ISSUES ON DIGITAL LITERACY: AN ETNOGRAPHIC STUDY ON THE NEW WAYS TO READ AND WRITE ONLINE IN HIGH SCHOOL PRACTICES

ABSTRACT

It has been clear that the ultimate goal of a text was to be heard, from a scroll, or to be read on a printed page. In the future, it must be browsed. The progression device, formerly a row, today seems to be organized around hyperlinks and search boxes. The present study investigates the new literacy corresponding to this evolution. The issue goes far beyond a straightforward operation of browsing devices. As before, the digital text defines reading structures, reading approaches and reader models. In more diligent readers, particularly in young people, digital text supports, or maybe requires, identity formulas, relationships, codes, reading rituals and specific discourses on technology and community. Somewhat, they digitalize their genetics when engaging with Internet. Which sites our students browse? What‟s the Internet model they built? How do they read and represent it? What are the discourses they convey about it? What kinds of use they perform? In this study, after a general overview of the concept of digital literacy, we review the historical development that brought this concept to our days, through repeated narrative re-spatializations; we analyze its current meanings and we consider its connection with the technological, social and psychological dimensions of human life. The observation of a small group of technical high school students, described in the second half of this study, allowed us to reinterpret the questions above. Benefiting from a pedagogical relationship already established, we invite these students for a school project, pointing towards the analysis of their digital concerns, intentions and relations. We have placed here our observation, using an ethnographic methodology, context and time bounded, open and with few prescriptions. Our results, avoiding trivial generalizations, led us to characterize some of their habits and discourses, namely, the digital life that these students quest, and the way they identify themselves with the owning of a new literacy. Finally, we suggest several threads of educational practice and research, perhaps important ones, in case we still recognize thread among the metaphors of knowledge.

KEYWORDS: Literacy, reading, Internet, digital text, technology, reader.