NCTE

Beliefs for Integrating Technology into the English Language Arts Classroom

This statement, formerly known as Beliefs about Technology and the Preparation of English Teachers, was updated in October 2018 with the new titleBeliefs for Integrating Technology into the English Language Arts Classroom.

Originally developed in July 2005, revised by the ELATE Commission on Digital Literacy in Teacher Education (D-LITE), October 2018

Preamble

What it means to communicate, create, and participate in society seems to change constantly as we increasingly rely on computers, smartphones, and the web to do so.

Despite this change, the challenge that renews itself — for teachers, teacher educators, and researchers — is to be responsive to such changes in meaningful ways without abandoning the kinds of practices and principles that we as English educators have come to value and know to work.

That’s why we created this document — a complete update and overhaul of a 2005 document published on behalf of the Conference on English Education, “Beliefs about Technology and the Preparation of English Teachers [1]: Beginning the Conversation, [1]” published in Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education.

With some members of that original working group, as well as with many colleagues who have emerged in our field since that time, we offer a layered framework to support colleagues in their efforts to confidently and creatively explore networked, ubiquitous technologies in a way that deepens and expands the core principles of practice that have emerged over the last century in English and literacy education.

We begin by articulating four belief statements, crafted by this working group, composed of teachers as well as teacher educators and researchers. Then, we unpack each of the four belief statements in the form of an accessible summary paragraph followed by specific suggestions for K–12 teachers, teacher educators, and researchers. We conclude each section with a sampling of related scholarship.

As you read, you will notice that the beliefs are interwoven and echo each other necessarily; they are recursive but not redundant. We anticipate that as you read, you will see ways that they complement (or even conflict with) each other in theory or practice. Our field is complex, as is human experience. Our goal is to offer the field something well researched, usable, and empowering. If any of those words occur to you while reading, we will have considered our task complete, for now.

All contributors have offered their time, talent, and energy. Without the people noted at this document’s conclusion, this simply would not have happened. Moreover, we thank our four external reviewers whose feedback was thorough and thoughtful, and contributed with expertise, collegiality, and aplomb.

Tom Liam Lynch, Pace University

Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University

 

Beliefs for Integrating Technology into the English Language Arts Classroom

  1. Literacy means literacies. Literacy is more than reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing as traditionally defined. It is more useful to think of literacies, which are social practices that transcend individual modes of communication.
  2. Consider literacies before technologies. New technologies should be considered only when it is clear how they can enhance, expand, and/or deepen engaging and sound practices related to literacies instruction.
  3. Technologies provide new ways to consume and produce texts. What it means to consume and produce texts is changing as digital technologies offer new opportunities to read, write, listen, view, record, compose, and interact with both the texts themselves and with other people.
  4. Technologies and their associated literacies are not neutral. While access to technology and the internet has the potential to lessen issues of inequity, they can also perpetuate and even accelerate discrimination based on gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other factors.

 

The Beliefs Expanded

Belief 1: Literacy means literacies.

Literacy is more than reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing as traditionally defined. It is more useful to think of literacies, which are social practices that transcend individual modes of communication.

In today’s world, it is insufficient to define literacy as only skills-based reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. Even though common standards documents, textbook series, and views on instruction may maintain the traditional definition of literacy as print-based, researchers are clear that it is more accurate to approach literacy as literacies or literacy practices. (We’ll use the former here.)

There are multiple ways people communicate in a variety of social contexts. What’s more, the way people communicate increasingly necessitates networked, technological mediation. To that end, relying exclusively on traditional definitions of literacy unnecessarily limits the ways students can communicate and the ways educators can imagine curriculum and pedagogy.

Understanding the complexities of literacies, we believe

1.   K–12 English teachers, with their students, should

2.   English teacher educators, with preservice and inservice teachers, should

3.   English and literacy researchers should

Some Related Scholarship

Bartels, J. (2017). Snapchat and the sophistication of multimodal composition. English Journal, 106(5), 90–92.

Beach, R., Campano, G., Edmiston, B., & Borgmann, M. (2010). Literacy tools in the classroom: Teaching through critical inquiry, grades 5–12. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D. J. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of research on new literacies. New York, NY: Routledge.

Gee, J. P. (2015). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses (5th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hicks, T., Young, C. A., Kajder, S. B., & Hunt, B. (2012). Same as it ever was: Enacting the promise of teaching, writing, and new media. English Journal, 101(3), 68–74.

Kist, W. (2000). Beginning to create the new literacy classroom: What does the new literacy look like? Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 43(8), 710–718.

Kucer, S. B. (2014). Dimensions of literacy: A conceptual base for teaching reading and writing in school settings (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Leander, K. (2009). Composing with old and new media: Toward a parallel pedagogy. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (Eds.), Digital literacies: Social learning and classroom practices (pp. 147–163). London, England: SAGE.

Lynch, T. L. (2015). The hidden role of software in educational research: Policy to practice. New York: Routledge.

Piotrowski, A., & Witte. S. (2016). Flipped learning and TPACK construction in English education. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 12(1), 33–46.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Rish, R. M., & Pytash, K. E. (2015). Kindling the pedagogic imagination: Preservice teachers writing with social media. Voices from the Middle, 23(2), 37–42.

Rodesiler, L., & Pace, B. (2015). English teachers’ online participation as professional development: A narrative study. English Education, 47(4), 347–378.

 

Belief 2: Consider literacies before technologies.

New technologies should be considered only when it is clear how they can enhance, expand, and/or deepen engaging and sound practices related to literacies instruction.

In news releases and on school websites, it is not uncommon for educators to promote new technologies that appear to be more engaging for students or efficient for teachers. Engagement and efficiency are worthwhile pursuits, but it is also necessary to ensure that any use of a new technology serves intentional and sound instructional practices. Further, educators must be mindful to experiment with new technologies before using them with students, and at scale, in order to avoid overshadowing sound instruction with technical troubleshooting.

Finally, many new technologies can be used both inside and outside school, so educators should gain a good understanding of both the instructional potential (e.g., accessing class materials from home) and problems (e.g., issues of data privacy or cyber-bullying) of any potential technology use. Technological decisions must be guided by our theoretical and practical understanding of literacies as social practices.

Understanding this need to focus on instructional strategies that promote mindful literacy practices when using technologies, we believe:

1.   K–12 English teachers, with their students, should

2.   English teacher educators, with preservice and inservice teachers, should

3.   English and literacy researchers should

Some Related Scholarship

Garcia, A., Seglem, R., & Share, J. (2013). Transforming teaching and learning through critical media literacy pedagogy. Learning Landscapes, 6(2),109–124.

Hammer, R., & Kellner, D. (Eds.). (2009). Media/cultural studies: Critical approaches. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Hicks, T. (2009). The digital writing workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Jones, R. H., & Hafner, C. A. (2012). Understanding digital literacies: A practical introduction. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.

Kolb, L. (2017). Learning first, technology second: The educator’s guide to designing authentic lessons. Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London, England: Routledge.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning (3rd Ed.). Berkshire, England ; New York, NY: Open University Press.

Merkley, D. J., Schmidt, D. A., & Allen, G. (2001). Addressing the English language arts technology standard in a secondary reading methodology course. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(3), 220–231.

Mills, K. A. (2010). A review of the “digital turn” in the new literacy studies. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 246–271.

 

Belief 3: Technologies provide new ways to consume and produce texts.

What it means to consume and produce texts is changing as digital technologies offer new opportunities to read, write, listen, view, record, compose, and interact with both the texts themselves and with other people.

As digital technologies have become more ubiquitous, so too has the ability to consume and produce texts in exciting new ways. To be clear, some academic tasks do not change. Whether a text is a paper-based book or a film clip, what it means to create a strong thesis statement or to ask a critical question about the text remains consistent. Further, some principles of consumption and production transfer across different types of texts, like the idea that an author (or a filmmaker, or a website designer) intentionally composed their text using specific techniques.

However, some things do change. For example, students can collaborate virtually on their reading (e.g., annotating a shared text even when not in the same physical space) and their writing (e.g., using collaborative document applications to work remotely on a text at the same time). Educators should be always aware of the above dynamics and plan instruction accordingly.

Understanding that there are dynamic literacy practices at work in the consumption and production of texts, we believe

1.   K–12 English teachers, with their students, should

2.   English teacher educators, with preservice and inservice teachers, should

3.   English and literacy researchers should

Some Related Scholarship

Alpers, M., & Herr-Stephenson, R. (2013). Transmedia play: Literacy across America. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 5(2), 366–369.

Bishop, P., Falk-Ross, F., Andrews, G., Cronenberg, S., Moran, C. M., & Weiler, C. (2017). Digital technologies in the middle grades. In S. B. Mertens, & M. M. Caskey (Eds.), Handbook of resources in middle level education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Brandt, D. (2015). The rise of writing: Redefining mass literacy. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Brownell, C., & Wargo, J. (2017). (Re)educating the senses to multicultural communities: Prospective teachers using digital media and sonic cartography to listen for culture. Multicultural Education Review, 9(3), 201–214.

Connors, S. P. (2016). Designing meaning: A multimodal perspective on comics reading. In C. Hill (Ed.), Teaching comics through multiple lenses: Critical perspectives (pp. 13–29). London, England: Routledge.

Doerr-Stevens, C. (2017). Embracing the messiness of research: Documentary video composition as embodied, critical media literacy. English Journal, 106(3), 56–62.

Garcia, A. (Ed.). (2014). Teaching in the connected learning classroom. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Hicks, T. (2013). Crafting digital writing: Composing texts across media and genres. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., Schor, J., Sefton-Green, J., & Watkins, S. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Kajder, S. (2010). Adolescents and digital literacies: Learning alongside our students. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Krutka, D. G., & Damico, N. (2017). Tweeting with intention: Developing a social media pedagogy for teacher education. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1674–1678). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Moran, C. M. (2016). Telling our story: Using digital scrapbooks to celebrate cultural capital. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 7(3), 88–94.

Rodesiler, L., & Kelley, B. (2017). Toward a readership of “real” people: A case for authentic writing opportunities. English Journal, 106(6), 22–28.

Rybakova, K. (2016, March). Using Screencasting as a Feedback Tool in Teacher Education. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1355-1358). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Smith, A., West-Puckett, S., Cantrill, C., & Zamora, M. (2016). Remix as professional learning: Educators’ iterative literacy practice in CLMOOC. Educational Sciences, 6(12).

Sullivan, S. R., & Clarke, T. (2017). Teachers first: Hands-on PD with digital writing. English Journal, 106(3), 69–74.

Yancey, K. B. (2009). 2008 NCTE Presidential address: The impulse to compose and the age of composition. Research in the Teaching of English, 43(3), 316–338.

Young, C. A., & Moran, C. M. (2017). Applying the flipped classroom model to English language arts education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

 

Belief 4: Technologies and their associated literacies are not neutral.

While access to technology and the internet has the potential to lessen issues of inequity, they can also perpetuate and even accelerate discrimination based on gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other factors.

It is common to hear digital technologies discussed in positive, progressive, and expansive terms; those who speak with enthusiasm may be doing so without an awareness that technology can also deepen societal inequities. Students who have access to technology at home, for example, might appear to understand a subject presented with a digital device faster than those who do not have access to similar devices outside of school.

As another example, some technologies that enable systems like “credit recovery courses” and remedial literacy software — which are frequently used more heavily in “struggling” schools that serve students who are poor and/or of color — can often reduce pedagogy to the mere coverage of shallow content and completion of basic assessments, rather than providing robust innovation for students to creatively represent their learning.

Understanding the complexity of learning how to use technology, and one’s own social, political, and personal relationship to issues of gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other factors, we believe

1.   K–12 English teachers, with their students, should

2.   English teacher educators, with preservice and inservice teachers, should

3.   English and literacy researchers should

Some Related Scholarship

Drucker, M. J. (2006). Commentary: Crossing the digital divide: How race, class, and culture matter. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6(1), 43–45.

Hicks, T. (2015). (Digital) literacy advocacy: A rationale for creating shifts in policy, infrastructure, and instruction. In E. Morrell & L. Scherff (Eds.), New directions in teaching English: Reimagining teaching, teacher education, and research (pp. 143–156). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Levitov, D. (2017). Using the Women’s March to examine freedom of speech, social justice, and social action through information literacy. Teacher Librarian, 44(4), 12–15.

Lewis, C., & Causey, L. (2015). Critical engagement through digital media production: A nexus of practice. In E. Morrell & L. Scherff (Eds.), New directions in teaching English: Reimagining teaching, teacher education, and research (pp. 123–142). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

McGrail, E. (2006). “It’s a double-edged sword, this technology business”: Secondary English teachers’ perspectives on a schoolwide laptop technology initiative. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1055–1079.

Morrell, E. (2008).  Critical literacy and urban youth: Pedagogies of access, dissent, and liberation.  New York, NY: Routledge.

Norris, P. (2001). Digital divide: Civic engagement, information poverty, and the Internet worldwide. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Pasternak, D. L., Hallman, H. L., Caughlan, S., Renzi, L., Rush, L. S., & Meineke, H. (2016). Learning and teaching technology in English teacher education: Findings from a national study. Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education, 16(4).

Price-Dennis, D. (2016). Developing curriculum to support black girls’ literacies in digital spaces. English Education, 48(4), 337–361.

Rice, M., & Rice, B. (2015). Conceptualising teachers’ advocacy as comedic trickster behaviour: Implications for teacher education. The European Journal of Humour Research, 3(4), 9–23.

Thompson, S. (2004). An imitation of life: Deconstructing racial stereotypes in popular culture. In K. D. McBride (Ed.), Visual media and the humanities: A pedagogy of representation (1st ed.). Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.

Wargo, J. M., & De Costa, P. (2017). Tracing academic literacies across contemporary literacy sponsorscapes: Mobilities, ideologies, identities, and technologies. London Review of Education, 15(1), 101–114.

Warschauer, M. (2004). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the digital divide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Summary

In offering these four belief statements and numerous examples, the scholars and educators involved in writing this document recognize that we, too, are both informed — and limited — by our own experiences, assumptions, and daily literacy practices. It is our sincere hope that this substantially revised document can be a tool for opening up new conversations, opportunities for instruction, and lines of inquiry within the field of English language arts.

 

Contributors

Working Group Members

Jonathan Bartels, University of Alaska Anchorage

Richard Beach, University of Minnesota (Emeritus)

Sean Connors, University of Arkansas

Nicole Damico, University of Central Florida

Candance Doerr-Stevens, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University

Karen Labonte, independent educational consultant

Stephanie Loomis, Georgia State University

Tom Liam Lynch, Pace University

Ewa McGrail, Georgia State University

Clarice Moran, Kennesaw State University

Donna Pasternak, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Amy Piotrowski, Utah State University

Mary Rice, University of Kansas

Ryan Rish, University of Buffalo

Luke Rodesiler, Purdue University Fort Wayne

Katie Rybakova, Thomas University

Sunshine Sullivan, Houghton College

Mark Sulzer, University of Cincinnati

Stephanie Thompson, Purdue University Global

Carl Young, North Carolina State University

Lauren Zucker, Northern Highlands Regional High School (Allendale, NJ)

 

External Reviewers

Nadia Behizadeh, Georgia State University

Nicole Mirra, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Ian O’Byrne, College of Charleston

Dawn Reed, Okemos High School (MI)