The Role of Technology in the Transformation of Twenty-First Century Literacy Skills

The Role of Technology in the Transformation of Twenty-First Century Literacy Skills

Jodi Pilgrim (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, USA) and Christie Bledsoe (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch472
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Background

An International Reading Association (IRA) position statement, titled “New Literacies and the 21st Century Technologies,” reported, “to become fully literate in today’s world, students must become proficient in the literacies of the 21st century technologies” (IRA, 2009, p.1). What does it mean to be proficient in 21st century literacies? New terminology describes the literacy skills of 21st century learners. The American Library Association (2013) defined information literacy as “the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information” (para. 2). Web literacy refers to the knowledge an individual needs to find and navigate information, to examine content, and to determine the author and origin of a site (November, 2008). Other concepts, such as new literacy and digital literacy, represent changes in traditional views of literacy due to the impact of the Internet and technology tools. New literacies are skills required when using the Internet “to identify important questions, locate information, critically evaluate the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to answer those questions, and then communicate the answers to others” (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004, p. 1572).

Information literacy, multiliteracies/multiple literacies, new literacy, digital literacy, and web literacy describe skills necessary for 21st century learning (Pilgrim & Martinez, 2013). These literacy terms represent various schools of thought from multiple disciplines and reflect perceptions of literacies in the 21st century. Traditional skills such as reading with understanding and writing coherently remain important, but today’s technology requires readers to develop more sophisticated literacy skills (Gunning, 2013). Online searches produce large amounts of information, and discernment is necessary to determine which sources contain appropriate, credible content. Readers encounter copious information, so they must be better at “organizing it, evaluating it, drawing conclusions, and conveying its essence to others” (Gunning, 2013, p. 545). In addition, online information interconnects through links and visuals in multiple ways, so understanding online text becomes a very complex process (Coiro & Dobler, 2007). Regardless of the verbiage used to define literacy in the 21st century, the modern connotation of literacy has increasingly reflected the ability to use technology, specifically the Internet, for gathering and communicating information (Leu & Forzani, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cloud Computing: “Cloud computing refers to expandable, on-demand services and tools that are served to the user via the Internet from a specialized data center and do not live on a user’s device. Cloud computing resources support collaboration, file storage, virtualization, and access to computing cycles” ( New Media Consortium, 2013b , p. 1).

Digital Literacy: Digital literacy exemplifies competency in learning that occur through online, electronic sources.

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC): MOOCs are platforms in which large numbers of students can enroll in courses and receive credit for their work ( New Media Consortium, 2013a ).

Open Resources: Open resources which are available online as “free, copyable, remixable, materials available without any barriers to access or interaction” ( New Media Consortium, 2013a , p. 7).

Citation Manager: Citation managers are digital tools that support the “understanding, gathering, organization, and use of citation in information literacy” ( Childress, 2011 , p. 144). Citation managers, such as Zotero, EndNotes, and RefWorks, are also known as bibliographic or reference management software because they enable researchers to store, organize, and share citations.

New Literacies: New literacies refer to competencies in skills using the Internet ”to identify important questions, locate information, critically evaluate the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to answer those questions, and then communicate the answers to others” ( Leu, et al., 2004 , p. 1572).

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