Literacy Debate

R U Really Reading

Is this reading?

Literacies digital or otherwise

The decline of reading

Connecting the digital dots

Digital Age Literacy

Inanimate Alice - Multimedia Literacy

The New Reader


Schools, for the most part, promote "old" print-based literacies in instruction, curriculum content, and assessment (O'Brien & Scharber, 2008). However, once the school day is over, youth gravitate to and use "new" digital literacies. Young people are engaging in different literacy practices inside school time to those practiced outside school.

There seem to be few ways of escaping the fact that we are living through a moment in which literacy practices are being fundamentally altered (Williams, 2008). Such changes, Williams suggests, are in some ways quite heartening as today's online technologies have young people reading and writing far more than they were 20 years or even a decade ago. At the same time, the online world in which they read and write is a fast, multitasking, multi-literate world that seems disconcerting and overwhelming to many teachers and parents. Like Williams, I believe that regardless of our personal feelings toward online communication, we must think seriously about how identity figures in the literacy practices of students. Many students spend much more time reading and writing online than they do in the classroom. The most important thing we can do is talk with our students about how and why they read and write online.

Brass (2008) demonstrates how increasing students' opportunities to draw upon their local knowledge can facilitate sophisticated textual work, as well as “problematise” what counts as literacy achievement in secondary schools. It appears that schools construct literacy achievement around a limited array of literacy practices that may not encourage participation and often do not connect with adolescents practices outside of school.

Brass, J. J. 2008. Local knowledge and digital movie composing in an after-school literacy program.(Report). Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 51(6), 464(410).

O'Brien, D. & Scharber, C. 2008. Digital literacies go to school: potholes and possibilities.(Digital Literacies)(Report). Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(1), 66(63).

Williams, B. T. 2008. "Tomorrow will not be like today": literacy and identity in a world of multiliteracies.(LITERACY & IDENTITY). Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 51(8), 682(685).