Technology Must be Used to Promot Literacy
Literacy, as defined in Webster's New World Dictionary,
is "the ability to read and write." This is a very narrow definition of
literacy in today's society. It is important that we look at literacy in
the classroom in broader terms. Literacy is more than just reading and
writing. According to The National Literacy Act, literacy is "an individual's
ability to read, write, and speak English, 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" (Fast Facts, 2000,
online). From this definition, it is apparent that in order to be considered
literate, one must be able to function effectively in society. In this growing
world of television, computers, and the Internet, more time should be spent
using technology in the classroom to promote literacy.
The idea of defining literacy in broader terms is not a new idea by any means.
Around 95 AD, Quintilian, a Roman educator, was a promoter of broad literacy.
He included music, astronomy, geometry, and philosophy in his definition of
literacy (Webb, 2000). In today's society, many different areas need to be
addressed in literacy programs. We should include "all forms of the
communicative and visual arts from reading, writing, speaking, and listening
to viewing and producing various modes of visual displays including dance,
art, drama, computer technology, video, movies, and television" (Flood, 1998,
343). Out of all of these components, technology seems to be the most
important in today's society.
Why is it important that we address literacy in today's classrooms? According
to the National Institute for Literacy, "More than twenty percent of adults
read at or below a fifth-grade level-far below the level needed to earn a
living wage" (Fast Facts, 2000, online). If literacy is addressed early on in
a child's education, then there will be fewer adults in the future who have
literary needs. Another startling study by the National Institute for Literacy
found that "over forty million Americans age 16 and older have significant
literary needs" (Fast Facts, 2000, online). Again, this number could be
drastically reduced if we begin to focus more on literacy early in a student's
Because of new advancements in technology, focusing on literacy is becoming
increasingly easier for teachers. The use of technology is a great way for
a child to learn in the classroom. Nonetheless, some people feel that using
technology in the classroom can become too complex and distracting for the
child. How can a child really learn when there are so many beeps, noises, and
flashes coming from the computer monitor and speakers? The important thing to
remember is that children are...