Digital Literacies and Learning: Designing a Path Forward

Hiller Spires and Melissa Bartlett

June 2012

Since technological advances are driving much of the change that we see in information and communication, researchers and educators are attempting to answer two important questions: What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? How do we design instruction that enables educators to cultivate digital literacies for themselves as well as their students? This white paper addresses the redefinition of literacy skills that enable students to be successful in today’s digital world and the implications this redefinition holds for their teachers.

Digital literacy should be positioned as an entitlement for students that supports their full participation in a society in which social, cultural, political, and financial life are increasingly mediated by digital literacies (California Technology Assistance Project, 2008). In the same way that readers must acquire skills in navigating textual and graphic features of the traditional informational textbook, readers must acquire sophisticated reading skills with online environments in order to be academically and professionally competitive.

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