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Jeff Utecht writes of "networked literacy" as a new way of thinking about the demands for literacy. Print literacy remains the emphasis of most instruction, but more and more teachers are teaching digital literacy as well.

Utrecht defines networked literacy as "...what the web is about. It's about understanding how people and communication networks work. It's the understanding of how to find information and how to be found. It's about how to read hyperlinked text articles, and understand the connections that are made when you become friends or follow someone on a network. It's the understanding of how to stay safe and how to use the networked knowledge that is the World Wide Web. Networked Literacy is about understanding connections."

Reading on my Kindle app on my iPad last night, I was struck with a similar thought as I noticed several passages that were highlighted, a designation by the Kindle that other readers had found them noteworthy. Admittedly, I found it a bit silly that these particular passages were highlighted -- they seemed neither important to the plot or particularly beautifully crafted sentences. And it was a bit like buying a used book and finding someone had underlined at random.

But despite some of the flaws in the Kindle highlighting program, it struck me that reading -- a solitary pastime -- was moving into a more shared and social learning experience.

I like Utrecht's assertion that we have to give kids the skills for networked literacy, to help them understand the way in which information can be read, curated, shared, and learned.

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Audrey Watters


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