Patricia Gouthro is a Professor in the Graduate Studies of Lifelong Learning program in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is the co-investigator for the SSHRC grant “Multiliteracies for adolescents and adults: Teaching and learning literacy in the 21st century” and in 2016 was awarded the Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty Award for Research Excellence.
Changing literacies/changing learning: Using a multiliteracies approach to enhance learning opportunities for adults
Drawing upon a nationally funded research study in Canada, this presentation uses video clips, interviews, and observations of educators working in community and classroom-based contexts to explore how multiliteracies offers pedagogical opportunities to enhance adult literacy. Building on a social justice perspective, multiliteracies also considers how new technologies and multimodalities can augment more traditional approaches to literacy in a rapidly changing global world.
Freire (1987) argues that reading the word allows one to read the world. We share this critical belief that fostering literacy offers opportunities for adult learners to engage in social change. Multiliteracies is a term coined by the New London Group (1996) to explore critical and creative approaches to literacy that support learners from diverse backgrounds. This presentation draws upon findings from a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada study to examine how a multiliteracies approach can enhance adult literacy. A multiliteracies approach values the benefits of reading, but also incorporates multimodal methods to create transformative opportunities for learning and augment more traditional approaches to literacy (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009).
Our presentation will be of interest to faculty, educators, and practitioners who work with adult learners in community, academic, or workplace contexts. Of particular interest will be the development of our web platform that will be used to disseminate short videos, interview clips, and sample material guides, in addition to scholarly articles and presentations, that highlight teaching strategies used by literacy educators in a range of contexts. Like Penual and O’Connor (2018), we are interested in delving into the ongoing relevance and changing contexts for teaching with multliteracies, considering how these pedagogical approaches may support learners for whom English is an Additional Language, how technology can be thoughtfully and strategically implemented in various adult learning contexts, and how artistic and multimodal approaches build on the more critical lens of New Literacies (Crowther, Hamilton & Tett, 2006) to address literacy from a social justice perspective. Reading can change lives, but we need to be innovative in how we engage 21st century adult learners to help them understand the texts that shape our lives and our world.