The “New” Digital Literacy?

In this post, I’m going to write about a couple of my thoughts regarding the schools, districts, and even entire school systems removing student access to classroom technology based on the idea that tech in the classroom is “too distracting” for students and that tech often undercuts their ability to comprehend texts.

Here is a link to a recent article discussing this trend.

On the one hand, the school leaders know their students and should be in a position to figure out what’s best for them. On the other hand, I wonder how much time went into professional development on digital classroom management, and some of the strategies that help both teachers and students take advantage of what tech has to offer, while keeping tech use in perspective.

Another set of thoughts that I have on this comes from a 2015 study I recently read that suggests that those of us leading and supporting 1:1 initiatives should rethink what we know about K-12 reading and literacy in the era of 1:1 classrooms. Specifically, this study suggested that our view of literacy should be changing and evolving as technology evolves. These researchers suggest that effective reading in an era of online texts involves a highly nuanced mix of traditional/offline comprehension strategies along with comprehension strategies supporting online texts.

In fact, they posit that five very specific digital “literacies” can benefit students reading online texts:

  1. Reading to Define Important Questions – reading initiated by questions (a lot of internet reading).
  2. Reading to Locate Information Online – the ability to use the features built into internet browsers and e-books (such as keyword searching) of online texts (these often differ from offline texts).
  3. Reading to Critically Evaluate Online Information – Online reading can present students with the challenges of synthesizing information presented in different formats.
  4. Reading to Synthesize Online Information.
  5. Reading and Writing to Communicate About Online Information.

What do you all think? Have you worked in a setting where students benefited from going back to all or largely print-based textbooks? Feel free to share your perspective here.

Reference: Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2015). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly50(1), 37-59.

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