Technology in the Development and Teaching of a Literacy Program for XXI Century Education

Technology in the Development and Teaching of a Literacy Program for XXI Century Education

John Munro (The University of Melbourne, Australia) and Elena Verezub (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-599-5.ch006
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A key capacity in twenty-first century markets is being able to convert information to knowledge. This information is frequently a written form in e-text contexts. Individuals able to read, comprehend, and execute the information more effectively can use more efficiently the resources available in the marketplace. The study examined the influence of teaching individuals to read and comprehend hypertext. Its findings contribute to advancement of knowledge in this area and indicate ways in which individuals can improve their capacity to convert e-text to knowledge.
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Setting The Stage

The advent of new technologies has brought changes to the market environment. In the Australian system of education, a strong focus is placed on the development, marketing and teaching new literacy programs which enhance the quality of education. Although the overall results in literacy are good, quite a number of students cannot reach the standards. International data shows that in Australia the overall students’ performance in literacy is falling behind other countries. Between 2003 and 2006 “…Australia declined in both its absolute and relative performance in reading literacy, with the proportion of students at the high end of achievement also declining.” (Importance of Literacy and Numeracy, 2009).

The ability to comprehend written text is important for effective learning and performance. It includes three dimensions: the reader who comprehends, the text that is to be comprehended and the activity in which comprehension is embedded (Block, Gambrell and Pressley, 2002).

It is influenced by several factors that are both internal and external to the reader. Relevant internal variables include one’s purpose for reading and their existing knowledge of the context, text structures and motivation (Block, Gambrell and Pressley, 2002; Greasser, 2007; Kintsch, 1995; Tapicro, 2007). External factors include the texts available for reading, text readability and the reading programs used to foster reading ability.

Reader activity during comprehension can be described in terms of the actions readers employ to link concepts both within the text they read and with what they know. They learn more comprehension strategies over time, that they use with texts of increasing complexity. They develop a wide repertoire of reading strategies that they use selectively, based on judgments they make of the reading demands of a particular situation. Both “meaning making strategies” (cognitive) and the management of these strategies (metacognitive) can be used in the process of instructing learners to improve the learning process (McNamara, Ozuru, Best, & O'Reilly, 2007; Vaidya, 1999; Williams & Atkins, 2009).

The advent of new technologies has introduced new contexts in which individuals need to read and comprehend. One of these has been the use of hypertext, the format used to organise written information in the computer context. Hypertext is defined in two ways: in terms of its functional components and construction (Jonassen, 1991; Sweeters, 1994) and in terms of how its links are used for comprehension, (Tolhurst, 1995), that is, the semantic use of its links. ICT has gradually included multimedia contents, such as video and audio clips, animations, and pictures in hypertext. Therefore, the term hypermedia has been used to describe this phenomenon (Landow, 2006). Researchers use hypertext and hypermedia interchangeably since they share the same technological foundation.

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