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« Venting's just one piece | Main | Educational romanticism »
Friday
Sep192008

In defense of postliteracy

...the postliterate as those who can read, but chose to meet their primary information and recreational needs through audio, video, graphics and gaming.
Pew's new survey: Teens, Video Games and Civics was released this week. It finds (big surprise), that:
Video gaming is pervasive in the lives of American teens—young teens and older teens, girls and boys, and teens from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Opportunities for gaming are everywhere, and teens are playing video games frequently. When asked, half of all teens reported playing a video game “yesterday.” Those who play daily typically play for an hour or more. 

Fully 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games.
And how did they spend their leisure time prior before there were video games?
Would 97% of kids report reading for pleasure?
Would 50% say they read for fun yesterday for an hour or more?

Are we already "postliterate?"

On another note,  I earlier argued "that postliteracy may be a return to more natural forms of communication - speaking, storytelling, dialogue, debate, and dramatization." and that we have an irrational bias toward print as the best way to communicate and preserve information due to our own success using the medium.

So it was interesting to read a new study from the Kaiser Foundation finds that when information is embedded in a television program, people remember it. Well, duh. Story, drama, dialogue...

Television as a Health Educator: A Case Study of Grey's Anatomy reports (from the press release)

In order to document how well viewers learn health information from entertainment television, the Foundation worked with writers at Grey’s Anatomy to embed a health message in an episode, and then surveyed viewers on the topic before and after the episode aired. The storyline involved an HIV positive pregnant woman who learns that with the proper treatment, she has a 98% chance of having a healthy baby. The study found that the audience’s awareness of this information increased by 46 percentage points (from 15% to 61%), a four-fold increase among all viewers. This translates to more than eight million people learning correct information about mother-to-child HIV transmission rates from watching the episode.

Schools and libraries take note. We are living in a postliterate society. Are we acknowledging and supporting or in denial?



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