All Blog Posts Tagged 'literacy' (5)

Raising a Digital Native

In recent months I've been particularly intrigued by early literacy practices and how these are affected by ICTs, especially by some of our youngest learners. I'm the proud father of a six month old, and I've had the privilege of watching him interact with the signs, symbols and systems that make up the connections and communication systems in our household and community. My Wife and I are diligent in trying to use sign language to communicate with him to help him express himself...even as…


Added by Ian O'Byrne on December 29, 2010 at 11:55am — 2 Comments

Creating and Curating Your Online Brand

Recently I spent some time looking at the materials I presented at the NLI last summer in Cambridge and I started thinking about what I would possibly present if I had the privilege to work at the next edition of the NLI. I would still run sessions on visual walkthroughs or screen-capture tutorials to use with students and staff. One area that really needs to be addressed, especially with those of us that are frequently online is managing our online identity...and possibly… Continue

Added by Ian O'Byrne on December 8, 2010 at 2:37pm — No Comments

What to think...while critically thinking online

In our research in online reading comprehension, we often highlight the five skills we see being used as students read online: questioning, locating, synthesizing, evaluating, and communicating. Each of these skills has their own issues as students move online to encounter the multitude of texts that make up the online reading experience. In looking at critical evaluation specifically, I view this as being a situated experience that draws upon two major constructs: credibility and relevance.… Continue

Added by Ian O'Byrne on November 10, 2010 at 1:30pm — No Comments

What is New Literacies?

Here with the New Literacies Collaborative, we frequently use the term new literacies and at many talks, presentations and conferences new literacies is added into a title or abstract...but what does New Literacies actually mean?

For a class on new literacies that I teach here at the University of Connecticut I start the course by having the students answer a very simple question: "What is New Literacies?" This definition is collaboratively…

Added by Ian O'Byrne on October 13, 2010 at 9:30am — 3 Comments

A media lieracy lesson

Clay Burell's blog post "The New York Times is Always Right" points to how even news sources of great stature slant the news depending on what country the story is about.

Added by Jim Walker on July 1, 2010 at 6:49am — No Comments


NLC Salon

You can follow us on Twitter at newlit. Post your tweet to @newlit.
Media Musings: Record and upload your musings about new literacies on our You Tube Channel NLC on You Tube Ning Networking: Share your ideas about new literacies on our Ning NLC Blogs NLC Forum

New Literacies Institute

New Literacies Teacher Leader Institute 2010 in Cambridge, MA. See work from the Institute wiki at

Also see our archived NLI from 2009 at The New Literacies Teacher Leader Institute 2009 Check out the NLI on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube

NLC on Facebook

The New Literacies Collaborative is now on Facebook


The New Literacies Collaborative (NLC) is a multidisciplinary team of scholars and educators who promote teaching, learning, research, professional development, and global connections around new literacies. New literacies emerge from the theoretical and practical intersection of literacy, evolving technologies, and media.

Learn Digital History Blog

Teaching about Historical Reconstructions using the Vail Telegraph Key

The reconstruction of historical inventions can provide a powerful context for students to explore how inventions affect society. In fact, the social impact of the invention of the telegraph ripples through to today. It set the stage for the invention of other communications technologies such as radio, television, and the Internet. The ability to send messages across wires in a fraction of the time humans were accustomed had a profound impact on society. Rossiter Johnson captured the spirit of that change in an 1882 poem written in tribute Morse and the telegraph. The poem describes limits of humans imposed by nature, but imagines that with the invention of the telegraph those limitations begin to fade away.

But one morning he made him a slender wire,
  As an artist’s vision took life and form,
While he drew from heaven the strange fierce fire
  That reddens the edge of the midnight storm;
And he carried it over the Mountain’s crest,
And dropped it into the Ocean’s breast;
And Science proclaimed, from shore to shore,
That Time and Space ruled man no more.

Students often have myopic views about how technologies impact their own lives. While it is true that students today seem to live in a constant state of ‘revolution’ regarding new technologies, an understanding of history can temper our enthusiasms. By studying records and relics from the past, such as Johnson’s poem, students can build up a long view of technological innovation and understand how the telegraph fits in that history.

Students can also use these experiences to explore important historical skills related to cause and effect. A reconstruction of the Vail telegraph key provides students with an opportunity to examine the development of scientific knowledge and challenge the narrowly constructed textbook history of the telegraph.

The history of the telegraph is typically transmitted to students as a neat and tidy story about Samuel Morse and the 1844 transmission from Baltimore to Washington DC of the message “What hath God wrought?” But, history is never so simple. Behind the story of Morse is the complex history of the invention of the telegraph, and that story is impossible to tell with Alfred Vail.

A social studies activity exploring this complicated history might begin with the simple question – Who was on the other end of the message sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844? Of course, it was Alfred Vail. From there, students might explore Vail’s 1845 book length survey of the history of the telegraph, The American Electro Magnetic Telegraph: With the Reports of Congress, and a Description of all Telegraphs Known, Employing Electricity or Galvanism.  The book, which has three parts, includes a detailed description of the telegraph system developed by Vail and Morse; letters, reports, and other correspondences about the development of the telegraph system; and a contemporary history of the telegraph. Students can analyze this source to develop questions for inquiry about the development of the telegraph in the 1830s and 1840s.

From Hathi trust and Harvard Library at

The Lincoln Telegram project provides another avenue for exploring the newly invented telegraph and, specifically, how it affected the course of the Civil War and its participants.

The Lincoln Telegrams Project

The Lincoln Telegrams project ( includes digital versions and transcriptions of 354 telegram memos written by Lincoln from March 10, 1864 to his death in April of 1865.  The telegram memos function as source material for helping students and teachers understand how to analyze historical sources using the Hicks, Doolittle, and Ewing’s SCIM-C method ( Direct access to the telegrams, either via the web or through an iPad app with the same content, allows students to explore the historical context and follow the ways in which the telegraph affected communications during that era.

© 2015   Created by John Lee.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service