When one thinks about literacy, they may make an immediate reference to the basics of words and numbers. But literacy of the 21st century has expanded to from one’s ability to work with words and numbers to the development of information literacy, digital literacy, computer literacy, social literacy and visual literacy. One needs to have:
- Computer literacy skills in order to navigate through the Internet
- Information literacy skills in order to identify, locate, evaluate and effectively use the information
- Visual literacy in order to read and decipher visual information such as photos, graphics, charts, etc.
- Social Literacy in order to work collaboratively with and engage with others
- Digital literacy to be able to read and interpret media, reproduce data and images and evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from the digital environments
There are valid arguments on both sides of the literacy debate regarding the use of the Internet. However, I tend to lean more toward the value that the Internet lends in an education environment. One particular statement in Rich’s article that resonated with me, and supports my view was Zachary Sims, “The Web is more about a conversation, books are more one-way.” As an avid reader of both the Internet and printed books, I have to agree with him. Books are more personal. Whereas information on the Internet does tend to be more of a conversation. In most cases, sites, blogs, information on the Internet promotes or gives the opportunity for engagement. One can share, comment, respond and interact based on what they have read.
Rich talks of the traditionalists who feel that digital reading is the equivalence of empty calories. I don’t agree with this view. I find that the use of readings on the Internet can have value. Individuals can gather information via the Internet and decide how this information relates to the issue or problem and then use the information gathered to solve the problem or form an opinion. It offers the opportunity to gather and share information beyond geographic boundaries, which can also enhance one’s learning.