How to Define Literacy in the Digital Age
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) definition of literacy in a Digital Age makes it clear that the continued evolution of curriculum, assessment, and teaching practice itself is necessary.
Literacy has always been a collection of communicative and socio-cultural practices shared among communities. As society and technology change, so does literacy. The world demands that a literate person possess and intentionally apply a wide range of skills, competencies, and dispositions.
These literacies are interconnected, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with histories, narratives, life possibilities, and social trajectories of all individuals and groups.
NCTE suggests that active, successful participants in a global society must be able to do the following:
- Participate effectively and critically in a networked world
- Explore and engage critically, thoughtfully, and across a wide variety of inclusive texts and tools / modalities
- Consume, curate, and create actively across contexts
- Advocate for equitable access to and accessibility of texts, tools, and information
- Build and sustain intentional global and cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought
- Promote culturally sustaining communication and recognize the bias and privilege present in the interactions
- Examine the rights, responsibilities, and ethical implications of the use and creation of information
- Determine how and to what extent texts and tools amplify one’s own and others’ narratives as well as counter unproductive narratives
- Recognize and honor the multilingual literacy identities and culture experiences individuals bring to learning environments, and provide opportunities to promote, amplify, and encourage these differing variations of language (e.g., dialect, jargon, register)
Applied to learners of English language arts, today’s literacy demands have implications for how teachers plan, model, support, and assess student learning. NCTE believes that learning is a lifelong process which invites students and teachers alike to benefit from reflecting on questions associated with the continued literacy demands.
Understandings of the definition of literacies used in this statement have implications for learner agency, access, action, and opportunities.