Written by: Berniece Gowan
In 140 characters or less we at WriteForward develop, encourage, and maintain a social-media community presence. We generate information that we think will be of interest and value to others and we forward/repost information that comes to us. I think of this “twitter” as postcards that let our virtual community know where we are, what we’re interested in, what we’re celebrating, and what we care about and/or find challenging. I imagine each of us looking up from our task and, just for that moment, remembering the importance of our own context, our larger community, and then taking time to write each other a quick note.
WriteForward (WF) does not have rock star status in the social media world but in the past four months we have generated over sixty twitter “postcards,” and retweeted over a hundred. We have tweeted about new initiatives in literacy coalitions across the country and celebrated the many remarkable adult learners who have been nominated by literacy programs and recognized by the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC). We have focused on the very important role that publishers and clearing houses like The Healthy Aboriginal Network, Grass Roots Press, Windsound Learning, and Ningwakwe Press have in providing high-quality, culturally relevant literacy resources and materials. We have participated in the swirl of conversation about PIAAC, about definitions of literacy and essential skills, and about new and renewed policy about adult learning.
We have shared our enthusiasm for learner retreats, learning communities, practitioner symposiums, Aboriginal conferences, and other unique training and professional development opportunities. I’ve sent out posts about Dr. Jenny Horsman’s work on the impact of violence on learning, and from other sources about poverty, employment statistics, new funding for apprenticeship programs, rural initiatives, literacy and justice, isolation, and barriers to learning.
We have tweeted and retweeted about numeracy, financial literacy, writing, reading, and that bundle we know as essential skills. There have been links to writing assessment tools and writing resources from across Canada and around the world.
What does all of this have to do with the WriteForward project, you might ask? WriteForward is a nationally (Office of Literacy and Essential Skills) funded project that will create a low-writing-literacy assessment tool for English-speaking adults. The assessment will be grounded in the experience of adult learners who are improving their writing skills and strategies and in the practice of the tutors and practitioners who are working with them. This tool will reflect the writing needs across the contexts (domains) of home/community/work and as such will intentionally represent a learner/student community that lives and works and learns within the complex world we all inhabit.
Twitter postcards remind us that there is a lot of good work going on, that learning is life long and life wide, that we live in a complex and dynamic world, and that building on other tools and resources and identifying and addressing gaps will benefit each of our own work and learning.
I appreciate hearing from you, so keep those postcards coming.
Published November 15, 2013