Chang,Y., Wang, L. & Eagle, J. (2019). Empowering English Language Learners through Digital Literacies: Research, Complexities, and Implications. Media and Communication. Vol 7(2).128-136.
This article provides an accessible overview of issues related to the digital literacies of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the U.S. The article highlights issues that are of increasing importance for adult settlement language learning in Canada and includes a description of evolving definitions of digital literacies and fluency and a short review of literature focusing on language teaching practices that support the development of digital literacies.
The authors argue that digital literacies and digital fluency can support language learner autonomy and provide authentic language learning experiences that meaningfully reflect the daily lives of the learners. The inclusion of digital literacies as part of the language learning process in the language classroom not only provides opportunities for authentic learning in the classroom but also supports learners to extend their language learning beyond the classroom. Furthermore, in an increasingly digitized society, digital literacies are essential for employment and ongoing learning and communication in day-to-day life. In order to effectively incorporate digital literacies as part of language teaching practice the authors highlight the need to support language instructors to engage in ongoing professional development in relation to the use of digital tools for teaching and learning.
Godwin-Jones, R. (2017). Smartphones and language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 21(2), 3–17.
According to the 2016 General Social Survey from Statistics Canada 71% of the population own a Smartphone. We carry these powerful little devices with us everywhere even in our classrooms. The ubiquity of the Smartphone begs the question of how they could be used to support and extend language learning.
This timely article offers an overview of, and provides a useful base of information about the potential of Smartphones for language learning. The author contends that smartphones have the potential to support students in more effectively integrating their language learning in the classroom and the incidental language learning that they may engage in using mobile devices. One major challenge relating to the use of smartphones and mobile devices in the language learning environment is how to support students to develop skills and knowledge to enable them to become informed and engaged online learners.
The author surveys recent research in Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and makes the case for the need for further research to examine the actual use of mobile devices by students outside of the classroom. Such research would support a better understanding of how these devices can be effectively deployed in the language classroom to support informal and ongoing learning and the development of critical digital skills.
[i] (2016). Statistics Canada. General Social Survey.
Retrievable from: https://www.lltjournal.org/item/2995
Dudeney, Gavin, Nicky Hockly and Mark Pegrum. Digital Literacies. Harlow, England: Pearson, 2013.
This book is organized in four chapters:
- From research to implications – you’ll find a framework of digital literacies.
- From implications to application – you’ll find a digital activities grid, descriptions of activities and a number of worksheets. worksheets can slso be obtained online.
- From application to implementation – you’ll find information about how to integrate digital literacies in your teaching practice depending on your context and the syllabus you are working with.
- From implementation to research – you’ll find suggestions about how to continue your own learning about digital literacies as you work through challenges that arise. There is detailed description of building and maintaining a personal learning network (PLN).
The NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment was developed by the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium. Through a set of online and interactive assessments users can identify skill gaps in Basic Computer Use, Internet, Windows Operating System, Email, Word Processing/ Microsoft Word, Spreadsheets/ Excel, and Social Media.
The NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment is widely used in the U.S. and by some organizations in Canada and South Africa. As of March 2016, over 150,000 assessments had been completed. Although the NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment was developed for the adult basic education community it is appropriate for ESL learners – the developers note that, “A mid-level English-speaking ability is needed to complete the assessments.”
Retrievable from: https://www.digitalliteracyassessment.org/
Harris, K. Integrating Digital Literacy Into English Language Instruction: Issue Brief [nd].
Digital Literacy, the ability to use digital devices and to participate in our digital world is now recognized as a fundamental skill in our increasingly digital world. This issue brief from the U.S. is part of the LINCS ESL Pro suite of resources on Integrating Digital Literacy into English Language Instruction.
This short article provides an overview of digital literacy within the context of English language teaching and learning, highlighting its critical importance for students and providing a straightforward introduction to four aspects of digital literacy: (1) using basic digital skills, (2) creating and communicating information, (3) finding and evaluating information, and (4) solving problems in technology-rich environments. In addition the article provides practical advice on how digital literacy activities can be included in English language instruction.
Retrievable from: https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/ELL_Digital_Literacy_508.pdf
Gilbert, J. (2014). Exploring ESL Students’ Perceptions of Their Digital Reading Skills. Ed.D. University of Nottingham.
A doctoral thesis exploring ESL students’ understandings of their own digital reading skills. The study included three sources of data: reading workshops created for the participants; interviews with participants; discussions with participants and analysis of participants’ reading journals. The study concludes that while the participants had the capacity to randomly search the internet they lack the information literacy skills to productively research and evaluate information online. The study also found that the participants’ reading strategies varied when engaging with print and web-based text. Finally the research points to the need to consider teaching digital literacy skills in tandem with language instruction and to provide instructors and instructors-in-training with the means to develop robust digital skills to enable them to support students to develop these skills alongside their language learning.
Retrievable from: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/14080/1/Gilbert_Re-formated_Thesis_Draft.pdf
Vanek J. & Johnston, J. (2015). Enhancing the Digital Skills of English Language Learners Studying at a Distance. AEIS Newsletter March 2015.
Based on interviews with instructors who work within the IDEAL consortium the article outlines the components of a successful distance learning program for second language learners. The authors argue that given the ubiquity of digital technologies and the multiple demands on learners to use digital technology in the workplace, distance learning instruction should not be limited to the academic content typically found in online distance learning curricula. Rather, learners need to have access and exposure to a range of digital technologies for learning and problem solving facilitated by an instructor.
Retrieved from: http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolaeis/issues/2015-03-04/5.html
CALICO Monograph Series Volume 12. (2014). Digital Literacies in Foreign and Second Language Education.
This volume from CALICO is made up of 12 chapters that look at digital literacy in language learning from many different perspectives. Among others, there is a challenge to Prensky’s characterization of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, a description of a survey-driven study of the use of digital tools for language teaching and learning, a framework that proposes how to close the digital divide, and an exploration of the affordances of digital social reading using the example of an open source tool called eComma. In this last example, in chapter 9, author Carl Blyth looks at some of the ways that e-readers can enable users to annotate a text and share their annotations with others. This new practice, called digital social reading, is similar to the way that readers of print text can write in the margins or meet as a book club to share their thoughts. Blyth presents and then addresses some of the opposition to this practice using examples from four case studies.
Retrievable from: https://calico.org/bookfiles/pdfs/DigitalLiteracies.pdf
Chinien, Chris, and France Boutin. (2011). Defining Essential Digital Skills in the Canadian Workplace: Final Report. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
This study reports on a proposed digital skill framework for Canadian workers. The proposed framework includes four skills clusters, three of which are foundational skills, technical digital skills and digital information processing skills. This report is of interest because it provides information about the types of skills adult learners who attend settlement language training will be expected to be able to demonstrate in the workplace. The report points out that prosperity from the digital economy will not depend only on specialists and advanced users of digital technology, but on general workers as well. This has resulted in an increased interest for all workers to possess essential digital skills for both technical systems skills and for everyday tasks so that they can work efficiently and effectively. At the time of the writing of the report, there was no consensus on a definition of digital literacy, as indicated in a chart of definitions of concepts, but attempts were being made to standardize, these while maintaining some adaptability to reflect emerging technologies, in the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S and through UNESCO’s member states. The report provides short reviews of the digital literacy frameworks in each of these jurisdictions and goes on to propose such a framework for Canada.
Bow Valley College. (2015). Digital Literacy: An Essential Skill for ESL literacy Learners.
A short and lively account of an innovative “Laptop Lending” program in the Bridge Program for ESL learners (ages 19-24) at Bow Valley College in Calgary. Through this program learners are each given a laptop to use while registered in the program and are encouraged and supported to use the laptops to develop digital literacy skills and to pursue their language learning using the online platform, Desire2Learn.
Instructors in the Bridge program are committed to helping learners to develop essential digital literacy skills to increase their chances of success in further education and in the world of work. As one of the instructors says, “Being able to read and write also means being able to read and write online, there’s a lot more involved in it than just simply pen and paper.”
In this article the instructors provide an overview of the background to the laptop lending program, their experiences with the program and they share some of the successes they have witnessed as a result of the program.
Retrievable from: https://centre.bowvalleycollege.ca/blog/english-language-learning/digital-literacy-essential-skill-esl-literacy-learners
Winke, P., & Goertler, S. (2008). Did We Forget Someone? Students’ Computer Access and Literacy for CALL. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 482–509.
The authors address the commonly held notion that because of their age, students coming into post-secondary language programs will be able to access computers readily, be computer literate, and have positive attitudes about learning with technology. They state that there is a shortage of research data to support this and that before programs are modified to incorporate technology, for example in a blended language program, learners should be surveyed to determine their access to the appropriate technology and to their interest in using it for language learning. Although some of the age-related assumptions are not relevant to adults in settlement language programs, issues of access to equipment, including hardware like headsets, microphones, web cams, and the Internet as well as the ability to carry out computer tasks, use software and a course management system are nonetheless extremely important. The study reports on findings from the responses of 911 university students’ in EFL classes. The technology survey questions are provided in the appendix and would be an important jumping off point for anyone considering implementing a blended learning settlement language program for adults.
Meckelborg, A. (2003). Assessing computer literacy in adult ESL learners (M. Ed). University of Alberta.
This thesis documents a relatively early study of instruments to measure computer literacy in a group of adult ESL students. Although there have been many developments in digital technologies over the past ten years and the range and type of skills described in this study are somewhat outdated, the discussion of the design and analysis of the assessment instruments remains of value in relation to assessment in a blended learning context. The assessment instruments piloted and studied as an alternative to a performance measure of computer skills were as follows: a computer experience questionnaire; a vocabulary self-assessment questionnaire; a computer skills self-assessment questionnaire and a written test of knowledge.
Ascenuik, C. (2012). Exploration of Newcomers’ Access to Internet Literacy (M.A). University of Ottawa.
This thesis examines the impact of levels of access to technology, both within and outside the program, on a small group of newcomers to Canada enrolled in a federally funded Enhanced Language Training (ELT) program. The study explores this impact in relation to the general internet literacy of the participants and the educational, curricular and pedagogical implications for the ELT program.
Retrievable From: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/thesescanada/vol2/OOU/TC-OOU-20498.pdf