Digital Literacies in School

Engaging and motivating students

What are Digital Literacies?

When describing digital literacies terms such as "digital media", "new literacies", "new technologies", and "mulitmodal literacy" may be used. Digital literacies are things that digitally literate people produce, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts. They are also activities that digitally literate people can engage in such as social networking, webpage creation and digital storytelling. Students can use these technologies to find, evaluate, create, collaborate, analyze, and communicate information. Digital literacies are multimodal; where students can easily switch from one mode of communication to another. This means that a student might change from text-based reading, to watching a video, to listening to a podcast all within several minutes. Digital literacies are constantly changing and evolving as technology advances. Overall, digital literacies are new ways of doing things and new ways of creating and working with texts.

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How can they be used in the classroom?

We need to make sense of 21st century literacies and find ways to blend important literacies of the past, present, and future. Using digital literacies in the classroom can be really motivating and engaging for students. They can also help improve students' performance, especially learners who are struggling to read and write with more traditional forms of print. They can effectively be used to engage students in fluency practice, reading comprehension, composing, and multimedia learning activities.
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Integrating Digital Literacies into the Classroom

To promote engagement and motivation, educators need to carefully look at the interests of their students and take into account how their students are using digital literacies outside of school. Teachers should focus on their students’ experiences outside of school, such as in their home and their community. Literacy practices that a school or teacher may see as important may be very different from what the students see as important and interesting. It might be beneficial to ask students what they use at home, what they like to use, and how they learned to use them?
Digital Literacy-Using Technology in the Classroom

What Can Teachers Do?

Teachers in the 21st century have responsibility to prepare students to use technology and digital tools to support their learning. In order to meet this challenge, teachers must focus on the new literacies required by new technologies. Students need to be taught a new set of skills that teaches them to learn how to navigate through nonlinear text, repeatedly evaluate sources, infer meaning, and use many different features in order to compose one united message. Teachers must find ways and design programs to keep up with these demands in order to deliver effective literacy programs
Nichole Pinkard on Digital Literacy (Big Thinkers Series)

Lesson and Strategy Ideas

Click here to view a lesson using e-Book readers to enhance the reading experience
Click here to see a lesson that uses microblogging and social networking to explore characterization and style
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More Useful Resouces

Technology is constantly advancing and teachers need to work together to keep up with all of the new literacies. Here are some great resources you can look through to help you learn more about digital literacies. They will also help you learn how to incorporate them into your classroom to promote motivation and engagement in your students.
Several articles and websites to help you learn about and use digital literacy in the classroom:

Other scholarly articles that may help you learn more:

Beach, R. (2012). Constructing digital learning commons in the literacy classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(5), 448-451. doi:10.1002/JAAL.00054

Bomer, R., &Maloch, B. (2012). Diverse local literacies and standardizing policies. Language Arts, 90(1), 44-49.

Bomer, R., Zoch, M. P., David, A. D., & Ok, H. (2010). New literacies in the material world. Language Arts, 88(1), 9-19.

Bromley, K. (2012). Using smartphones to supplement classroom reading. Reading Teacher, 66(4), 340-344. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01130

Gormley, K., & McDermott, P. (2013). Integrating the digital literacies into an after-school program: a structural analysis of teachers' lessons. Language and Literacy Spectrum, 23, 20-33

Honan, E. (2012). 'A whole new literacy': teachers' understanding of students' digital learning at home. Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 35(1), 82-98.

Husbye, N. E. (2012). Critical lessons and playful literacies: digital media in PK-2 classrooms. Language Arts, 90(2), 82-92.

Lacina, J., & Griffith, R. (2012). Blogging as a means of crafting writing. Reading Teacher, 66(4), 316-320. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01128

Karchmer-Klein, R., & Shinas, V. (2012). Guiding principles for supporting new literacies in your classroom. Reading Teacher, 65(5), 288-293. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01044

Larson, L. C. (2013). It's time to turn the digital page: preservice teachers explore e-book reading. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(4), 280-290.

O’Brien, D., & Scharber, C. (2008). Digital literacies: digital literacies go to school: potholes and possibilities digital literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1), 66-68.

Sabatino, L. (2014). Improving writing literacies through digital gaming literacies: facebook gaming in the composition classroom. Computers & Composition, 32, 41-53. doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2014.04.005.

Smythe, S., & Neufeld, P. (2010). "Podcast time": negotiating digital literacies and communities of learning in a middle years ELL classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(6), 488-496.

Jessica Johnson

I am a future teacher who wants to create a classroom that embraces technology and digital literacy tools. I hope that the information on this page is helpful to you and you have learned how important it is to incorporate digital literacies into your classroom! Feel free to email me if you have any questions.