Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn - Cathy N. Davidson (2011)


Twenty-first-Century Literacies—a Checklist

Teachers at every level should be addressing the requirements, possibilities, and limitations of the digital media that now structure our lives. The new skills required to take advantage of the Internet have been called twenty-first-century literacies. Media theorist Howard Rheingold has named four of these—attention, participation, collaboration, and network awareness (see, and I have added many more. It’s a fluid list to which anyone, at any age, could add other skills required for our digital age.

• Attention: What are the new ways that we pay attention in a digital era? How do we need to change our concepts and practices of attention for a new era? How do we learn and practice new forms of attention in a digital age?

• Participation: How do we encourage meaningful interaction and participation in a digital age? How can the Internet be useful on a cultural, social, or civic level?

• Collaboration: Collaboration can simply reconfirm consensus, acting more as peer pressure than a lever to truly original thinking. HASTAC has cultivated the methodology of “collaboration by difference” to inspire meaningful ways of working together.

• Network Awareness: How can we thrive as creative individuals and at the same time understand our contribution within a network of others? How do we gain a sense of what that extended network is and what it can do?

• Global Consciousness: How does the World Wide Web change our responsibilities in and to the world we live in?

• Design: How is information conveyed differently, effectively, and beautifully in diverse digital forms? Aesthetics form a key part of digital communication. How do we understand and practice the elements of good design as part of our communication and interactive practices?

• Affordance: How do we assess all of the particular networked features, limitations, and liabilities of a particular technology in order to know when and how to use it to our best advantage?

• Narrative, Storytelling: How do narrative elements shape the information we wish to convey, helping it to have force in a world of competing information?

• Procedural (Game) Literacy: What are the new tactics and strategies of interactive games, wherein the multimedia narrative form changes because of our success or failure? How can we use game mechanics for learning and for motivation in our lives?

• Critical Consumption of Information: Without a filter (editors, experts, and professionals), much information on the Internet can be inaccurate, deceptive, or inadequate. How do we learn to be critical? What are the standards of credibility?

• Digital Divides, Digital Participation: What divisions still remain in digital culture? Who is included and who excluded? How do basic aspects of economics and culture dictate not only who participates in the digital age but how they participate?

• Ethics: What are the new moral imperatives of our interconnected age?

• Assessment: What are the best, most fluid, most adaptive, and helpful ways to measure progress and productivity, not as fixed goals, but as a part of a productive process that also requires innovation and creativity?

• Data Mining: How can we better understand how everything we contribute to the Internet produces data? How do we become savvy users and interpreters of this data?

• Preservation: What are the requirements for preserving the digital world we are creating? Paper lasts. Platforms change.

• Sustainability: What are the metrics for sustainability in a world where we live on more kilowatts than ever before? How do we protect the environment in a plugged-in era?

• Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning: Alvin Toffler has said that in the rapidly changing world of the twenty-first century, the most important skill anyone can have is the ability to stop in one’s tracks, see what isn’t working, and then find ways to unlearn old patterns and relearn how to learn. How is this process especially important in our digital world?