Special Report
Reading & Literacy

Editor’s Note: Learning to Read in a Digital Age

By The Editors — November 09, 2016 1 min read

There has never been a generation of young people more immersed in digital media than this one. From computers to smartphone apps to e-books, electronic media has permeated the lives of many of today’s students since babyhood.

A survey from Common Sense media, a research and advocacy group, finds, in fact, that 72 percent of children ages 8 and younger have used a mobile device to play a game, watch a video, or use an app—and that’s from a survey conducted three years ago. The proportion of children using mobile has undoubtedly grown since.

The ubiquitous use of digital technology raises important questions for educators, especially those charged with preparing students to be literate in modern society. Of course, students must know how to read and write text, whether on a computer screen or on paper. But do they also need to learn to be “digitally literate?” And what does that mean?

In this report, “The Changing Face of Literacy,” Education Week explores those questions and attempts to show how the digital revolution is transforming literacy instruction throughout K-12.

As it turns out, experts and educators define digital literacy in various ways. For many, though, the term encompasses a wide range of skills beyond reading and writing, including reading on an e-reader, assessing the credibility of a website, or creating and sharing YouTube videos. As Audrey Church, the president of the American Association of School Librarians, notes in this report, “children are digital natives, but they’re not digitally literate.”

A 3rd grade student reads online at Indian Run Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio. The school integrates tablets, laptops, and print books into reading time.

Experts do agree, however, that even the youngest children should be learning literacy with a mix of print and digital texts. The Common Core State Standards, now used by 39 states, also give teachers a gentle nudge toward teaching digital literacy. Yet, while some of those standards explicitly call for technology use, others still leave it to teachers to decide whether to incorporate electronic media.

Some teachers have stepped up to that challenge, including one high school teacher in Mineola, N.Y., who is using 21st century technology to teach “Macbeth,” a play written nearly 500 years ago by William Shakespeare.

“My sense is that we’re not going to lose Shakespeare,” remarked another educator, a literacy coach in Revere, Mass. “He’ll remain forever young because of technology.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 09, 2016 edition of Education Week as Editor’s Note

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Reading & Literacy Popular 'Wonders' Curriculum Shows Gaps in Alignment to Reading Research
A new review claims that the curriculum has gaps in its alignment to reading research, and doesn't offer enough supports for teachers.
6 min read
Image of a girl selecting a book in the library.
Hakase_/iStock/Getty
Reading & Literacy Pandemic Prompts Some States to Pass Struggling 3rd Graders
As families wrestle with online learning, a pandemic economy and mental health difficulties, some states are delaying 3rd grade retention.
Aallyah Wright, Stateline.org
8 min read
The Mississippi Department of Education offices are seen in Jackson, Miss. on March 19, 2020. The state's board of education decided this winter that it would suspend the retention policy for third graders this year, allowing all students to pass on to the fourth grade even if they fail the standardized reading test.
The Mississippi Department of Education offices are seen in Jackson, Miss. The state's board of education decided this winter that it would suspend the retention policy for 3rd graders this year, allowing all students to pass on to the 4th grade even if they fail the standardized reading test.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Reading & Literacy Opinion Seven Strategies for Grammar Instruction
Five educators share instructional strategies for engaging and effective grammar instruction.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Reading & Literacy Spotlight Spotlight on Literacy & Language Education
In this Spotlight, review what may be missing in teacher training and the supports offered to students plus more.