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On the 21st Century literacies the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) released several statements recently, most notably the “Definition of 21st Century Literacies,” which was adopted by the NCTE Executive Commitee on February 18, 2008.  

The “Definition” statment follows NCTE’s 2005 “Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies,” which addressed issues of definition and challenges of new/digital/multimodal literacies.  Even more recently, NCTE released a set of guidelines, “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education,” which attemps to deal with new issues concerning fair use and copy right.  And in 2007,  NCTE released “21st Century Literacies: A Policy Research Brief.”

The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCCs), which meets next week in San Francisco,  also released “Position Statement on Teaching, Learning, and Assessing Writing in Digital Environments,” in 2004.

Toward A Definition of 21st-Century Literacies
Adopted by the NCTE Executive Committee
February 15, 2008

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

• Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and
cross-culturally
• Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of
purposes
• Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous
information
• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

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