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New Literacies

1991 National Literacy Act defined literacy as "an individual's ability to read, write, and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one's goals, and develop one's knowledge and potential" (NIFL 1991 “What is the NALS?”).

 Today’s concept of literacy goes beyond only paper to include reading from computer screens and personal devices, and include media, technology, information, and other critical literacies (Semali 2001).


The internet and other forms of information and communication technology (ICT) such as word processors, web editors, presentation software, and e-mail are regularly redefining the nature of literacy. In order for a student to become fully literate in today's world, he or she must become proficient in the new literacies of ICT. Educators should integrate these technologies into today’s literacy curriculum in order to prepare students for the literacy future.


The International Reading Association (IRA) believes that much can be done to support students in developing the new literacies that will be required in their future.


IRA (2002) states that students have the right to:


have teachers who are skilled and effective at using new literacies for teaching and learning;


a literacy curriculum that integrates these new literacies into the instructional program;


instruction that develops these literacies for effective use;


assessment practices in literacy that include electronic reading and writing;


opportunities to learn safe and responsible use of information and communication technologies; and


equal access to information and communication technology.

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Copyright © 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008