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Education, Digitization and Literacy Training: A Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspective

Educational Philosophy and Theory Volume 48, Number 6, ISSN 0013-1857


In this article, I deal with the transition from traditional "school" forms of instruction to educational processes that are fully mediated by digital technologies. Against the background of the idea the very institution "school" is closely linked to the invention of the alphabetic writing system and to the need of initiating new generations into a literate culture, I focus on the issue of literacy training. I argue that with the digitization of education, a fundamental transition takes place regarding what it means to be literate, but also what it means to educate and to be educated. I do so by developing a "techno-somatic" approach, which means that I look at the use of concrete instructional technologies, and the bodily disciplines that are involved. I set out a double comparison in which I contrast existing, "traditional" ways of learning how to read/write with the way in which literacy training looked like before the nineteenth century, on the one hand, and with the initiation into literacy in the Chinese/Japanese language, on the other hand. I argue that these comparisons shed light on the differences between traditional and digital literacy. More precisely, I show that in each case, a different relation toward what it means to produce script is involved. As such, both forms of literacy go together with different spaces of experience and senses of being-able, and therefore with altogether different ideas of what education is all about.


Vlieghe, J. (2016). Education, Digitization and Literacy Training: A Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspective. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 48(6), 549-562. Retrieved February 6, 2023 from .

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