Literacy

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Note: This information is useful for both the Arabic and Africa pages, as it's general in nature. Thus, it's here in one place and can be transcluded on other pages, rather than repeating the info.

Stern (2002) suggest there is a literacy spectrum:[1] (is this valid, are there other ways to look at this?)

  • alphabetic literacy - able to write
  • functional literacy - able to read and write
  • social literacy - able to communicate in a cultural context
  • information literacy - able to locate, critically evaluate, and use information
  • digital information literacy - able to apply information literacy in the digital environment

In addition to classical literacy -- focusing mainly on written text -- there is media literacy that is not limited to written text, but all forms of messages we watch, hear, and read. Media literacy focuses on critical interpretation of different kind of information including news, entertainment, advertisement and propaganda in all different media, such as new papers, magazines, radio, TV, Internet/WWW etc.

In order to use Wikipedia as a reader, one would need the highest level of literacy -- digital information literacy or perhaps information literacy and media literacy. To contribute to Wikipedia as an editor, one may need a level of literacy and skill (& technical competence) beyond that.

UNESCO Information For All Programme (IFAP) defines information literacy as the capacity of people to recognize their information needs, locate and evaluate the quality of information, store and retrieve information, make effective and ethical use of information and apply information to create and communicate knowledge (Catts & Lau, 2008).[2]

Applied to Wikimedia projects

In order to use Wikipedia as a reader, one would need the highest level of literacy -- digital information literacy or perhaps information literacy and media literacy. To contribute to Wikipedia as an editor, one may need a level of literacy and skill (& technical competence) beyond that.

If Wikimedia content could be presented in alternative, simpler to use formats or platforms (e.g. offline, wikipocket reader(practical?), SMS, or something simpler), be well-written or presented concisely, and content organized/selected in a way that it's most relevant for the audience, then the information could be made accessible to those with social or only functional literacy.

In Wikipedia content could be presented in alternative media formats, such as audio and video the information could be made accessible for those with out alphabetic / functional literacy, but media literacy skills. Users with audio and video production skills, but not functional literacy in their native language could have content in Wikipedia in a recorded spoken narratives in audio and/or video.


References

  1. Stern, Caroline (2002) "Information Literacy Unplugged: Teaching Information Literacy without Technology"
  2. http://www.ejisdc.org/ojs2/index.php/ejisdc/article/viewFile/613/296