Impact of technology on literacy


Just received a link to this post from Jedd and felt compelled to reference it here…

It comes at a very useful time as I spent part of today discussing the whole notion of literacy and technology with a colleague in Wellington (on Skype) ahead of a conference there in a few weeks.

The post is about Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University who collected 14,672 student writing samples—everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions from 2001 to 2006.

Far from finding that technology is having a negative impact on literacy she found the opposite, stating that young people today write far more than any generation before them.The post quotes:

“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,” she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.

Read the rest yourself here.

4 thoughts on “Impact of technology on literacy

  1. Having just undertaken some university post grad study looking at literacy and the impact of new literacies on reading and writing, all the research supports Lunsford’s findings. The view being that reading and writing have become even more important than they have in the past – the way carried out has altered. And literacy not just text but the visual, gestural, images, space and sound and no longer just a singular, conventional view of it as the print mode. Not only has technology changed the way we view literacy, but the ethos has changed too – not the individual, ‘expert’ but all as holders and sharers of knowledge. ie. the way blogs etc are and can be added to and expanded and can go into different directions than maybe first recorders intentions. But that is what it is about.
    I like this quote from the MoE NZ Curriculum (p 36)…”schools should explore not only how ICT can supplement tradtional ways of teaching but also how it can open up new and different ways of learning”. Wow ! What an invitation to do whatever !
    This I think is the challenge for us as teachers and educationalists – are we really looking at new ways, or are we just doing ‘old’ via electronic means ?

  2. Hi Tracy
    thanks for taking the time to comment here – love your challenging question at the end! I appreciate your summary of what you’ve found through your own research – certainly supports the direction that the MoE’s multi-literacies working group was pursuing while it existed.

  3. Hi Derek,

    Thanks for posting this link. I like Tracey’s comment too.

    I’m interested, as a contributing illustrator and designer of mainly print based educational materials, in how technology challenges our traditional notions of publishing and the contributor/publishers roles as they stand today. How must educational publishing (as one method of delivery) change to accommodate consumer driven, shared and collaborative content development and what will that mean for todays writers and illustrators who work in this field ?

    For literacy to be taught in a broader sense and for it to go beyond a print or text modus, I think content development experts must evolve further (in order to remain relevant) and become device – INdependent… (to quote Bruce Mau’s manifesto – creativity is not device-dependent) – in other words agile creatives. The trick will be in learning how.

  4. This is timely for me as I was hearing from team members last night after school about how MUCH quality writing they are seeing their students doing since they have been publishing it online. And this is not including the ‘new’ forms of literacy Tracy and Derek were discussing above. They are doing plenty of that too, particularly digital storytelling. But the teachers were talking about students who have on average published 40 pieces of writing this year already on their blogs and not all of it it being done at school. Our students don’t have a lot of home access to the internet so they are using public libraries and other places to go to and write. They certainly weren’t doing that when it was in an exercise book for an audience of one red pen!

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