Digital Technologies: A new era in literacy education?
This article was downloaded by: [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]On: 05 October 2014, At: 04:01Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKDiscourse: Studies in the CulturalPolitics of EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cdis20Digital Technologies: A new era inliteracy education?HELEN NIXON aa University of South Australia , Adelaide, AustraliaPublished online: 01 Jul 2010.To cite this article: HELEN NIXON (2003) Digital Technologies: A new era in literacy education?,Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 24:2, 263-271, DOI: 10.1080/01596300303035To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01596300303035PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. 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Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cdis20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/01596300303035http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01596300303035http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsDiscourse: studies in the cultural politics of educationVol. 24, No. 2, August 2003REVIEW ESSAYDigital Technologies: a new era in literacy education?HELEN NIXON, University of South Australia, Adelaide, AustraliaTeachers and Techno-literacies: managing literacy, technology and learn-ing in schoolsCOLIN LANKSHEAR & ILANA SNYDER with BILL GREEN, 2000Sydney, Allen & Unwinxxi 178 pp., ISBN 1-86448-946-4Silicon Literacies: communication, innovation and education in the elec-tronic ageILANA SNYDER, 2002London and New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Groupxii 190 pp., ISBN 0-415-27668-3Although microcomputers have been a feature of many Australian schools for overtwenty years, it was not until the advent of the personal multimedia and internet-capablecomputer in the mid-1990s that English/literacy educators began to pay systematicattention to the literacytechnology interface. Teachers and Techno-literacies: managing literacy,technology and learning in schools written by Colin Lankshear and Ilana Snyder with BillGreen, and Silicon Literacies: communication, innovation and education in the electronic age editedby Ilana Snyder, both enter into dialogue with and contribute to current debates aboutthe complexity of contemporary literacy practices in the age of digital technologies. Thetwo books are complementary in that they argue that it is not tenable to try toincorporate the new information and communication technologies (ICT) into conven-tional literacy frameworks. Both books call on educators to develop the readiness to thinkabout the changing world of literacytechnology in informed and systematic ways, andboth books contribute to the theory and information base required to enable this tohappen.The authors of these two books, Lankshear, Snyder and Green, were members of aresearch consortium that carried out the first major piece of Australian research onliteracies and technologies in education in the mid-1990s, a project from which todaysliteracy educators and researchers are still able to learn a good deal. Funded by theCommonwealth Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth AffairsISSN 0159-6306 print; 1469-3739 online/03/020263-09 2003 Taylor & Francis LtdDOI: 10.1080/0159630032000110775Downloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 264 H. Nixon(DEETYA) through the Childrens Literacy National Projects Program, and reported asDigital Rhetorics: literacies and technologies in educationcurrent practices and future directions(Lankshear et al., 1997), the project was jointly led by Colin Lankshear and Chris Bigum;other researchers on the team were Ilana Snyder, Bill Green, Cal Durrant, EileenHonan, Wendy Morgan, Joy Murray and Martyn Wild. The Digital Rhetorics project iscited as a stimulus and resource for Teachers and Techno-literacies and it clearly builds onthat report.In the space available I am unable to do justice to Teachers and Techno-literacies as awhole. The book comprises six chapters. Chapter 1 provides portraits of three schools.These portraits are used to identify issues and themes related to managing literacy,technology and learning in schools, which are in turn developed and enlarged through-out the chapters that follow. I have found this chapter a useful introductory reading inprofessional development courses for teachers new to this field precisely because thecontrastive portraits are grounded in the realities of school life and they vividlyforeground some of the complex philosophical and practical challenges posed by theperceived imperative to integrate ICT into the curriculum. The questions posed inChapter 1 remain as relevant today as when they were written: How may literacy teachers learn to use new technologies effectively in their pro-fessional work? What pedagogical models exist that take literacy and technology into account in wayson which teachers can build for classroom use? How are literacy and technology related, and how can literacy teachers make sense ofthis relationship to build sound pedagogy? What sorts of principles exist for guiding the integration of new technologies intoclassroom learning? What methods count as sound uses of new technologies in classroom-based literacyeducation? (p. 3)Chapter 2 aims to integrate the three constructs of literacy, technology and learning.This is the most theoretical chapter of the book and, because it bears close reading anddiscussion with colleagues and pre- and in-service teacher education students, I devotesignificant space to it below. Chapter 3 provides a short overview of what educationalpolicy is and does, and explores the policy roles that teachers need to play in theirprofessional lives (p. xx). This chapter is a useful historical document in its focus onnational and state-level policy documents that apply directly to the interface betweentechnology, literacy and learning. Chapter 4 draws on site studies conducted in the DigitalRhetorics project and complements and expands on the three school portraits in Chapter1. The authors use classroom portraits from five schools to provide an information basefrom which to develop ideas, strategies and plans for building on existing strengths andaddressing current shortcomings in pedagogy, policy and professional understanding atthe literacytechnology interface (p. xx). Chapter 5 draws out a framework of patternsand principles for thinking about the findings of the site studies. Subsequent research intoliteracy and ICT in other schools (e.g. Comber & Green, 1999; Nixon & Kerin, 2001)suggests that the five patterns of classroom practice discussed herecomplexity, fragility,discontinuity, conservation and limited authenticityare still very much in evidence.The five principles for the effective integration of ICT into classroom-based literacyeducation classroom practiceteachers first, complementarity, workability, equity andfocus on trajectoriesremain pertinent, and literacy educators need more accounts ofthese principles being adopted in educational sites. Chapter 6 translates this frameworkDownloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 Digital Technologies 265of patterns and principles into suggestions and guidelines designed to assist policy makers,literacy educators in universities, school leaders and individual teachers to plan andprogramme in order to address the many challenges explored in earlier chapters.Given the prior histories of collaboration between the authors, it is not surprising thatTeachers and Techno-literacies and Silicon Literacies proceed from a similar theoreticalpositionthat literacy is a social practice (Street, 1984). From this perspective, emergingtechnology-mediated literacy practices can be understood only when they are con-sidered within their social, political, economic, cultural and historical contexts (Snyder,2002, p. 5). This argument is most fully developed in the second chapter of Teachers andTechno-literacies, which is titled Understanding the changing world of literacy, technologyand learning. The authors quite rightly claim that this chapter offers some ideas thatwill be useful to literacy teachers in this challenging and changing context (p. 23). Manyof these ideas, first published in Digital Rhetorics in 1997, remain productive andprovocative at the time of writing in 2003. These include the ideas that literacy isincreasingly having technology added to it; that new information and communicationstechnologies (ICT) provide new ways of doing literacy; that different contexts of socialpractice embed different forms of literacy; and that what literacy means is alwayschanging along with new modes of human practice and ways of experiencing the world(p. 26).Chapter 2 of Teacher and Techno-literacies also includes an elaborated discussion of whathas come to be known as the 3D model of literacy (Green, 1988; Durrant & Green,2000; Lankshear et al., 1997). The 3D model considers literacy to be an ensemble ofsocial practices that involves three dimensionsoperational, cultural and criticalwhichoverlap, intersect and are interdependent. This model was influenced by Greens (1988)research into the relationships between literacy and subject or content-area learning andwas subsequently developed in response to the increasing technologisation of literacy(Bigum & Green, 1993; Durrant & Green, 2000). In more recent discussions, Green usesthe shorthand device of emphasizing the IT in the word l(IT)eracy to symbolize thebringing together theoretically of literacy and IT within this model. The operationaldimension of l(IT)eracy learning includes how to make the computer work from thebasics of turning on to searching databases or operating a CD ROM. The culturaldimension includes understanding that we use texts and technologies in particularcontexts to make meaning and to do things in the world. The critical dimension ofl(IT)eracy learning includes being able to assess and critique software and otherresources, and to appropriate or redesign them for particular purposes. This modelemphasises that literacy learning is done as people participate in the social and culturalpractices of making meaning for real purposes, and that textual and communicative workis always done in actual communities and institutions and has real effects. It foregroundsthe socially constructed nature of any literacy into which people become socialised, andemphasises the potential for a literacy to be acted on and transformed. The 3D modelof literacy thus provides a timely corrective in this era of narrow conceptions of literacyand so-called literacy standards, and reminds educators of the importance of adoptinga socially critical stance as consumers and users of computers.The final sections of Chapter 2 in Teachers and Techno-literacies provide support foreducators wanting to adopt a critical stance towards new technologies. Bigum andGreens (1995) resource-context model of new technologies is brought together withPaceys (1983) notion of technology practice, and Sproull and Kieslers (1991) idea offirst and second level effects of new technologies, to argue the need for a closeexamination of the feedback loop that exists between the claims made for the newDownloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 266 H. Nixontechnologies and the resultant changes in their settings or contexts of use. The authorsprovide a logical explanation for why computers get schooled, or made into things thatsupport and sustain the technology that is the school (p. 37). Chapters 1 and 4 of thebook, which provide snapshots of school and classroom practice, illustrate this process atwork, showing how computers become schooled as many teachers attempt to conductbusiness as usual. However, they also suggest what it might look like for educators toadopt a socially critical approach to the introduction of ICT into daily workplacepractice.Chapter 2 of this book also challenges teachers to think critically about the literacytechnology interface by arguing the necessity for rethinking established ways of associat-ing literacy and text. The questions posed here remain pressing for literacy theorists andeducators alike:Is the text metaphor (Morgan, 1996) adequate or even appropriate forunderstanding multimedia practices, information flows, or meaning-makingpractices in general within a dramatically mutating semiotic landscape(Kress, 1995, p. 25)? Does text encompass image? Sound? Multimodality?Non-linearity (Snyder, 1996)? (p. 38)The argument is made that the shift from print technology to computing and digitaltechnology problematises a number of former assumptions about the specificity of a text,including its boundedness in time and space:With the emergence of database technology, hypertext and hypermedia, wecan now ask: Where is the text? Indeed, more radically and unusually, we canask: When is the text? Also: What is the text? Which is the text and which iscontext? (p. 38)Finally, the authors argue that another key problem for literacy education is thetraditional view that texts encompass or subsume information. In a society that increas-ingly privileges information, there is a need for us to view literacy as involving, evenrequiring, the integration of text and information (p. 39). As the authors point out, thenew privileged status of information confronts head-on the liberal-humanist tradition ofliteracy theory and pedagogy (p. 39) which has as its objective the encouragement ofchildren to experience and create their own imaginative worlds through reading andwriting. In an attempt to assist readers to consider the possible implications of thinkingtogether literacy and computing, the authors suggest that various types of literacy/computing might be classified according to whether they are text based, informationbased, programming based or games based. Although this is an interesting idea, itremains to be seen how useful such schemata might be for the field of literacy education.Taken as a whole, Chapter 2 is immensely thought provoking and I continue to find itsspeculations and provocations challenging in my own research and in professionaldevelopment contexts when I work with teachers inquiring into the literacytechnologyinterface.Since the mid-1990s, Ilana Snyders contribution to the literacytechnology debateshas been significant, beginning with the publication of Hypertext: the electronic labyrinth(1996), followed by the edited collection Page to Screen: taking literacy into the electronic era(1997), co-authorship of the Digital Rhetorics report (Lankshear et al., 1997) and thesubsequent Teachers and Techno-literacies, and now Silicon Literacies: communication, innovationand education in the electronic age.Unlike Teachers and Techno-literacies, Silicon Literacies is an edited collection of essays onliteracy and technology. It builds on the work begun in Page to Screen (Snyder, 1997), andDownloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 Digital Technologies 267includes contributions by some of the same authors (Catherine Beavis, Nicholas Bur-bules, Jane Yellowlees-Douglas, Michael Joyce, Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear).For the title of this collection, Snyder coins the term silicon literacies to describe theways that meanings are made within the new communication systems of multimodalhypertext. In her introduction and conclusion, Snyder makes the argument that acomplex interplay of three constructsthe new communication order, the new politicalorder and the new work ordershapes and circumscribes the lives, identities andpossibilities of contemporary students. Silicon Literacies takes as its particular focus the newcommunication order centred around ICT. The range of authors in this collectionillustrates Snyders contention that the field of literacy and technology studies isessentially an interdisciplinary endeavour. However, the challenge for contributors to thecollection was to find ways to provoke readers to consider what the use of these newtechnologies means for educational practices.Silicon Literacies is organised in two parts. Part 1 (Online literacy and rhetoricalpractices) looks at the emergence of new types of text, new language practices, and newsocial formations as people find different ways of communicating with each other (p. 5).Part 2 (Teaching, learning, technology and innovation) looks at the possibilities forcreative changes to pedagogical and institutional practices when ICTs are used (p. 8).The diversity of topics addressed in the collection is testimony to the way that thewidespread take-up of ICTs is changing how culturally significant information is codedand forcing university- and school-based educators to rethink their fundamental goals,values and pedagogical approaches.Part 1 informs readers about some of the changing cultural dimensions to literacytechnology practice. In the opening chapter, Knobel and Lankshear document some ofthe new literacy practices engendered by the internet. Focusing on the communityratings feedback system on eBay, they explore the idea of cyberspace as a new socialisingspace, and discuss the social issues and responsibilities such new practices may evoke(p. 15). Their discussion reminds educators that widespread use of the internet is likelyto produce many new issues of relevance not only to literacy education, but also to moraland civic education.In Chapter 2, Chris Abbott argues that users of the world wide webmany of themyoung peopleare developing changing representational resources, and he calls for moreethnographies of how different groups develop and use these resources. The main focusof the chapter is on the potential for the availability of symbols through ICTs to extendopportunities for students with special needs. In Chapter 3, Catherine Beavis also reportson the widespread use of ICTs by young people, though her focus is on computer games.She explores the potential for new kinds of narrative and multimodal communicativepractice associated with computer games to inform the English/literacy curriculum. Bothauthors remind the reader that it is one of the paradoxes of what is often referred to asthe digital divide that many of those people who have most to gain from suchtechnologies are often those least able to get access to them (Abbott, p. 39).The remaining three chapters in Part 1 of Silicon Literacies focus more specificallyon the language and rhetorics of the internet. In Languages.com: the internet andlinguistic pluralism, Mark Warschauer explores the paradox that although the internethas English as its global language, members of Indigenous and minority groups makeuse of the internet to try to preserve and revitalise endangered languages. Further, theinternet has seen in Egypt the rise of new forms of colloquial Arabic and in Singaporethe rise of Singlish. Thus the complex relations that exist in a globalised culturaleconomy between global networks and local identities are having complex effects inDownloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 268 H. Nixonrelation to language and literacy practice. In relation to education, Warschauer supportsthe call for a pedagogy of multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; New London Group,1996), which he argues is required to address two key forms of plurality in contemporaryconditionsa plurality of media, and a plurality of dialects and languages. Educatorsneed to encourage reading, writing and communication in diverse media, genres,dialects and languages (p. 72).In the final two chapters in Part 1, Nicholas Burbules and Michael Joyce explore therhetorics of the web. Joyces chapter is both a dissertation on, and brilliant performanceof, post-hypertextual rhetorics, which needs to be read first hand. In The web as arhetorical place, Burbules develops arguments about the characteristics of hyperlinksbegun elsewhere, including in Page to Screen. He surveys five key characteristics ofhyperlinks to suggest some of the ways in which their semantic possibilities are limitedby their navigational features (p. 77): they are bi-directional, but their relation is notsymmetrical; hyperlinks are one-to-one links, and this binary form may have a limitedcapacity to represent the complexity of meanings that are multiple, multi-layered andsemantically complex; hyperlinks are static; they are author driven, operate almostinstantaneously and tend to be invisible as moments in themselves; and hyperlinks andtheir contents can be represented in different ways. An argument is made for theimportance of critically hyper-reading not only for avoiding manipulation but also forforging more dynamic and creative understandings of the material at hand (p. 77). Thesecond part of the chapter argues that the web is a rhetorical place rather than space andsuggests that this opens up several educational opportunities. These include buildingmore dynamic, open and productive hyperlinked structures; the opportunity to find andimagine within apparently binary links moments of complexity and even paradox(p. 83); and to conceive of learning in the context of the web as the achievement of acertain kind of mobilitya capacity to move from place to place, but also to create newplaces, in a kind of learning that goes beyond registering information to forming thecapacities of interpreting, evaluating and adding to what is found (p. 83). This dense andclosely argued chapter rewards re-reading and will, I am sure, productively inform manyreaders future teaching of critical approaches to reading the web.Part 2 of Silicon Literacies comprises five chapters that explore aspects of teaching,learning, technology and innovation. Jane Yellowless-Douglas and George P. Landowprovide US-based case studies of internet innovations at the University of Florida andBrown University, respectively. Landow traces the history of the development andapplication of hypertext systems in education, scholarship and the creative arts at BrownUniversity and draws from it general conclusions about initiating and supportinginnovation within universities. He concludes that the conditions that stimulate innovationare not the same as those that nurture it; that innovations still often come as a surprise;that changed attitudes are frequently more important than the original innovation; thatorganisations that wish to promote innovation must have someone to track and evaluateinnovations; and someone in a position of major authority who must understand boththe nature of the technology and at least some of the potential effects upon the institutionin regards to teaching, learning, scholarship, intellectual property, publication, institu-tional structures, and the like (p. 114). The chapter by Yellowlees-Douglas recountslessons learned from students who undertook a writing-intensive internet-only Master ofBusiness Administration. Her discussion of the successful features of online teachingenvironments emphasises the value for students of discussion, attention and feedback,and provides useful guidelines for incorporating team assignments, class meetings, andpeer critique and evaluations into online pedagogies. One of her conclusions is thatDownloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 Digital Technologies 269online courses provide valuable impetus for faculty members to try new methods ofteaching.In the final three chapters of Part 2, Chris Bigum, Ron Burnett and Douglas Kellnereach suggest ways in which teachers might become what Snyder calls in her conclusionagents of a new educational imagination (p. 179) in an increasingly mediated world inwhich communication, culture and learning intersect on a daily basis (Burnett, p. 152).In Technology, learning and visual culture, Burnett emphasises the need for interdisci-plinary debate on the role of literacy, not only at a pedagogical level, but also as abroad-based cultural activity (p. 141). In particular, he suggests a need for the disciplinesof education and communication to establish more explicit connections with a view toexploring the interconnected discourses of learning and communications. He argues fora far more integrative and holistic approach to pedagogy (p. 144), and provides anumber of guidelines that may both form and inform the development of pedagogicalstrategies in literacy education (p. 144). Burnett shares with Kellner a belief in theimportance of taking seriously the cultures in which our students participate and goes sofar as to inquire, Why do students have to learn from people who may have very littlerespect for the cultural context in which students live? (p. 142). Burnett notes that visualculturesof which the web is both a part and a foundationare very complex, addingthat it is nonetheless urgent that we develop creative tools with which to critique them.Focussing more broadly on media culture, Kellner makes a similar argument. In hisview, ICTs and new media both require and make possible a critical reconstruction ofeducation. The objective is that students learn to analyse media culture as products ofsocial production and struggle (p. 159), and learn to be critical of media representationsand discourses, but also learn to use the media as modes of self-expression and socialactivism.In Design sensibilities, schools and the new computing and communication technolo-gies (CCT), Chris Bigum argues for a fundamental rethink about the roles that schoolscan play in the new communication order. In doing so he revisits some of the issuesexplored in Teachers and Techno-literacies. For example, the latter posed the followingquestion:At what point does the value and benefit of offering students opportunities towork with new technology applications become outweighed by the risks ofapprenticing them to less than optimal versions of social practice? (p. 97)Bigum expresses a similar concern, noting that within school-based educationThere is little consideration of the possibility that existing teaching, learning,curriculum or assessment practices may not be appropriate for a world outsideschools, increasingly shaped by the use of CCTS. (p. 133)Bigum draws on the concept of design sensibilities (Schrage, 1998) to explore thelimitations and possibilities of certain ways of framing CCTs in classrooms and schools.For example, he argues that a design sensibility based on information delivery is limitedat the outset because, traditionally, schools are information consumers rather thanproducers. In contrast, Bigum explores the potential of a design sensibility that empha-sises the impact that digital technologies are having, and will continue to have, on therelationships between people and between people and organisations. Thinking about ICTin schools in terms of relationshipsshifts the focus from the technology per se and problems of how best to integrateCCTs into the curriculum towards schools as social organisations, their internalDownloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 270 H. Nixonrelationships and those with the local community, government and otherschools. In effect, the focus shifts from the question, What on earth do we dowith this new technology? to What kinds of relationships do we want to havewith the world beyond our boundaries? (p. 136).The chapter concludes with what Bigum describes as a preliminary account of the earlyexploration by schools of ideas about how they might operate as and within communitiesthat are in the business of developing knowledge and expertise about themselves. This isa very challenging concept because it requires schools to move from the relatively safe,pretend space of conventional curriculum to doing work that is judged by externalgroups as useful and valuable (p. 137). This is precisely the kind of shift and designsensibility advocated, but rarely found in schools, by the authors of Teachers andTechno-literacies. Bigum is quick to point out that this avenue of development in schoolsis exploratory. Nonetheless, the school he describes is taking steps to ensure that theschool can more fully engage with local community needs and interests. Students andstaff now employ digital and video cameras to do their work, the end result of which isstudent production of knowledge products that are directed at audiences beyond theschool. Bigum sketches the potential for schools to become systematic researchers aboutthings that matter to their communities, with the potentialif this work is takenseriouslyfor schools to form new kinds of relationships with the local community, andthus to take on new roles as knowledge producers within the new communication order.However, he does not underestimate potential difficulties of achieving such outcomes,not the least of which is the task of remaking schools in the eyes of the community.Both Teachers and Techno-literacies and Silicon Literacies make important and challengingcontributions to the field of literacytechnology studies. Each book provokes anewimportant questions that bear repeating. Neither book is afraid to confront some of themore complex issues that accompany the move to integrate computers into the curricu-lum. Neither book shies away from politically unpopular views. They emphasise, forexample, the resource-intensive and demanding nature of online education and the factthat educators and researchers are still not fully literate in the use of computers, and theynote the enduring educational and social issues to do with fair and reasonable forms ofaccess and equity that accompany the widespread take-up of ICTs. Finally, both booksargue that for literacy teaching and learning to be embedded in contexts of practice thatare meaningful to students, education will need to take very seriously many forms ofpractice that have been considered non-conventional for education. These includeelements of youth culture, leisure and recreation pursuits, as well as practices associatedwith life in the home where young people interact with a range of mature uses oftechnologies and information with friends or by observing and interacting with oldersiblings and adults (Lankshear & Snyder with Green, p. 153). In short, if literacyeducation is to enter a new era in response to changing literacies associated with digitaltechnologies, the field needs more books like these.Correspondence: Helen Nixon, Centre for Studies in Literacy, Policy and Learning Cultures,University of South Australia, Holbrooks Road, Underdale, South Australia 5032,Australia. Email: Helen.Nixon@unisa.edu.auREFERENCESBIGUM, C. & GREEN, B. (1993) Technologising literacy: or, interrupting the dream of reason, in: A. LUKE &P. GILBERT (Eds) Literacy in Contexts: Australian perspectives and issues (Sydney, Allen & Unwin).Downloaded by [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] at 04:01 05 October 2014 Digital Technologies 271BIGUM, C. & GREEN, B. (1995) Managing Machines? Educational administration and information technology (Geelong,Victoria, Deakin University Press).COMBER, B. & GREEN, B. (1999) More than just literacy? The information technology, literacy and educationaldisadvantage research and development project. 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