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The New Literacies of the Internet and Other ICTs: Preparing Connecticut Students for Their Future. Donald J. Leu University of Connecticut. The New Literacies Research Team at UConn. Julie Coiro Athena Lentini Jill Castek Erica Berg. Laurie Henry Teri LeBel Kent Golden Amber Hovland.

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donald j leu university of connecticut

The New Literacies of the Internet and Other ICTs:Preparing Connecticut Students for Their Future

Donald J. Leu

University of Connecticut


The New Literacies Research Team at UConn

Julie Coiro

Athena Lentini

Jill Castek

Erica Berg

Laurie Henry

Teri LeBel

Kent Golden

Amber Hovland

Don Leu

Pam Worthy

Doug Hartman

literacy is all about change

Literacy is All About Change

We change the world one child at a time,

as we teach each one to read, write,

think, and learn.

today the very nature of literacy is itself rapidly changing
Today, The Very Nature of Literacy Is, Itself, Rapidly Changing
  • Globalization has produced other nations and states who are “racing the U.S. to the top” in the effective use and integration of ICT into the workplace and our daily lives (Friedman, The World is Flat)
  • Graduates started their school career with the literacies of paper, pencil, and book technologies… but will finish having encountered the new literacies demanded by a wide variety of ICT:

word processors, World Wide Web browsers, e-mail, spreadsheets, presentation software, instant messaging, video editors, plug-ins for Web resources, listservs, bulletin boards, web logs (blogs), avatars, Web editors, virtual worlds, and many others.

literacy as deixis
Literacy as Deixis
  • As the technologies for reading and writing change so, too, does the very definition of literacy and what it means to be literate.
  • Literacy, reading, writing, communication all have become deictic terms. (Leu, 2000)

The Internet drives the deictic nature of literacy in the 21st Century. It is this generation’s defining technology for literacy and learning


Just as literacy skills are required to use book, paper, and pencil technologies effectively, new literacies are required to effectively use the Internet and other ICTs.

what are these new literacies of reading comprehension
What are these “New Literacies” of Reading Comprehension?

The new thinking and reading comprehension skills required to use the Internet to:

identify important questions;

locate information

critically evaluate that information

synthesize information;

communicate the answers to others.

Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, and Cammack (2004)

new literacies define a new vision of the reading comprehension curriculum
New Literacies Define a New Vision of the Reading Comprehension Curriculum
  • Identify Important Questions
  • Locate information
  • Critically evaluate the usefulness of that information
  • Synthesize information
  • Communicate answers to others
new literacies the new literacies research team
New Literacies (The New Literacies Research Team)
  • The Internet is this generation’s defining technology for literacy and learning.
  • Literacy as deixis
  • Focus on informational text, comprehension, learning, communication
  • Focus on classroom contexts
  • Draw upon multiple theoretical perspectives and constructs: Big 6;discursive, social practice, constructivism, reading comprehension, learning theory, and communication frames of reference.

Big 6

New Literacies

(Change, Reading

Comprehension, Global


(Access, Ethics,



From 2000-2001, use of the Internet at work among all employed adults 25 years of age and older increased by nearly 60%, from 26.1% of the workforce to 41.7% (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2002).


In 2005, 93% of workers in companies with more than 100 employees used the Internet and online information resources in the workplace.

(Websense’s Sixth Annual Web@Work Survey, 2005)

in 2004 nearly 75 of all households reported they had internet access neilson netratings 2004
In 2004, nearly 75% of all households reported they had Internet access.(Neilson/NETRatings, 2004)

87% of all students between the ages of 12 and 17 in the U.S. use the Internet, and 78% of these students (nearly 11,000,000 students) do so daily.(Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005)

in 1994 only 3 of all k 12 instructional rooms in the u s had access to the internet today 93 do
In 1994, only 3% of all K-12 instructional rooms in the U.S. had access to the Internet.Today, 93% do.

Ireland manufactures more

software than the US

or any other nation.


Finland provides teachers with five weeks of paid, release time, professional development at integrating new literacies into the classroom.(Leu,Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004)


Japan has broadband in nearly every home that is 16 times faster than the broadband in US homes, for only $22 per month.(T. Bleha, Foreign Affairs, 2005)

Companies in India provide online tutoring for US students in reading, math, and science.(NY Times, September, 2005)

Mexico is investing more than $1,000,000,000 to install an Internet computer in every every primary grade classroom by 2005 as part of its e-Mexico Program(Education Week, 2004)


Australia, the U.K., Finland, Ireland, Japan, and most developed nations have Internet portals for educators, far superior to anything the US has produced.


We continue to assess student performance with paper and pencil assessments of largely factual information based on traditional literacy and learning skills, ignoring…

globalization and economic competition;
  • the changing nature of the workforce;
  • the digitalization of information and communication;
  • and the changes taking place to learning, reading comprehension, writing, and communication as the Internet enters our lives.
No state permits all students the opportunity to use a word processor during their state writing assessment.
And, it is important to understand…… online assessment DOES NOT necessarily mean the assessment of online skills.
Which state in the U.S. ranks 13th from the bottom in the number of Internet computers per student within school classrooms?
when did mississippi achieve an internet computer in every classroom when did connecticut
When did Mississippi achieve an Internet computer in every classroom? When did Connecticut?

Mississippi --- December, 2002

Connecticut --- Soon?

which states have more internet computers per student than connecticut
Which states have more Internet computers per student than Connecticut?

Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, DC, South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Georgia, Delaware, Maine, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island,Vermont, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, and others.

the irony of our time
The Irony Of Our Time
  • The organization in our society charged with preparing students for their future has, because of NCLB, invested in the assessment of their past.
research projects at the new literacies research lab
Research Projects at the New Literacies Research Lab
  • National Assessment of Adult Literacy (ETS, NCES)
  • 50 States Assessment Study
  • Somers Study of Science Instruction and the New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension
  • US Dept. of Ed - Online Reading Comprehension with Priority Schools (Clemson)
  • Nila Banton Smith Research Award - Reading during Online Searching
  • Carnegie Grant
reshaping the doctoral experience
Reshaping the Doctoral Experience
  • High expectations for scholarship and teaching
  • Working as colleagues
  • The essential nature of conference participation
  • Making transparent all that professors do.
  • Working shoulder to shoulder
  • Developing a common commitment to one another
rethinking our work 10 steps we might take together to change our literacy and learning worlds
Rethinking Our Work: 10 Steps We Might Take Together To Change Our Literacy and Learning Worlds
step 1 recognize that literacies are multiple new literacies do not replace traditional literacies
Step 1:Recognize That Literacies are Multiple: New Literacies Do NOT Replace Traditional Literacies
step 2 change ct state assessments
Step 2: Change CT State Assessments

Let us assess reading skills that will central to our students’ future not simply the skills that have defined our past.

step 4 recognize that each of us is on a journey and that we each have something to learn and teach
Step 4: Recognize That Each of Us Is On a Journey and That We Each Have Something to Learn and Teach

Step 5:Recognize That In An Age of Change, Knowing How to Solve an Informational Problem May Be More Important to Measure Than Knowing Factual Knowledge

step 6 look to our future not to our past
Step 6:Look To Our Future, Not To Our Past
  • Expect rapid continuous changes to reading and literacy.
  • Comprehensively and continuously redefine all standards to include the new reading and literacy skills the Internet demands.
  • Educate the public.
step 7 take a calculated risk
Step 7: Take a Calculated Risk!

Let’s be honest. Change IS risky business.

donald j leu university of connecticut56

The New Literacies of the Internet and Other ICTs:Preparing Connecticut Students for Their Future

Donald J. Leu

University of Connecticut