Online Literacy and Reading-to-Learn in the Digital Age
Are Google, YouTube, FaceBook, Wikipedia, and Twitter making us stupid (as some educators and parents fear) and turning K-12 students into distracted readers and shallow thinkers? Is literacy in decline? Or are we instead entering an era of new opportunities for turbo-charged reading and learning, an era of many “new literacies” for searching, analyzing, visualizing, creating, and communicating meaning? One good answer to these questions is that “it all depends.” The Web allows some people to engage in accelerated, deep learning, as well as in new forms of creativity, collaboration, and communication. At the same time, it can contribute to apathy, distractibility, plagiarism, and worse. What “it all depends” means, then, is that we have important choices to make, as individuals and as educators. Never before in human history have such powerful resources and tools for learning been at the fingertips of so many people.
The key question is: What will we do with them? This course uses hands-on activities with a variety of web-based technologies (search engines, digital annotation tools, screen-capture tools, collaborative writing and idea-mapping tools, etc.) to explore the new landscape of reading and reading-to-learn on the Web. Time will be devoted to (1) illustrating what is instructionally possible with web-based technologies; (2) comparing reading/learning processes and outcomes across print- and Web-based environments; (3) developing students’ expertise and confidence with a variety of tools; (4) reflecting on the kinds of pedagogical and curricular factors and trade-offs that teachers need to weigh as they make decisions about using technology; and (5) developing at least one Web-enhanced lesson plan, syllabus, or teaching technique that is ready to implement in the classroom. No prior experience with advanced Web literacy and learning tools is required.