I have Dyslexia. I have specific problems decoding words and reading. This could have negatively impacted my experience at school, but it didn’t. Having a learning difference and an IEP, literacy and the internet have a great connection that has helped me learn and grow in school.
The internet has helped me find and use audio books. Being able to follow along with a hard copy of a book has really increased my absorption and comprehension of reading material. This has helped me improve my reading skills which has greatly boosted my confidence in reading. The advancement in internet and software technology providing the ability to have text to voice, is helping me and a lot of other students improve the understanding of written material. The internet also has the possibility to do the reverse, with voice to text. This is extremely helpful, as many people with Dyslexia and other learning differences can articulate things very well, but translating ideas to written form can be difficult. Being able to look up words for spelling and meaning on the internet is very efficient and important. There are sites like Sparknotes, that have notes on significant readings to help steer students on the right paths for their writing assignments or to make things more comprehensible. Many students have a difficult time, while reading, to also write down notes, I know I do. If I am trying to understand what I am reading, it is very hard for me to interrupt reading with writing notes because then my flow of the story is broken. Being able to refer to internet summaries and explanations is very helpful if my notes are sparse.
For visual learners the internet has a great range of sites that have many informational videos along with many diagrams in all subjects. To understand complicated subjects like biology and chemistry videos are a great help. There is a site that offers great courses with amazing videos to help teach subjects with very detailed processes. In addition, being able to search for diagrams and labeled pictures online, is a great tool for visual learners. My learning disability blocks me from getting all the details I need from reading from a textbook. When students with learning disabilities like me, see a ton of textbook pages with small text and crowded pages being assigned, we get discouraged and this forms a mental block of understanding the concepts being explained in the book. It also can cause some anxiety. Since I got all this support from the internet I have started to do much better in subjects like the sciences. The Mcluhanism, we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us, is applicable here. Without the internet I would not be nearly as good a reader or even interested in reading as I am.
Many critics of my generation say that we do not read or know how to appreciate and enjoy reading. It is not that our generation does not read, it is just a change in the medium. We read different material that captivates us online. It is almost like scanning a newspaper for a section that one may be interested in, but we surf the web and find stories and captions that get our attention. Having access to the internet actually makes reading more accessible for teenagers in ways that we will actually use. It is true that my generation is plugged in. Another McLuhanism is, The new environment of siultaneous and diversified information, creates acoustic man. He is surrounded by sound-from behind, from the side , from above. His environment is made up of information in all kinds of simultaneous forms, and he puts on this electrical environment as we put on our clothes, or as the fish puts on water. My generation is constantly stimulated by technology and bombarded with media from the internet. I feel we are tuned in not tuned out. We become literate in navigating the messages of the medium of the internet able to discern what is important and recognize what is manipulative.
MedicalDaily says that human attention span shortens to eight seconds due to digital technology. Digital technology is very fast pace. When on the internet our interests change quickly based on the many links and hashtags that are available to learn further about. We don’t stay on one site for long. There is also a criticism that the internet contributes to exacerbating and mimicing disorders like ADHD. Not being able to sit still can affect literacy and there are some apps to help people with ADHD focus and improve reading skills.
Literacy and the internet can also be discussed as actual internet literacy. This is how to use the internet in knowledgeable and safe ways being able to discern all different aspects of it. If you are able to be literate in navigating the internet then it can help you increase your literacy.