Digital Storytelling Reading Responses

Reading Response: Chapter 1 Lankshear and Knobel

I’ve seen the word literacy before.  I’ve seen the word in many iterations before: digital literacy, computer literacy, illiteracy, etc. but where do these words come from? Lankshear and Knobel explore this question in the first chapter of their text: New Literacies, Everyday Practices and Social Learning.

This chapter was particularly interesting to me being that I grew up in a foreign country, took all my elementary and high school classes in French (with the exception English class) and don’t have any formal schooling in the field of education.  I have been exposed to literacy at its base level of being able to read and write properly. As “new literacies” appeared I simply applied this concept to them; being computer literate meant that you could use a computer, being socially literate meant that you could carry a conversation with someone. Reading through this chapter opened my eyes to a different form of literacy.  One that examines more than just words, but more of a deeper understanding of language and culture.

The socioeconomic aspect of literacy piqued my interest.  Lankshear and Knobel’s statement Breastfeedingthat “Claims for associations between high literacy and better health outcomes” (p. 9)  prompted me to do some research on literacy and breastfeeding rates.  According to Heymann, Raub & Earle (2013):

If substantial public health information on breastfeeding is provided in written form, literate women will have greater access to information the benefits of breastfeeding. If advertising for formula is conducted in written form, then higher literacy rates may be associated with greater exposure to marketing an lower rates of breastfeeding. (p.400)

Being an educated, literate woman, I did my research on breastfeeding versus formula feeding while I was pregnant.  There was overwhelming evidence that breastfeeding was best for infants, and the added benefit of it costing little to no money confirmed my decision to breastfeed my child. I was surprised to learn that marketing to literate women can have an impact on such an important decision.

I was also introduced in detail to the difference between Discourses (with a capital D) and discourse (p. 13).  Discourses seem like they will play an important role in the creation and analysis of digital storytelling.

Lankshear and Knobel end the chapter talking about “New Literacies”.  Not new as in different original types of literacies, but “a new approach to thinking about literacy as a social phenomenon” (p.27). The word literacy has very much exploded in the past couple of decades, with journal names being changed, and it being applied to concepts other than language. I’m excited to learn more about New Literacies and how I can apply what I’m learning to digital storytelling.


Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press.

Heymann, Jody, Raub, Amy, & Earle, Alison. (2013). Breastfeeding policy: a globally comparative analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 91(6), 398-406. Retrieved June 10, 2015, from 10.2471/BLT.12.109363.

Disclaimer:  I feel the need to say that I have no issues with women who choose to formula feed their babies.

About Lisa


  1. Lisa, I enjoyed reading your response to chapter 1 and the approach you took on how to analyze what the authors were discussing– relating it to real life examples of your own. It’s so crazy how advertising and marketing can persuade even the most literate person. I’ve been in the industry now almost 10 years (wow, that’s scary to think about). Today, in our world of constant connectedness and endless choices, it’s so hard to make decisions about… well, anything really! This is why it’s so important for people to have literacies that enable them to make educated decisions when it comes to online information. It’s like when you have a sore throat and you Google “sore throat” and next thing you know, you’ve convinced yourself you have some chronic disease that there’s no cure for…

    I look forward to your next post! Hope you’re surviving our first week 🙂 It’s been a challenge, eh?

  2. Hi Lisa, I enjoyed your perpsective and critique of chapter 1. I found your research sample interesting, calling out a need for more printed materials for expectant mothers. I would argue for more – television, web, and radio ads supporting the perspective of breastfeeding. Unfortunatly, public agencies may not have the resources ($$$) to do this.

    I wonder if sifting through all of the evidence/information, weighing out pro’s and cons, made it easier for you to make your descision to breastfeed. Or rather, did the physical search for and consumption (or overconsumption) make it more stressful for you to decide on what to do? Likewise, does knowing the benefit make it any easier/difficult if you couldn’t produce milk for your baby? Obviously most of what I am asking may be beyond the scope of the assignment, but I would like to hear your thoughts.

    1. Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comments! I don’t think there would be any reason to market on expensive mediums (television, radio) for breastfeeding because there would be no return on investment since breastfeeding is basically free (except for all the extra food I ate, I swear I felt like a garbage disposal at one point).

      I don’t think the research made it more difficult, it probably made it easier. My mind is very logical, so finding facts with science to back it up instead of opinions really helped. I didn’t stress about not being able to produce. I understood that it was something that could happen (lucky for me it didn’t) and I was ok with that. Formula isn’t bad for babies, it provides them with all the nutrition they need, I was lucky enough to want and be able to breastfeed.

  3. Lisa, well, I must say, it seems like you have “some” idea what you’re doing!

    I appreciate how your post grounds your emerging understanding of new literacies with your focal theme – this is a useful framing, a solid introduction to your forthcoming stories, and will likely serve as nice connective thread for us as readers throughout the term.

    You also bring to the fore Gee’s distinction between Discourse and discourse. This is a powerful idea in sociocultural and linguistic theory, and – in fact – entire, semester-long graduate courses are devoted to exploring this theory. That said, I can’t expect our course to immediately appreciate this distinction, it’s importance to understanding literacies, and its application to our work with digital storytelling. On the other hand, we need to dig into learning theory so as to better attend to our own formative understanding of learning with digital stories. I’ll talk about this theory and idea in greater depth in a forthcoming screencast.

    Thanks for diving in so fully this first week!

    1. Remi,

      Thank you for the positive feedback. You have given me confidence an I think I might have a some clue as to what I’m doing.

      I’m looking forward to “diving deeper” and expanding my knowledge!

  4. Lisa, I liked your response to the first chapter. You successfully merged the content of the chapter, your experiences and your blog focus all in one cohesive, engaging post. I agree that literate people, in general, have better health outcomes. Literate people choose to consume information from information pamphlets, to books, to online searches, while illiterate people, or less-literate, rely on how things are marketed to them. My mother, a mother of 4, chose to breastfeed us. She did her research, a high school graduate with one semester of college, and learned of the benefits of breast milk. Then when my twin sister and I arrived, she was forced to formula feed me. I have literally been a problem child since infancy. I, the youngest of my mothers 4 children, could not digest my mothers breast milk. So it was soy formula for me. Growing up, my mother liked to tease me that her milk wasn’t good enough for me, I wanted the expensive store bought formula. When forced to feed me something other than my sister, she again did her research and identified the best formula for me. A less-literate woman may have settled to feed me any old ‘soy’ formula, but my mom chose to seek out the exact type/kind that was best for me, her problem child. I still refer to myself as a problem, especially now after reading this chapter. With all the new literacies of today’s world, I am rather illiterate. I tend to break things, not really, but to a point where I need assistance from a new literate person, tech person. So now, having read this chapter and have become aware of this, I will do my research on how to become more literate, with today’s ‘new’ literacies.

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