Definition of New Literacies

Tutorial – Week 1 (Monday 17th) 

New Literacies

The term ‘literacy’ in itself is a complex and evolving term.  The most prominent paradigm of literacy is that it is a skill, the ability to read and write (Houtman, 2013).  Literacy helps people communicate with each other. In addition to this, what people do with literacy (literacy practises), varies across cultures and time (Houtman, 2013).

Major advancements in technology, significantly the development of the internet has led to the development of new literacies. The term new literacies in the area of education, often refers to the various digital practises prominent in society (Houtman, 2013). There is an overwhelming number of different types of new literacies present in society which are forms of literacy formed by various digital technology developments. Examples of these forms include blogging, emailing, digital storytelling, chatting on online social network spaces and podcasting.

The concept of new literacies is continually transforming. What new literacies are today may not be what new literacies are tomorrow (Houtman, 2013).  Houtman (2013) states that Lankshear and Knobel (2011) in their paper pointed out that for new literacies to develop it needs both the new technical (digital) stuff and ethos stuff (new mindset and new values). Also, that new literacies are more “more participatory, collaborative, and distributed; less published, individuated, author-centric, or expert-dominated” (Houtman, 2013).


Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from Accessed March 17th, 2014


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