embracing) multimodal literacies.

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