Some interesting British research is coming out documenting the positive connection between Web 2.0 tools and literacy. And it seems to support an increased use of online tools as part of classroom instruction.

The Open Education blog spends considerable time reviewing the data and sharing some nice insights so head over there for all the details. But a couple of quotes caught my eye. The first is from Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust and author of the research:

The more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills. Does it damage literacy? Our research results are conclusive – the more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills.

So it’s not just paper and pencil, not just blogs, not either / or.

It’s both / and. Both traditional forms of reading and writing as well as Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and social networks.

What I really like about the research is that the over 3000 kids surveyed were asked questions about their literacy “self-confidence.” The results? If kids feel that their writing skills are good, they’ll write more. Online tools increase levels of “feeling good,” improving writing skills. So . . . A = B = C.

Online tools = confidence = better writing

Douglas goes on:

Engagement with online technology drives (student) enthusiasm for writing in all its various formats . . . short stories, letters, song lyrics or diaries.

The National Literacy Trust research is supported by a different survey completed by Coventry University in UK. Dr Beverley Plester and others wanted to find out the connection between texting and language skills. According to Plester, there are positive connections:

Children’s use of textisms is not only positively associated with word reading ability, but it may be contributing to reading development.

Addressing concerns about the loss of literacy skills, co-researcher Clare Wood told the BBC:

If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging not because of it. The use of text language was actually driving the development of phonological awareness and reading skill in children.

There is a growing interest among schools and teachers about the potential of cell phones as learning tools. And now there seems to be a bit more research to support that idea.


Update – David Warlick over at Two Cents Worth posted something almost a week ago that I am just getting to that fits here. He happened to listen to Adora Svitak, the child-prodigy writer. He had this to say:

it was useful listening for new insights from her talk.  For instance, she made a big deal of her parents giving her a laptop at six and that having the computer, and a word processor, freed her from the limitations of her six-year-old’s hand writing.  “Imagine if my parents had been afraid of the technology,” she said.

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