The Salty Chip Blog

A social space to learn more about the Canadian Multiliteracies Collaborative


The secret of ‘Will’ in new times: The affordances of a cloud curriculum.

In press!

The Secret of ‘Will’ in new times: The affordances of a cloud curriculum.

Hibbert, K.

One of outcomes of a ‘knowledge economy’ and its corresponding surveillance mechanisms is the competitive anxiety it spawns amongst governments intent on seeing their schools outperform the others on international testing regimes. The challenge is figuring out how to integrate accountability without systematically dismantling the very essence of teaching and learning. Teachers largely enact the culture they live, and they have been living in a culture in which “teacher proof” materials proliferate, and curricular prescription abounds (Lofty, 2006). The literature on Governmentality offers us one way to talk about this phenomenon. Yet within governmentality, teachers have both the privilege and the responsibility to practice freedom. How might we break away from reductionist modes of assessment and capture learning in situ? How might experiences from interdisciplinary educational settings inform thinking about what we do in schools? How might changing the way teachers and students interact with one another (space, resources, form) translate teaching and learning? Actor network theory helps explain how participation in activities or networks mobilizes practices in particular ways. In this chapter, I explore the notion of freedom in the context of a nascent ‘cloud curriculum’ for teaching Shakespeare, leveraging multimodal affordances made visible through the efforts of New Literacy scholars.

In Hamilton, M., Heydon, R., Hibbert, K. and Stooke, R. (Eds)., Negotiating spaces for literacy: Multimodality and governmentality. London, UK: Bloomsbury.

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Negotiating spaces for literacy: Multimodality and governmentality

In Press!

Hamilton, M., Heydon, R., Hibbert, K. and Stooke, R. (Eds)., Negotiating spaces for literacy: Multimodality and governmentality. London, UK: Bloomsbury.

This volume addresses two strong currents that are sweeping through the contemporary educational field. The first is the opening up of possibilities for multimodal communication as a result of developments in digital technologies and the sensitivity to multiliteracies. The second is the increasing “governing” of their teaching and the imposition of inappropriate testing regimes, with the resulting narrowing of opportunities for diverse expressions of literacy; curricular and pedagogical practices are being pulled out of alignment with the everyday informal practices and the interests of teachers and learners within education.

Bringing together an international team of scholars to examine the tensions and struggles that result from the current educational climate, the book provides a much-needed discussion of the intersection of technologies of literacies, education and self. It does so through diverse approaches, including philosophical, theoretical and methodological treatments of multimodality and governmentality, and a range of literacies – early years, primary, workplace, digital, middle, secondary school, indigenous, adult and place. With a range of examples throughout education and in different parts of the world, the book allows readers to explore a range of multimodal practices and the ways in which governmentality plays out across domains.


“In Negotiating Spaces for Literacy Learning an all-star cast discusses the tensions between liberation and control in the digital age. This is the deepest discussion of multimodality and multiliteracies to date.” –  James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies and Regents’ Professor, Arizona State University, USA
Negotiating Spaces for Literacy Learning is an original book that investigates the intersection of technologies of literacies, education, and the self. Fully engaged with the pressures and struggles of education, and the ways in which its regulatory gaze is unfolding across an international landscape of education, the authors combine governmentality and multimodal theories in exciting ways to point to the potentials of expanding communicational repertoires, identity options and literacy for action in an increasingly constrained environment.” –  Carey Jewitt, Professor of Technology and Learning, Institute of Education, University College London, UK

“Deeply political and richly illustrated across different populations and varied settings, Negotiating Spaces for Literacy Learning is an engaging collection that features cutting-edge research by international scholars. By pushing and expanding fields in literacy studies like multimodality, the editors and chapter authors couple multimodal theory with theoretical frameworks like actor network theory to complicate the contemporary field of literacy education. Read this edited book and you will appreciate how much the field of multimodality and multiliteracies has moved on.” –  Jennifer Rowsell, Canada Research Chair, Brock University, Canada

“This thought-provoking book draws together a diverse group of international scholars who explore, question, critique and challenge thinking and practices relating to multimodality and governmentality. In foregrounding contradictory discourses, Negotiating Spaces for Literacy Learning encourages readers to move beyond accepting the taken-for-granted, and offers multiple ways of “thinking otherwise” about literacy education. It prompts deep thinking and challenges readers to think about literacy futures.” –  Robyn Henderson, Associate Professor of Literacies Education, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Negotiating Spaces for Literacy Learning is a refreshing analysis of an ‘unholy alliance’: the learning potential of digital communication and the restrictive nature of educational institutions. The chapters in this edited book explore the tension between multimodality and governance. Contradictions between everyday communication practices and educational standards have been obvious for some time. This book demonstrates the reality of that contradiction but rather than maintain polarization it offers new effective spaces and agency for literacy learning in the 21st century.
The chapters provide insights from international researchers across all spheres of education (pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary, and adult and community education) as the authors document examples of learning within multimodal frameworks in their specific domain. Their insights demonstrate that a ‘regime change’ has already occurred in the theory and practice of literacy education. Within acknowledged complexities of assessment, accountability and governance there is the constant theme that a more creative and diverse curriculum is attainable and necessary for authentic learning.”
Maureen Walsh, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education and Arts, Australian Catholic University and Honorary Professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney

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21st Century Literacies: Research and development of a ‘cloud curriculum’

I am so excited to announce that we were the successful recipients of a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant to pursue this project over the next three years.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kathryn Hibbert
Co-Investigators: Dr. William Cope (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign); Dr. Mary Kalantzis, (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign); Dr. Sharon Rich (Nipissing University) and Dr. Jennifer Rowsell (Brock University).

Collaborators/Advisors: Dr. Jacqueline Specht (Western); Dr. Luigi Iannacci (Trent University); Dr. Rethy Chhem (CDRI, Cambodia); Dr. Robyn Henderson (University of South Queensland, Australia), Dr. Robert Martellaci (C21, MindShare), Ms Dianna Dinevski (Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning); Ms. Kim Black (Ontario Ministry of Education)

QWILL Media and Education Inc., (Ms. Lois Burdett and Mr. Andrew Lester)
Brock University, (J. Rowsell, Canada Research Chair, Multiliteracies)
Hamilton Public Library (M. Southern, Director Public Service, Partnerships and Communications)
Nipissing University,  (S. Rich), Associate VP Academic
Western University.

Support during the application provided by:
Research Assistant Dr. Elisabeth Davies, The Faculty of Education Research Office, (Karen Kueneman), Research Western, (Natalie Szudy). Thanks for your months of meetings and readings.

Summary of Proposal:
Industry Canada claims that “talented, skilled, creative people are the most critical element of a successful national economy over the long term”[1] and calls for public-private collaboration to mobilize effective innovation that can make a difference in people’s lives. Advances in technologies and new media are revolutionizing the potential ways educators and students are able to participate in education. However educational institutions are not ‘complex adaptive systems’ (Eidelson, 1997).  Recent studies suggest that “less than half of Canadian students… only 37% … are deeply engaged in their study of school subjects” (Willms, Friesen & Milton, 2009, p. 17). The ability to respond and change is critical as we enter an unprecedented participatory culture (Rich, 2010) and schools in particular,   “cannot afford to ignore the trajectories of change” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009, p. 174). According to the Canadian Education Association, “We are at a moment when the tension that exists between the obstacles standing in the way of change, and the well-articulated visions for the future of Canadian education is at an all-time high” (2014, p. 12). Now is the time to take up the challenge in a way that engages a complex set of partners in new ways to create schools that are “energetic and accessible places for deep learning”(CEA, 2014, p. 12).

In 2009, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) was established in the United States to “serve as a catalyst to position 21st-century readiness at the centre of US Kindergarten to Grade12 (K12) education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders.”[2] The framework that emerged articulated the desired 21st century student outcomes and the interconnected learning support systems necessary to produce results. In 2012, Canada followed with its own initiative, Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation to lay a foundation for action. They ask,

What if we could create a learning model that naturally and authentically improves student achievement …and provides our youth with modern competencies and life skills needed to succeed in a future we can only imagine? What if we could offer learning experiences to our youth that ignites their creativity and engages them in their own learning? What if we could harness the digital tools of today’s world to provide higher quality learning experiences and opportunities for our children, in a more cost effective and efficient manner? And what if we could create a learning model that positions our youth for success in a global environment, while imparting within them the traditions and values we Canadians take pride in? (2012, p. 3)

This proposed project takes that call to action seriously. A preliminary public-private partnership led to the development of fluid and dynamic ‘cloud curriculum’ that seeks to actualize this ambitious agenda and serve as a ‘digital sandbox’ to help an expanded collaborative partnership learn together about what is possible in education and generate new models for curriculum. Achieving this goal requires engagement with interdisciplinary and cross-sector partners to first refine and improve curricular design and capacity and later to mobilize and evaluate the research knowledge. What we learn in this project can be adapted to curriculum design, policy development and assessment practices nationally and internationally.

Building on the preliminary partnership between Western University and QWILL Media and Education Inc., this proposal outlines the creation of a Canadian-led, international network of researchers, educators, public not-for profit and private partners interested in accelerating the research and actualization of visions of a 21st-century education.   Activities include specific research and development projects on the prototype ‘cloud curriculum’ to co-create knowledge and design and the development and growth of an international network to situate the project in the global network, and to share and mobilize the learning. Research Projects: 1) An analysis of the current design in relation to P21 and C21 visions and “Learning By Design” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2010; forthcoming); 2) piloting with educators in both school and community settings in international contexts; 3) research and development of multimodal forms of “pedagogical documentation” and assessment practices (GELP, 2014); 4) creation of a flexible design and response cycle to guide the prioritization of development; 5) working with policy makers to ensure appropriate and supportive policies are in place. Network Development:  A Canadian-led international network will be established to engage researchers, policy makers, legislators, educators, community members, parents and students interested in working through these ideas in the context of a relevant, robust and flexible curriculum project.

Interested in becoming involved? Email me  khibbert at uwo dot ca

[1] Industry Canada: Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage


The Power of Emerging Media and Technology

Dear Colleagues,

I have been invited to give a Keynote address at a Values and Leadership Conference, on the topic of “The Power of Emerging Media and Technology“.

For me, the power lies  in how teachers and students are engaging with media and technologies in service of learning. I would like to bring those stories to light in my talk, and invite you and your students to contact me and consider sending short video clips or images of what you see as the ‘powerful of emerging media and technology’ in your context. I will compile them all, and post a copy of the Keynote here after I give it, Sept. 2014. I can’t wait to see what this looks like through your eyes!

You can contact me by email at khibbert at uwo dot ca



Rethinking Rural Literacies: Transnational Perspectives

Our new book has just been released: Rethinking Rural Literacies: Transnational Perspectives edited by Bill Green (NSW,Au) and Michael Corbett (Acadia, CAN).

From McMillan:

rural lit

Linking the terms “rural” and “literacy” often conjures images of deficit and improvement. This book takes a different approach, unpacking both of these laden concepts in diverse national contexts. It explores how people in many rural places understand and experience what it means to be rural and the multiple ways that exist of being literate, including ways that are linked to and situated in a particular place and conception of that place. The chapters in this international collection investigate a wide range of theorizations of rurality and literacy; literate practices and pedagogies; questions of place, space, and sustainability; and complex representations of rurality that challenge simplistic conceptions of standardized literacy and the real-and-imagined world beyond the metropolis.

Table of Contents:

PART I: CONCEPTUALIZING RURAL LITERACIES1. Literacy, Rurality, Education: A Partial Mapping; Bill Green
2. Why not at school? Rural Literacies and the Continual Choice to Stay; Kim Donehower
3. Find Yourself in Newfoundland and Labrador: Reading Rurality as Reparation; Ursula Kelly
4. My Roots Dip Deep: Literacy Practices as Mirrors of Traditional, Modern and Postmodern Ruralities; Karen Eppley
5. Another Way to Read ‘The Rural’: A Bricolage of Maths Education; Craig Howley
6. Exploring Rurality, Teaching Literacy: How Teachers Manage a Curricular Relation to Place; Phillip Cormack
7. Rural Boys, Literacy Practice, and the Possibilities of Difference: Tales Out of School; Jo-Anne Reid
8. Reconfiguring the Communicational Landscape: Implications for Rural Literacy; Kathryn Hibbert
9. Thinking through Country: New Literacy Practices for a Sustainable World; Margaret Somerville
10. Literacy, Place-based Pedagogies and Social Justice; Lyn Kerkham and Barbara Comber
11. The Making of ‘Good-Enough’ Everyday Lives: Literacy Lessons from the Rural North of Finland; Pauliina Rautio and Maija Lanas
12. Reading Futures: Exploring Rural Students’ Literacy Practices in Neo-liberal Times; Kate Cairns
13. Mediating Plastic Literacies and Placeless Governmentalities: Returning to Corporeal Rurality; Michael Corbett and Ann Vibert


“I found a great deal to think about as a result of reading the thought-provoking essays in Rethinking Rural Literacies. The editors and contributors offer what I regard as a new space to consider where and how education occurs. I recommend this book to researchers and practitioners working in rural studies, but also those who appreciate the idea that we all teach, research and live somewhere. The essays in it are likely to inspire many new studies and new questions related to place-conscious education: in other rural contexts, ‘downtown’, by the side of the road, in high-density housing, and in relation to the place of physical location and online communities. The essays are provocative, reflexive, and truly offer a rethinking of rural literacies.” – Claudia Mitchell, James McGill Professor, McGill University, Canada, and Honorary Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Rethinking Rural Literacies makes multiple important conceptual and scholarly contributions in exploring a variety of issues that lie at the nexus of literacy, rurality and education. Green and Corbett’s volume represents an excellent and essential complement to existing work in the field.” – Kai A. Schafft, Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University, USA, and Editor, Journal of Research in Rural Education

“This collection is much needed. It will be immensely useful, bridging conceptual and actual sites and spaces with global reach but offering a respectful attention to the sometimes-forgotten literacies of the rural, locating and describing that field more clearly, and drawing on contemporary theory and practice in literacy studies.” – Kate Pahl, Reader in Literacies in Education, The University of Sheffield, UK

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