By Julie Coiro
Each year, the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG) awards the TILE-SIG Computers in Reading Research Award to a researcher who has made a significant contribution to research related to classroom literacy instruction and technology integration. Last year’s award winner, Dr. David O’Brien from the University of Minnesota, shared his research in a May 2011 presentation in Orlando, Florida titled “Bridging Traditional and New Literacies: From Apprehension to Affordances.”
In his presentation, David offered ideas for integrating standards-based instruction around new literacies and multimodal digital texts into curricula when, he argues, most of the common metrics for literacy success are still print-based. He began with a brief description of research that illustrated how engagement in both traditional and new multimodal forms of reading and writing can improve adolescents’ literacy performance and their perceptions of literate competence. He then outlined a series of apprehensions that challenge today’s educators, including worries that books will soon disappear, that students’ attention spans are waning, and that multitasking will undermine concentration and critical reading. At the same time, David explained how adolescents embrace the power of multimodal reading and writing because: a) these formats enable participation in an attention economy, b) they enable multiple means of expression, and c) they prompt opportunities for intertextuality not typically available when interacting with printed texts.
Later in his presentation, David offered examples of explicit curriculum design decisions that can help students bridge the gap between more traditional ways of reading and discussing to multimodal and collaborative writing projects and other new forms of literacy engagement that more accurately reflect adolescent’s evolving cultures and identities in a digital world. You can learn more about David O’Brien’s research around adolescents and new literacies at http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ci/Faculty/OBrien.html. As president of the TILE-SIG, I’d like to thank David for his important work in new literacies and offer congratulations, once again, for receiving the TILE-SIG Computers in Reading Research Award.
Julie Coiro is assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island.
This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).