Some of the stops on my research path to understanding more about Transliteracy this week:

And, finally, I felt like I hit the jackpot of truly valuable information when I found Lane Wilkinson’s presentations and blog posts documenting his understanding of transliteracy and the essential differences between information literacy and transliteracy, including:

  • His view of transliteracy in a blog post entitled “Literacy Sucks”: link.
  • Further thoughts and very helpful revision to his Literacy diagram in another blog post entitled “Reorganizing Literacy”: link.
  • And a Slideshare of and comments on a presentation entitled “Skills That Transfer” delivered at the ACRL/NY 2011 Symposium: link.

The results of my research and learning process:

  • A VoiceThread in which I explained my understanding/definition of transliteracy: link.
  • Seeing transliteracy ideas in my personal Internet browsing over the last couple of days:
    • In an interview with Kori Schulman, President Obama’s Director of Online Engagement: link.
    • With an animated summary of Daniel Pink’s Drive: link.
    • Checking out another animation tool, PowToon: link.
    • And, in the Nokia advertisement I critiqued here: link.
  • And heaps of ideas and possibilities and dreams running through my head!

My musings…

Pretty early on in my research, I knew that I needed to figure out the difference between Information Literacy and Transliteracy.  I could tell that they were two different things and, yet, I could not define those differences.  Lane Wilkinson’s diagram was a godsend.

Image Credit: Lane Wilkinson

I used his definition of transliteracy as the communicative side of literacy by means of print, with signs, visually, with computers, and digitally as my guide for my “Defining Transliteracy” VoiceThread.

But that still wasn’t enough…or quite right.  And the first line of my VoiceThread speaks to this.  I start with, “So you can read and write.  But are you really literate?”  In the same way that the simple ability to read or write is not the same as being literate in the truest sense of the word, the ability to use print, signs, visuals, computers, and digital tools does not mean that a person is transliterate.

I think we need to be looking to educate, to guide, to help students achieve fluency as they transfer information between mediums.

Image Credit: Christian Briggs

Christian Briggs on his post entitled “The Difference Between Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency” on his website SociaLens talks about this in terms of digital fluency but I think his description very much applies to transliterate fluency as well.  He writes,

“Note that a literate person is perfectly capable of using the tools. They know how to use them and what to do with them, but the outcome is less likely to match their intention. It is not until that person reaches a level of fluency, however, that they are comfortable with when to use the tools to achieve the desired outcome, and even why the tools they are using are likely to have the desired outcome at all.”

When our students reach a level of fluency on the communicative side of Wilkinson’s diagram, they can ingest information in one medium, critically choose which medium to transfer it to in order to achieve the desired outcome, and then capably and clearly present that information in the new medium.  That’s truest sense of transliteracy…transfluency.


Briggs, Christian. “The Difference Between Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency.” SociaLens Blog. N.p., 5 Feb. 2011. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.

Wilkinson, Lane. “Reorganizing Literacy.” Sense and Reference. N.p., 19 Sept. 2011. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.


About msbecs

An incomplete but alphabetical list: Believer. Daughter. Friend. Learner. Librarian. Sister. TCK. Teacher. YA Literature Devotee.

Posted on 02.18.2013, in FPU, In the Library and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for the trackback; glad to be of service!

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