Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keynote Address (Professor Kay O’Halloran from NUS)

O'Halloran's keynote touched on 21st century needs with an emphasis on teachers having the knowledge in the disciplines that come with their own theories. She reminded everyone about the rapid change in information and also disintegration of borders – global world, and the increasing use of interactive digital media.

She referred to the New London Group for the various modes and senses and I think it is apt also for everyone to take a look at it. Be warned that it is a long article published in 1996. These people were really visionary because what they thought of 13 years ago are still relevant today!

She then referred to Mr Obama’s use of new media in his campaign.

O'Halloran then went on to talk about a few kinds of literacies:
1. Notion of multiliteracies
2. Language Literacy, Visual Literacy, Information Literacy and Media Literacy
3. Useful approaches

I will not belabor her points here but go straight to the crux.

Language Literacy is the language to create meaning. She however asked us how powerful it is as a tool?

She then asked an essential question:
How to create those meaning (either spoken or written)?

In other words, we need to give students the metalanguage and help them to see the functions those word classes do [a system of systems].

Language is a functional resource – leads to understanding to grammar.

Another essential question:
What are the different meanings? {Experiential, Interpersonal, Textual}
How are they being conveyed? What modes could they take?

For that, we can refer to Suzanne’s Systemic Functional Linguistics.

Three Strata:
1. Meaning (not just about contents): allows us to share our experiences, assertions and desires across
2. Grammar & Vocabulary/Lexis
3. Sounds and Words (Images)

She urged all to attune students to choices of lexis to convey meaning or to elicit some responses; get them to see which has been chosen over others (this implies they should be aware of the various choices in which they can make).

Visual Literacy is visual representation of text and layout.

We need to be able to Access and Interpret meaning in images as they are resources for meanings.

There is grammar for images and words and a relationship between language and visual literacies - Iconic signs, symbolic signs, indexical signs.

Interesting example shown (this wall in this building that creates a 3-dimensional effect)

Systems and choices still relevant for this type of literacy; to become sensitive to the choices they have made; build a profile of what images are used for what contexts – how do we go about doing this?

Interaction between language and resources – will this deviate the reader/viewer from the intended message/meaning?

Information Literacy - We should get students to underline words, analyse choice of images/words – students must still have the metalanguage to talk about the interaction between print and non-print messages.

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