Technological advancement has given rise to a 21st Century global information environment that is characterised by dynamic possibilities for the communication of ideas.  If students are to thrive in the 21st-century culture of technology-driven automation, abundance of, and access to global information, then independent thinking and its corollary, creative thinking, hold the highest value.  To be competent and capable in the 21st century requires a completely new set of capabilities – being flexible, taking the initiative and leading when necessary, and producing something valuable and useful.  Twenty First Century literacies such as academic, critical, digital and information literacies are pivotal for students’ full civic, economic and personal participation in this information age.

The University of the Western Cape has developed a set of graduate attributes that are based on the UWC vision and mission.  This tutorial is based on six concepts that may be used to enhance such attributes.  An understanding of these concepts will mean that students develop a sense of agency in their research and practices, which opens up a pathway to lifelong learning and professional development.  The concepts enable learners to become autonomous and collaborative and active contributors to knowledge.

The tutorial also offers authentic examples which may be used to illustrate ways of applying and interpreting the various concepts.  These examples are used to show learners how to:

  • actively seek out alternative points of view (contextually engaged and knowledgeable),
  • discern different levels of authority and critique information (critically and relevantly literate),
  • convert problems into answerable research questions (becoming research and inquiry focused),
  • understand how best to produce and share multimodal texts for maximal impact (becoming autonomous and collaborative and skilled communicators)

It is envisaged that 21st Century Literacies be embedded in teaching and learning at UWC.  The Library hopes that this tutorial will facilitate further collaboration with academic teachers for this vision to be realised.