"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Technology, first step in acquiring and/or creating literacy?

It was interesting how Belfiore (2004), at the beginning of chapter 1, focused on how she observed that print was taking on a more predominant role at the Triple Z company: printed info, posters, bulletin boards, job postings, notices about holiday and plant closure dates, etc.  A decade later, many companies (and people) are opting for the 'paperless' route, relying mainly on the digital format of those same texts.

In essence, the info, job postings, and notices are still available, just not in hard copy/ printed format.  With technology on an ever-growing trend, it is necessary to be literate in the use of technology in order to access the 'actual' literacy content that is needed to educate the adult learner.

I am hesitant to use the chicken-or-the-egg notion, but in this case, which do we teach first? Technology, so people can access the literacy, or literacy, so people learn how to access the technology?

Today, toddlers are being exposed to technology way before any 'alphabet-type' literacy is unveiled; they are even learning literacy through the technology, and though literacy for a toddler can mean the act of learning to read and write, via technology it is also determining how they create meaning. Therefore, if literacy is a way for people to assimilate to a culture and/or way of life, how different will adult literacy in the workplace be in 15-20 years when these toddlers become adults?

For now, technology is a tool that educators are using to facilitate learning. However, can it also serve to cripple literacy?  Amy Casper, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, in her editorial for this month's issue described how she tried to buy a cup of coffee at a Technology convention in Las Vegas and she was unable to purchase it because the 'system was down'.  She was amazed that not even cash could get her to enjoy her favorite drink. This experience prompted her to write her piece and suggested to me that a similar scenario could disrupt the access to literacy. How many of us want to create meaning in a written format, and then have to post it on a blog, which you had to learn how to make, or be invited to access one via email?  

In essence, though the idea may have already been written some place else (on paper, really? People still use that? Yes, yes they do.), the way of communicating that meaning is now being formatted through technology.  Therefore, in today's world, could technology be a first step in acquiring and/or creating literacy?


  1. This is a great post, Carol! I think a lot about how everything we need is on the web---if we know the right search terms, or use the right words to search. Your point about tech literacy is also poignant in light of our class's struggle to even be able to join this blog! It required a bit of tech literacy that some of us may take for granted.

  2. I think you need both. Technology should be used in conjunction. We see this today in when children learns to read on the computer vs from a book. Kendal, Leap frog, and Wii Games are great examples. By combining technology with the literacy goal the results are enhanced.

    I absolutely love technology. I use it everywhere and in everything. It is a key factor in how I learn, grow, and develop all aspects of life. Technology now allows us to integrate diversity within moments in almost all subject areas. Although technology can be challenging, I view it as a blessing. Without technology, my end results would be far less desirable.

    Thank you for the engaging post.

  3. Unlke Shannon Bey, I am a bit of a Luddite. Still, it keeps me young, trying to cope (or else it's killing me!). Now--Carol, I want to push the chicken or egg question bit. It implies that literacy IS something independent of its medium. I wonder if this "universal" idea of literacy is the best way to think about digital literacies, since, as we shall see, the digital is changing everything we thought we knew about "skills" like comprehension, drawing on prior knowledge, what it means to be fluent, what it means to be a critical reader... Hmm. Thank you for posing this very GENERATIVE question!!!


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.