Digital literacy

GCSE specifications include reading responses that relate to multi-modal texts, such as websites (landing page layout and language) and other internet formats, such as emails blogs, and tweets (focusing on their language, rather than their use). See how you can support pupils when they use these in real-contexts.

Screens encourage profoundly different approaches to reading than did the traditional page. The phenomenon of hypertextuality chimes with larger social moves away from hierarchical and towards more lateral structures. A user of the screen who has several windows open at the same time – attending to chat, surfing the internet, listening to sound as music – is engaged in forms of ‘attention’ management entirely unlike the withdrawing, reflective modes of reading of traditional written text…
Extract from Communication now and in the future by Professor Gunther Kress, School of Culture Language and Communication, University of London, Institute of Education © Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

Supporting pupils

You can use the following questions to help pupils structure their thinking when reading multi-modal texts. These can help them to develop their skills in digital literacy within school and beyond the curriculum.

  • Why are you using this text and what do you hope to get from it? (The answer to this is often ‘information’: to which you can search for a more specific purpose.) How do you interact with it?
  • Is the text fixed, changing, unstable?
  • Is it predictable?
  • What will it look like next time you use it? By reading it, am you also interacting with it and changing it?
  • How is the experience of reading it different from printed text? How is it the same?
  • What skills do you apply to reading both printed and digital texts?
  • Which skills do you need to adapt or develop? Which, if any, are obsolete? For example, skimming and scanning for content is central to reading this text; however, how do you capture where something is so you can return to it?
  • What reading strategies do you need from other subjects (e.g. ICT system management) to help you make the most of your reading?
  • What happens if the text disappears? Is this something that you are used to? Do you simply go to a different source?