HALR Chp 18
Literacy in Virtual Worlds
Rebecca Black and Constance Steinkuehler’s

My first response to the title was that adolescents enjoy literacy in the virtual world more than the printed hardcopy text. Yes, I will see students read a Harry Potter book, but I will see more of them engaged in online literacy than off-line literacy. Black and Steinkuehler state, “. . .technology has become a central force that fuels the rhythm of daily life for American youth” (271). I have to agree with them. As a substitute teacher, I often sub in English and computer classes. In the English classes, students ask why they have to read that hardcopy printed text. In the computer classes, I can say click on the tab and read the passage. The students respond with eagerness and willingness to read and comprehend the text that is online. They have even gone as far as looking up a word that they did not know while reading an online passage. However, I have noticed that the majority of the ones in the English classes do not look up the words, but rather say that the text was difficult to understand or it did not make any sense.

Continuing on, I can connect with the authors’ research when they write that the youths’ online and offline life experiences are intertwined. Today’s youth love being connected to the internet to develop current and new relationships (272). One can see this love in the different forms of devices they use such as cell phones, iPods, iPads, etc. Once I asked a group of adolescents to draw a picture of what freedom meant to them. One student drew a detailed picture of her cell phone. As for their offline life experiences, students will use the online connection to meet up somewhere offline at the mall, school games, movies, etc.

In addition, when students need to do research, the internet is the first place they begin. Now-a-days, the internet is the major resource for youths and adults alike. For example, I went into a local high school’s media center and was expecting to see all four walls lined with books. Instead I saw a great deal of computers and one side of the room were bookshelves.

To sum it all up the virtual world is where adolescents like to be. In that virtual world, students read, connect with old friends and develop new friendships. Their online and offline lives have almost become one in the same in which they make online arrangements to meet in person. Literacy in the virtual has become their way of life.