Bridging the Literacy Gap

December 8, 2010

There’s no denying that the latest findings from Pisa 2009 with regard to growing literacy deficits within the OECD countries is a cause for concern, not least for the Irish Education system. Although broadly in the same bracket as Sweden, US, Germany and France, Ireland has fallen from 5th to 17th position. 

The suggestion that newer technologies have overtaken  and (in some cases) displaced a more traditional understanding of basic literacy skills may well be tested in the forthcoming volume of the PISA Report (volume VI, June 2011)  Students on Line: Reading and Using Digital Information.

Initial research, however, points to a synergy in the collaborative activity between literacy and technology.  Among the education technologies which support the development of reading and writing skills are for example audiobooks, e-books and online texts as well as the use of social networking sites to foster writing skills.  

It bears repeating that the potential of new technologies for learning is likely to be found not in the technologies themselves but rather in the way in which these technologies are used as tools for learning.  In other words, what it comes down to is the technical expertise of teachers and other facilitators of the learning process.