Chapter Four: 1971-1980
By the 1980s most participants had seen computers, however their experiences with and knowledge of electronic literacies differed. This generation was also the first to exhibit the unique ability to meld technology uses for work, school, and leisure, which was not characteristic of previous generations. Many participants remember seeing technologies introduced in their favorite movies and other popular media, such as the use of a cell phone in the blockbuster Pretty Woman.
Their stories expand the characteristics of four points: micro-tear zone psychology, home literacy zones, transport sponsorship, and school gateways. Transport sponsorship is an important concept introduced in this chapter because participants often needed someone to take them to a place where they could access books or computers. As computers became more accessible in home environments, so did home literacy zones where literacy practices were honed and expanded. Despite the presence of computers in the home, most participants revealed that their first experiences with computers were at schools, however most of them attested to self-sponsoring (learning the functions of the computer on their own). In addition, gender bias seems to have been somewhat eradicated as women began to occupy roles that had been previously associated with men during this time. Interestingly, members of this generation all described an intense motivation to succeed, and many of them told stories of great perseverance through positive and negative micro-tear zones in order to do so.
In this chapter, Scenters-Zapico notes the far-reaching effects the psychology of the micro-tear zones can have on learners. He rightly notes that the ways in which parents and teachers respond to learners can cause long-lasting positive or negative reactions to learning experiences. However, by creating positive micro-tear zones for young learners we can as Scenter-Zapico states, “create motivated, lifelong learners capable of adapting and embracing quick-paced electronic literacies” (149).
Also noted is that access to technological gateways became increasingly important for participants as a way to acquire new electronic literacies. This is an important concept for educators to understand when considering electronic assignments, because often times we do not pay attention to those students who while they may have access to technologies, are in need of transport sponsors to get them to schools, libraries, or friends’ homes to complete homework. If we are not fully aware of these issues we risk increasing the divide between those that have access to technologies in their homes and those that do not.