As the Internet continues to change and grow, new literacies have emerged which involve the use of digital and media technologies. It is crucial that students are able to comprehend and adapt to these literacy requirements if they are to become successful, productive members of society.
Part of the problem is that many teachers themselves, particularly the older ones, may not have experience with the new literacies that are out there, and thus they are unable to lay the groundwork for their students to transition.Their skills may still be rooted in the old style of literacy teaching which focused on the use of paper and pencil. In order to teach effectively in this day and age they need to be open to new ideas pertaining to the teaching of reading and writing, and aware of the fact that their teaching tools are constantly changing now due to the Internet, and they need to be flexible.
Expanded literacy experiences
Some of the new literacies are as follows: innovative text formats new and higher reader expectations, and new activities. What all of this translates into is that these new literacies have expanded the usual literacy experiences which remained the same for a long time, and now there is an amazing amount of information available on the Internet; along with search engines which make it possible to swiftly find information, there is also the ability to assess internet sources; improved communication through email, chatting, and texts; and another big change has been in the increased use of word processing programs.
The Internet has prodded educators to meet issues pertaining to new technologies head on and with a swiftness that is alien to them, due to the fact that past technological innovations took much longer to be fully accepted and were not adapted in so many areas at the same time. The power of the Internet comes in part from the fact that it opens the door to the instant sharing of information with only the click of a link. One link and it's done, that's pretty remarkable.
The role of the internet in today’s schools
What's more, most schools now provide Internet access for their students. This is another contributing factor. Statistics state that in 2005, approximately 95% of K-12 classrooms in the United States had internet access. Plus, 80% of kindergartners use computers and the percentage of children under 9 years old who use the Internet is above 50%. What's strange about all this, and gives pause for thought is the fact that the average amount of time U.S. students that use computers in school was 12 minutes per week. This data speaks volumes as it indicates that while computers and internet access are readily available to students, most students are not given enough time to use this technology in school to develop new literacies.
Introducing new literacies to students
While teachers are frequently the focus of our wrath when students fail to learn properly, it should be noted that introducing new literacies to a group of pupils is not a simple job for a teacher. We assume that they know all about it, but the fact of the matter is that two thirds of teachers feel that they themselves are not experienced enough to use the technology they are to teach to their students. There are many other difficulties which teachers must cope with too.
Things such as lack of resources, their own lack of knowledge and the necessary skills (which stems from being underprepared by the schools in the technological fields they are supposed to teach), failure of school leadership, teachers' own opinions towards new technology, and evaluations (which fail to take into consideration new expectations. Here are three essential items to consider before attempting introducing new literacies to classrooms:
1. The mere use of software programs on computers is not enough to ready students for new literacies' experiences.
2. New literacies are great, but they are also in an unending state of flux, or change and necessitate that teachers accept and promote these changes regardless of how they actually feel about them.
3. New literacies are a must in all classrooms in order to ensure that equal opportunities are available to all students and that they are able to take advantage of them.
By Christopher Austin and LoveReading.co.uk!