Empire State College Hosts Third Annual Transliteracy, Technology and Teaching Conference

By Sandra Barkevich, student, Center for Distance Learning, 2012-2014 student representative, Student Affairs Committee, and editor, The Student Connection

April 8, 2013

Transliteracy Technology TeachingThe third annual Transliteracy, Technology and Teaching (3Ts) Conference—“Transliteracy From Cradle to Career” – in mid-March was hosted by SUNY Empire State College at the Center for Distance Learning campus in Saratoga Springs.

Transliteracy is a term originally coined by Professor Alan Liu of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has since been expanded upon by this year’s 3Ts Conference keynote speaker, Sue Thomas. “I have heard people refer to us as the mother and father of transliteracy,” Thomas said.

Transliteracy is a unifying concept that encompasses literacy across all platforms in today’s society: print, broadcast, writing, digital media and social networking. The 3Ts Conference was created to address the need for educators to be able to interact with students who are increasingly transliterate.

Eighteen concurrent sessions included presentations on topics such as “Teaching Digital Fluency: The Case for Immersion,” by Nicola Marae Allain, Empire State College; “Transliterate Imagination: From Text Through Life Online,” by Karen E. Smith, University of Manitoba; “Teach M.E.: Teaching Media Education to Increase Student Achievement and Engagement,” by Erik M. Francis, Maverik Education LLC; and “Creating Virtual Pathways for Civic Discussion Using Social Media and Free Online Games and Tools,” by Tiia Kunnapas, DeVry University.

group watching a presentationAttendees included professors, librarians, K-12 teachers, curriculum designers and graduate students interested in expanding their knowledge of transliteracy principles and concepts and how to implement them within their own disciplines and institutions. “Much of the literature still pertains to a lack of training in digital literacy,” Allain said. “We are expecting students to acquire learning in digital fluency…We need our faculty and staff to be fluent—beyond literacy—if they want our students to be fluent,” Allain explained.

The idea that teachers, faculty and educational institutions need to become transliterate themselves so that they can effectively reach their audience, was a reoccurring theme among the varied presentations. “It’s time to work on a different model, something current—something new,” Smith said. Even with the need for increasing transliteracy among educators, there is also a need to focus on the basics. “If all the lights go out, we still need to know how to think,” Francis said. He added, “The knowledge is out there. What we need to teach is how to use it—we need to teach critical thinking.”

In her closing remarks, Thomas said, “It’s been really interesting and illuminating. I’ve been inspired to look into MOOCs more, and the use of TV in transliteracy. I will take this back to the UK with me.” MOOCs are massive open online courses that have achieved recent traction as a valuable tool for education. 2013 3Ts academic planning committee member Michael Daly said, “Learning should never be a solitary endeavor. That is why the 3Ts Conference was created.” Attendee Amy McBride said, “I appreciated that you included K-12. I think it’s important that you bridge that gap.”

To learn more about the conference session abstracts, go to http://threetees.weebly.com/index.html.

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