What is Transliteracy?

ImageTransliteracy is a new word for me.  I am developing my understanding of transliteracy and how education is evolving in response to rapid developments in technology.  Transliteracy is defined as “… the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” (Thomas et al., 2007).  Transliteracy is not just about digital literacy; it is all the ways that we communicate. 

So why transliteracy versus literacy?  “Modern literacy has always meant being able to both read and write narrative in the media forms of the day, whatever they may be. Just being able to read is not sufficient.” (Ohler, 2009, p. 8).  So what does it mean to be literate now?  In the context of this blog, I am practicing the skills needed to synthesize and clearly express my thoughts and reflections, construct meaning from reading others work, and edit my work.

One thing is clear – literacies are emerging at an incredible rate.  “This puts literacy in what one can call a “time-frame” – the meaning of literacy changes as means of communication change over time – being literate at the turn of the 19th century had different implications than it has now.” (Mifsud, 2005, p. 133).  Education is notorious for being slow to respond to change.  How then do educators respond in a timely fashion while continuing to value reading and writing?

As educators, we are striving to develop student’s abilities to apply essential literacies with proficiency.  The quality of the communication is dependent on how well students learn to blend and apply these literacies.  “However, a well-rounded approach to the new media collage requires blending a number of literacies, both traditional and emerging, into a cohesive narrative.” (Ohler, 2009, p. 10). 

“The essential idea here is that transliteracy is concerned with mapping meaning across different media and not with developing particular literacies about various media. ” (Ipri, 2010, p. 532).   My next step is to consciously make connections with transliteracy, learner outcomes and the digital world my students live in. 


Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567. Retrieved from 


Mifsud, L., (2005). What counts as digital literacy: Experiences from a seventh grade classroom in Norway. Retrieved from http://www.socialscience.t-mobile.hu/dok/9_Mifsud.pdf

Ohler, J. (2009) Orchestrating the media collage. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar09/vol66/num06/Orchestrating-the-Media-Collage.aspx

Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing Divides. First Monday, Vol.12 (12). Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2060/1908