Emergent Literacy

There’s been a lot written and spoken recently about the concept of ‘digital literacy’ – a response to the realisation that young people growing up in an increasingly digital world are needing to develop a range of skills and understandings for dealing with this form of media, and that this is somehow different to the traditional view of literacy as we have come to think of it in a print-dominated world.

A new white paper from the Pearson Foundation makes a useful contribution to this discussion, with some well-researched comments on the impact of a range of technologies, including television, computers, digitised toys, the internet and cell phones on the development of what they are calling emergent literacy.

The following quote sums up the view of digital literacy that the authors have…

Young children immersed in digital media opportunities will develop some degree of digital literacy, that is, the ability to use digital media for speaking, listening, reading, and writing purposes. But digital literacy includes not only traditional emergent literacy skills like reading and writing, but also the psycho-motor skills needed for keyboarding and cell phone use and the problem-solving skills needed for navigating Google sites and using iPhone apps. We can expect that, as literacy skills develop, so will skills in digital literacy, especially as young children become more comfortable using digital media as tools.

The research reveals that:

  • Opportunities to engage with digital media increasingly prevail through the use of mobile devices—and in developing countries access to mobile devices is more commonplace than access to other technologies
  • Developmental milestones are changing as young people’s access to mobile and digital technology grows.
  • Digital media positively impacts children’s opinion of learning, providing engagement opportunities not always seen with print materials.

This study also confirms the need to continue delivering educational programs to teachers and children who otherwise would not have access to these kinds of educational opportunities.

The report can be downloaded here (641Kb PDF)

Leave a Reply