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He rings me and that – we’re just good mates. ’ She thought that she would carry on writing letters when he was released from prison: ‘We don’t really talk – we just write letters. ’ She had kept this diary for about two years and frequently read back through it. For Nadine the value was partly aesthetic and the appearance of her writing was important to her. ’ She kept her wage slips and other documents in a shoebox under her bed, a system of organisation copied from her father. Organising life and getting things done Students organised different aspects of their lives in diverse ways using a range of technologies.

They were rarely seen without mobile phones; some college libraries struggled to police the amount of personal emails written and sent during college time, and MSN messenger was banned from some college computers. Students also wrote letters and notes as ongoing communications with family and friends. Texting: ‘it’s shorter and it’s quicker’ Gina is typical of many of the students when she observes: ‘I use my phone a lot – I text people, they text me – it’s a lot of reading. ’ Students often did not consider their use of the mobile phone to be reading and writing, but this textual communication is a ubiquitous literacy practice.

We will elaborate on the distinction and relationship between literacy events and literacy practices in Chapter 3. Literacy studies embraces the forms of reading and writing associated with screen technologies as well as those of the page. The increasing use of information and communication technologies brings with it both challenges and possibilities of combining icons/pictures with words and representing them in different ways, often combining different modes of communication. Thus digital literacy, multimodality (Kress 2003) and multiliteracies (New London Group 1996; Cope and Kalantzis 2000) have emerged as important concepts in understanding new forms of literacy.

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