New Literacies of Internet Technologies

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New Literacies of Internet Technology

Literacy refers to reading, writing, and communicating. The strategies of locating, using, questioning, and evaluating information have not changed, but the technologies for applying these strategies have changed. In the past, the primary technologies for teaching these literacies were the use of books, paper and pencil. But, with the advent of technology, these literacies have and continue to change. Dr. Donald Leu, Jr. , a professor at the University of Connecticut is an international expert in the new literacies of Internet technologies and he refers to literacy as “Deixis” in that literacy is rapidly changing. Because of this, several new literacies have evolved that incorporate internet technology into the reading, writing and communicating processes.

Internet Project

Internet projects are another type of new literacy. They are collaborative experiences between different classrooms that are trying to solve a common problem or explore a common topic. There are 2 types of Internet Projects;

  1. Web based projects
  2. Temporary / Spontaneous projects

Web based projects are more permanent because everything that is needed is already on the website. This includes clear directions for participation in the project along with a set of instructional materials needed to complete the project. Because of this, web based projects are a good starting point for teachers who would like to undertake an internet project in their classroom.

Temporary projects start off as an idea that a teacher has for a specific curriculum need. The teacher then looks for partners that would like to collaborate on the idea. There are several steps involved in developing this type of project;

  • Initially, a project description needs to be developed. This description includes a summary of the project, a list of learning goals or objects, a list of established expectations for the collaborating partners and a timeline for beginning and ending the project.
  • Post the description at one or several registry sites. It should be posted a few months in advance of the actual project to give potential partners time to find and set up for the project. One example of a registry is the Global SchoolNet (
  • After a partner has agreed to participate, collaboration details need to be arranged between the classrooms.
  • Complete the project based on the established timeline.

There are several benefits for using Internet Projects. One is that they develop student’s collaborative skills. They learn to work together to gather and evaluate data in order to then solve and share their solutions through the use of various technologies. Another benefit is these types of projects develop authentic reading and writing experiences for students to share with classrooms all over the world.

Internet Workshop

Internet workshop fits easily into the instructional schedule of any classroom, it can be used without sacrificing another element of the curriculum. In the time it takes to read this article you could learn how to use Internet Workshop in your classroom, preparing students for the literacy future they deserve. Internet Workshop (Leu & Leu, 2000) consists of an independent reading of information on the Internet around a topic and a location initially designated by the teacher; it concludes with a short workshop session where students can share and exchange the ideas and strategies they discovered during their work on the Internet. Internet Workshop permits students to learn from one another about content information, critical literacy skills, and the new literacies of Internet technologies. It is one of the easiest approaches to use with the Internet, being familiar to anyone who is already using a workshop approach for reading or writing instruction.

Internet workshop has many variations. It may be used as a directed learning experience, a simulation, a center activity, or with many other instructional practices you already use. Generally, though, it contains these procedures:

  1. Locate a site on the Internet with content related to a classroom unit of instruction and set a bookmark for the location.
  2. Design an activity, inviting students to use the site as they accomplish content, critical literacy, or strategic knowledge goals in your curriculum. (As children progress, you may also invite them to develop independent inquiry projects.)
  3. Complete the research activity.
  4. Have students share their work, questions, and new insights at the end of the week during a workshop session. You may also use this time to prepare students for the upcoming workshop experience.

More detailed information on this new literacy can be found at Internet Workshop

Internet Inquiry

Internet inquiry is the last type of project introduced under the new literacies. This type of inquiry is time consumig for both the teacher and the student. The teacher locates a series of website along a topic and introduces them to the student. The student is then tasked with looking through the sites and collecting information not just for the answers to the question but for the formation of a question in which they wish to find the answers. This type of project involves primarily higher order thinking questions. The following table information from the Teaching with the Internet K - 12: New Literacies for New Times by Leu, Leu and Coiro indicates the process involved in an Internet Inquiry.

Phases of Internet Inquiry

  1. Develop a question.
  2. Search for information.
  3. Critically evaluate the information
  4. Compose an answer to your question.
  5. Share the answers with others.

One study of internet inquiry projects was conducted by Eastern Michigan University, they outlined the use of internet inquiry in teaching students becoming science teachers to encourage them to utilize higher-level thinking skills. They also found that in order to conduct this type of project they needed a template for the teachers to gather their information on; the researchers utilized a modified version of the Vee Map. Their study also identifies the process skills and cooridinating thinking levels based on Bloom's Taxonomy.


Fullan(1982, p.107) "Educational change depends on what teacher's do and think - - it's that simple and complex as that." It is that simple to say, however, change is never easy. (Bitner and Bitner, Journal of Technology and Teacher's Education, Vol. 10, 2002) "Before technology can effect changes in the classroom, those ultimately responsible for the classroom must be considered. Teacher's must learn to use technology and must allow it to change their present teaching paradigm. This is not an easy task because change can seem intimidating and threatening." Change is scary especially after we have become comfortable in our teaching styles. The new literacies mentioned above: Internet Workshop, Internet Inquiry, and Internet Projects, are easily learned, utilized, taught, and shared.


  • Leu, D. (2002). Internet Workshop: Making time for literacy. The Reading Teacher, 5(55), 466 472.