Researchers have begun to study the particular social practices, skills, strategies, and dispositions associated with full participation in this technological and media-saturated society (Jenkins et al., 2009). An assumption of this research is that literacy is connected to a range of skills used in conjunction with information and communication technologies (ICT) to select, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and share information (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010); to think critically and creatively (Silva, 2008); to make and apply knowledge flexibly and adaptively (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009); to develop proficiency with tools of technology (including the design and creation of a variety of texts for multiple, global audiences, and various purposes) (National Council of Teachers of English, 2008); and to communicate and collaborate effectively (e.g., North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 2003). Many of these critical thinking and learning competencies are not new or unique, but there is a need to understand the digital and online literacy skills that are required to live in a globalized and technologically mediated society transformed by new economic, social, and political realities.
Although most research on new media and literacy has focused on adolescents in out-of-school contexts, researchers have begun to document how adults use information and communication technologies in their everyday lives and in their pursuit of continuing education (Lenhart, 2010; Madden, 2010; Mellar and Kambouri, 2004; Smith, 2010a, 2010b; Tamassia et al., 2007).
In this appendix, we report findings from 32 empirical studies conducted between 1995 and 2009 on the relation between new information and communication technologies and adults’ literacy practices and beliefs involving new media.2 The first section of this appendix draws from these studies and other widely cited studies to describe practices and proficiencies related to the use of new technologies that now contribute to what it means to be literate. The second section examines what the research says about
2Our review included peer-reviewed journals from 1995 to 2010. It excluded studies that did not focus explicitly on literacy and technology. The primary search term used was “adult”; secondary search terms were “literacy,” “reading,” and “writing”; tertiary search terms (combined with each secondary term) were “computer,” “digital,” “ICT,” “information and communication technology,” “information technology,” “internet,” “multimedia,” “multimodal,” “online,” “technology,” and “web.” Databases used were ERIC, JSTOR, and Google Scholar. Four categories of journals were also searched individually: (1) general education journals (American Education Research Journal, Harvard Educational Review, International Journal of Educational Research), (2) literacy journals (Written Communication, Journal of Literacy Research, Reading and Writing, Reading Research Quarterly), (3) technology journals (Journal of Computer Assisted Learning; Journal of Computer Mediated Communication; International Journal of Learning and Media; Learning, Media, and Technology), and (4) adult education journals (Adult Education Quarterly, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal).