Education Canada Magazine

EdCan Network, Promising Practices

The Signal: New media, new literacies

A Slew of Signals


Whether it’s news, social media or classroom learning resources, images and video are gaining primacy over print. Many teens use Snapchat to share spontaneous images and video and many use it as their news source. Most classrooms have a projector connected to a computer, making it easy for teachers to use many kinds of media to teach.

If you want to learn how to repair something, learn a computer program, play the piano, or even how to write, search YouTube. You can share what you know, what you can do or the strange thing your cat did, on Youtube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Twitter, Instagram or Imgur. If you’re interested in ideas or stories, you can listen to or create a podcast. Gamers can live stream their own game play or watch others play on Twitch. Audience size? Try 100,000,000 visitors a month. There are also many sites where you can take a course or create a course for free or a fee.

So what?

We need to prepare students to make sense and meaning with these new media texts that are increasingly a huge part of what we consume and create. And that means we will have to give up some old practices and attitudes.

As schools have been print-based, many in education continue to privilege print texts and to narrowly define literacy as the ability to read and write print texts. Rarely are we even teaching how print texts are written, presented and read differently online.

We talk about multiple intelligences in education, yet how prevalent are tests or exams that use multiple intelligences and multiple literacies?

Now what?

We need to invest our resources into teaching students how to critically analyze images and video and other new media. We need to teach our students the persuasive and expository techniques used in images and video and how to use them effectively. We can have students create video essays and post them online.

Traditional reading and writing texts are still important and won’t be going away. It is now a necessity, though, that schools teach students how to “read” and “write” with new media with the same urgency for creating literate students as before.

Rather than dragging past literacy definitions into the present, we need to bring present literacies into the future.


Participant reflections on signals of change

Participants at the 2016 EdCan Network Regional Exchanges discussed more signals of change than we could possibly cover — but we wanted to share a sense of their range and significance. We invited a number of participants to write a short piece reflecting on one of the signals they brought to the Exchange.


Discover more signals at:


We want to know what you think. Join the conversation @EdCanPub #EdCan!

Photos: Max Cooke and Yolande Nantel

First published in Education Canada, March 2018

Meet the Expert(s)

barry dyck

Barry Dyck


Barry Dyck has taught for over 28 years from Grade 4 to university level. He is currently in a new position teaching Grade 9 multimedia in Winnipeg, Man., where he’s working to get students in Grades 5-9 involved in creating content for the school’s daily YouTube broadcast while also preparing for a future podcast channel.

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