this work is published under a CC attribution - non commercial - share alike licence
The Post Industrial Media Project is a collaborative teaching and learning research project undertaken by Adrian Miles, Allan Thomas, David Carlin, Glen Donnar, Paul Ritchard, Rachel Wilson and Seth Keen of the RMIT Media program.
The network is the pedagogy
Process has priority over product/outcome (vector over commodity)
Literacy as reading is consumption of commodity; literacy as network is productive process (rather than gathering information, it produces knowledge.)
The fundamental unit of the network is the link; a link is formed whenever two or more elements are connected; a link is a relation; network literacy is the ability to actively articulate relations between elements (texts, ideas, peers, practices, contexts etc.)
Traditional literacy (teaching and learning as instruction) is assessable in terms of quantity of elements (how much do you know?) Network literacy is assessable in terms of richness of connection.
Traditional literacy/pedagogy is representational and hierarchical; knowledge flows from the top down (I tell you - or in the context of current educational institutions, I sell you - what I know, and get you to give it back to me, i.e. assessment.)
Traditional literacy operates in terms of repetition of pre-existing knowledge; network literacy operates in terms of productive process (knowledge is created, not found.)
Networks are open (new connections continue to be made, internally and externally); hierarchies are closed (once the appropriate quantity has been passed down the line, the game is over.)
In Deleuzian terms, instructional teaching and learning is arboreal (hierarchical, top down, representational), and networked teaching and learning is rhizomic (horizontal, peer to peer, constantly changing/growing - 'becoming other', to use the jargon.)
Learning does not take place until the student appropriates an idea ('owns' it) and puts it to use in her or his own context/s (the teacher as facilitator of connections, not source of content) - learning by doing.
Networks are not opposed to hierarchies (the above model of traditional literacy is a caricature - process and problem-based models are well established in conventional non-networked teaching and learning environments.) Networks can grow from hierarchies; hierarchies may sprout networks.
Even network models require some content (though this may be gathered from the network to a greater or lesser extent); networks emphasise the active production of links between elements (content), hierarchies emphasise the (relatively) passive repetition of elements (content).
The distinction may be usefully compared to the contrast between broadcast and networked media models: top down (teacher to student), one to many, passive (broadcast) vs horizontal (communication between peers), any to any, active.
The 'network' in network literacy is not just about technological networks, or networks of knowledge, it is also about peer networks of shared teaching and learning.
Analogy: network literacy is to traditional literacy/instructional literacy as open-source programming is to proprietary systems (the network always 'knows' more than the individual.)
Problem-based learning contrasts with question based learning (Question based: what is the answer? = repetition of information; Problem-based: the creation of links between elements is the articulation of a problem, which has no single answer, but rather is a spur to productive exploration.)
Brabazon, T (2002), Digital Hemlock: Digital Education and the Poisoning of Teaching, UNSW Press: Sydney, p.61, pp.66-68, p.111
Buckingham, D (2003), Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture, Polity Press: Cambridge, pp.173-188 (digital literacy).
Butcher, C, Davies, C & Highton, M (2006), Designing Learning: From Module Outline to Effective Teaching, Routledge: London, pp.85-86 (criteria for evaluating internet resources)
Kist, W (2005), New Literacies in Action: Teaching and Learning in Multiple Media, Teachers College Press: New York.
Klobas, J (2006), Wikis: Tools for Information Work and Collaboration, Chandos Publishing: Oxford, pp.38-43 (criteria for assessing information content, online resources & wikis)
Richardson, W (2006), Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts: and other powerful web tools for classrooms, Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks, pp.28
Tyner, K (1998), Literacy in a Digital World: Teaching and Learning in the Age of Information, Lawrence Erlbaum: Mahwah, NJ.