22 July, 2023
It was a great pleasure to be one of the two presenters at this year’s annual ConnecTalks, hosted by the The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and filmed in a TV studio in front of a live audience as well as being streamed on YouTube. Following the opening presentation by Amy Ebesu Hubbard on the importance of non-verbal aspects of communication, I addressed the topic of literacy, wellness and digital technologies.
In my presentation, entitled Digitally Literate, Digitally Well?, I noted that the technological, informational and sociopolitical developments of the last decade have led to a changed landscape for language teaching and learning: new educational possibilities have opened up, but new demands are also being made of education. I charted the changes that have taken place, examined the ways in which digital literacies can help to deal with these changes, and suggested that improving digital literacy skills can be a way of beginning to promote digital wellness. More specifically, by considering two key digital literacies – attentional literacy and critical literacy – I aimed to show how a focus on digital literacies and digital wellness can be interwoven with the teaching and learning of language. In conclusion, I argued that the time has come for language teachers to promote digital literacies – and digital wellness – alongside the teaching of language itself.
Feedback from the audience suggested that the digital wellness message struck a chord for many people, with some listeners commenting that they felt the need to make changes in their own lives, and others mentioning that they wanted to suggest to their children or their students that they should consider making changes in their lives, in order to avoid some of the attentional pitfalls of contemporary digital communications, particularly on social media platforms with their attention-hungry algorithms. The aim is ultimately to use digital technologies in more balanced and reflective ways, making the most of their benefits while also preserving our own physical and especially mental health. There’s a lot more to be said about this topic, and we’ll hear a lot more about it in years to come.
The full presentation is available on the ConnecTalks 2023 page on YouTube.